FRANKFURT, GERMANY — Improving immune health, empowering women and enhancing sensory in baked foods were features of winning ingredients at the Fi Europe Innovation Awards, which were presented in a Dec. 1 ceremony at Fi Europe in Frankfurt. The awards recognize achievements in the food and beverage industry.

Bunge Loders Croklaan, a business of St. Louis-based Bunge Ltd., won the clean label and natural innovation award for its Karibon ingredient, a 100% shea-based cocoa butter equivalent (CBE) that combines the processing benefits and versatility of CBEs with the nutritional and sustainability benefits of shea.

“Until now, only blends of shea and palm oil were available as an alternative to cacao butter,” said Ing Renee Boerefijn, PhD, director of innovation for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) for Bunge Loders Croklaan. “With Karibon, we can offer a pure shea ingredient for chocolate bars, coatings and other applications. Our suppliers are women's cooperatives from West Africa who collect shea to provide additional income for their families. Our ingredient is clean label while contributing to environmental and social sustainability.”

AAK, Malmö, Sweden, took the sensory innovation award for its AkoBisc GO!, a biscuit fat low in saturated fatty acids and free from tropical fats. The ingredient offers a sensory biscuit quality with a crunchy bite, no fat bloom and no discoloration over time.

“This award recognizes the innovative strength of AkoBisc GO!, which not only scores in terms of sustainability, but also provides sensory enhancement of baked goods while significantly simplifying the various production steps,” said Alberto Rosado, global innovations manager bakery at AAK.

The plant-based innovation award went to Royal DSM nv, Heerlen, The Netherlands, for its Maxavor Fish YE, a natural fish flavor derived from algal oil for producing fish alternatives, including vegetarian fish nuggets and vegan fish sauce. The ingredient is available in two flavor profiles: Maxavor Fish M YE, which replicates the body, mouthfeel and taste of rich and oily dark fish, and Maxavor Fish W YE, which emulates fresh, light and fleshy white fish.

The FreshQ food cultures from Chr. Hansen, Hoersholm, Denmark, received the food tech innovation award. The cultures remove the main technical barrier for implementing fermentation-enabled bio-protection to help reduce food waste.

“We are very happy that the jury of food experts acknowledges the game-changing qualities of our next-generation of FreshQ,” said Marianne Gregersen, commercial development manager for Chr. Hansen. “This innovation brings fermentation-enabled bio-protection to the dairy producers, who need it the most, making it possible to fight food waste in regions where cold chains can be challenged.”

NutriLeads, Wageningen, The Netherlands, won the health innovation award for BeniCaros, a proprietary ingredient for immune health clinically proven to support and optimize immune function and response.

“We are a small team and have only been on the market since 2012,” said Erik Dam, chief executive officer at NutriLeads. “The fact that we now hold an Fi Innovation Award in our hands with our very first product is wonderful recognition of our efforts. BeniCaros is derived from byproducts of carrot juice production and scientifically proven to accelerate the immune response, therefore addressing several consumer trends at once."

NZMP, Auckland, New Zealand, the ingredients brand of dairy cooperative Fonterra, received the sustainability innovation award for its organic butter, a Carbonzero-certified ingredient. Carbonzero measures greenhouse gas and how to reduce emissions.