Because consumers take interest in specific health benefits, nutrient premixes used for health-and-wellness foods are changing. This exclusive Q&A with DSM Nutritional Products’ Diane Hnat and Caroline Brons examines various “nutrient platforms” that address these needs. Ms. Hnat is senior technical marketing manager, DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, NJ, and Ms. Brons is senior marketing manager.

Baking & Snack: Is there a place in the market for a “standard” nutrient premix? Or is this an idea of the past?

Diane Hnat: A "standard" nutrient premix can provide a simple entry into the "better for you" market for some companies.

Certain suppliers offering such premixes have developed marketing positionings for health benefits of interest to many consumers, so the premix can represent a "tried and true" value.

Has the shift into variety breads and whole grain products changed what goes into nutrient premixes for grain-based foods?

Ms. Hnat: Enrichment nutrients and levels are the same as before the shift to the variety breads and whole grain focus. A claim with whole grain ingredients will be reflected more in the fiber (macronutrient) content rather than micronutrient content of the product. Different rules apply for labeling the claims from inherent nutrients than added nutrients, so this must also be considered by the marketer.

To a company without a regulatory support staff, use of a consultant is prudent to help design claims or choose ingredients which are GRAS for the intended use.

Besides the standard bread/flour enrichment package (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, iron and optional calcium) for white bread, what other nutrients are getting attention? For example, but not limited to, vitamins B6, C, D and K, antioxidants, phytochemicals, flavonoids, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, dietary supplements, and so forth?

Ms. Hnat: When consumers are interested in specified health benefits, as many are, then they might be looking for extra bone nutrients such as vitamins D and K or for extra heart health nutrients such as EPA and DHA omega-3 or for extra skin health nutrients such as biotin and Vitamin E. If the manufacturer/marketer is starting with unenriched flour then they can add those nutrients during the mixing. Remember that calcium and vitamin D are optional enrichment ingredients.

Caroline Brons: DSM has developed a portfolio of 17 health benefit platforms that address consumers’ current health concerns. Areas such as heart health, cognition, relaxation, energy, children's nutrition, women's essentials and many more are being addressed in a very comprehensive way. By offering, consumer research, product development support, formulation assistance as well as science-backed ingredients, we help our customers in the baking and snack industry go to market faster and more successfully.

How much customization of premixes are your customers in the baking and snack industries requesting? What are the reasons for such needs?

Ms. Hnat: Proprietary blends of nutrients are as common in the baking and snack industries as they are in the dairy or fats and oils industries. Whether it's a slight tweak from traditional fortification or a boldly fortified new product or line extension there are innovators and risk-takers in these industries as well.

Best advice is to consult with an organization such as AIB which not only provides guidance and support in labeling but also in use of ingredients including micronutrients and nutraceuticals. AIB is a great resource which offers an annual training course with pilot plant experience in the use of typical and innovative ingredients. It invites suppliers to present information on their ingredients and the course participants get an opportunity develop formulations, make them in the pilot plant, describe the process experience and taste the finished goods with their classmates.

Given the popularity of tablets and pouches, are there other delivery formats that would interest bakers?

Ms. Hnat: Tablets and pouches (preweighed per batch) would be unique for delivery of micronutrients; many bakeries still weigh from bulk containers because ingredients are batched prior to the production shift and staged on carts. In the case of continuous doughmaking then metering micronutrients could be an option. In the case of standard enrichment, certain suppliers of enrichment nutrients pay special attention to the maintenance of the metering equipment.

What does a formulator need to know to be able to specify the optimum nutrient premix for a new product or a reformulated one?

Ms. Hnat: Market research data, competitive product analysis and clinical trial results on specifically added nutrients can guide a formulator's selection of nutrients. As well, formulators can work closely with a premix supplier indicating not only the final label claim to be made but any particular details in the processing, handling or storing of the finished good that might require addition of an overage to actually achieve the final label claim. No matter what, due diligence is required on the part of the manufacturer/marketer because they are ultimately responsible for achieving the final label claim until last day of purchase for their product.

Ms. Brons: With our concept of "Total Premix Partnership", we offer formulators a wide range of tools that can be used in determining the optimum premix to develop. This includes consumer research, application development, premix formulation, scientific back up and superior quality ingredients. With our Quali-blend premix resources we help our customers grow every step of the way.