CHICAGO — Plant-based ingredients, including protein derived from pulses, flour from algae or crispy inclusions from peas, were a theme among exhibitors at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo held July 11-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago. There was also a less obvious, but still very strong presence of suppliers offering minimally processed ingredients derived from whole fruits and vegetables.
The dried, 100% real fruit and vegetable ingredients are designed to boost the nutritional value of foods and beverages, naturally. They add the vitamins and minerals present in the fruit or vegetable, but in a concentrated form, with or without flavor, and with or without color, depending on the ingredient and the supplier.
“The quickly growing better-for-you market is here to stay,” said William Grand, chief executive officer of NutriFusion L.L.C., Hilton Head, S.C. “Consumers want healthier, nutrient-rich foods, as well as convenience.”
That’s what Mr. Grand is helping companies achieve with the company’s GrandFusion and NutriFusion line of nutritionally dense organic fruit and/or vegetable powder blends.
“Our nutritionally packed powders are rich in nutrients and phytonutrients, including antioxidants, co-enzymes, vitamins and more,” he said.
The ingredients are designed to be added to any food product without significantly impacting taste or texture or color.
There are numerous products that have recently debuted in the marketplace made with the powders. For example, 3D Dairy Foods, Milwaukee, recently started rolling out two of more than 10 concepts to be sold under its CheeBrands NutriDairi Foods brand.
Cheeserts NutriDairi Dessert and Cheenaks NutriDairi Snack are based on soft, small cheese curds in a flavored creamy sauce ranging from crème brulee to pecan peach to vanilla custard. The 5.5-oz single-serve cups carry the logo of NutriFusion and state the product is enhanced with natural vitamins.
“Our ingredient allows for serving claims of nutrients from fruits and vegetables,” Mr. Grand said. “Manufacturers can revitalize their products with natural vitamins to significantly boost nutritional values.”
Such an example comes from Good Health Natural Products Inc., Greensboro, N.C. The company’s Veggie Stix snack is described as having “extra goodness” from the addition of real fruits and vegetables.
Randal Kreienbrink, marketing director for BI Nutraceuticals, Long Beach, Calif., said nothing may replace whole fruits and vegetables. “But fruit and vegetable powders offer a convenience the whole forms cannot,” he said. “They can easily be blended together to offer a broad spectrum of nutrients and incorporated into a variety of products so consumers are able to receive several servings of fruits and vegetables from just one source.”
BI Nutraceuticals offers a range of powders, including various berries, carrot and broccoli. At the I.F.T., the company sampled a cinnamon graham cracker containing kale powder and psyllium fiber and a chocolate coconut smoothie featuring pumpkin seed protein.
With consumers seeking greater health benefits from even the most indulgent foods, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (C.I.F.I.), Nashville, N.C., created a menu of healthy and clean label prototypes for the company’s first-ever exhibit at an I.F.T. show. The menu included a nutrition bar featuring a dehydrated sweet potato crumble. There were also mini muffins made with sweet potato flour, with six (a serving) containing one vegetable serving.
“Our ingredients make it possible for food brands to add the health and trend appeal of sweet potatoes to a wider range of applications,” said John Kimber, chief operating officer. “These minimally processed 100% sweet potato ingredients come in juice concentrates, as well as dehydrated granules and flour.”
The liquids provide sweetness and are a natural replacement for high-fructose corn syrup. The dehydrated products, which contribute beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber and resistant starch to formulations, may be used to replace grains and flours in recipes.
Another first-time exhibitor was PowderPure, The Dalles, Ore. The company has a patented dehydration technology using energy from light. It uses wavelengths to remove water from fruits and vegetables while leaving nutrients intact. The powders retain the color and flavor of the raw materials as well.
“Our powders haven been proven to retain 100% nutrition,” said Mark Savarese, chief executive officer. “The nutrition in our powders is exactly what you find in fresh fruits and vegetables. All of the antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber and vitamins are present. This is not something possible with spray, drum or freeze drying processes.”
Welch’s, Concord, Mass., and Taura Natural Ingredients, Winchester, Va., recently partnered to take the Concord grape into uncharted territory with the development of new concentrated FruitWorx inclusions.
Produced from Welch’s Concord grape Juice and purée, the 100% fruit inclusions come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with or without other fruit or vegetable juices. Such additional ingredients as chia seeds may be included with the inclusions for extra nutrition and texture. They may be used in nutrition bars, confectionery, bakery products and breakfast cereals to add 100% fruit flavor and nutrition.
The inclusions are made using Taura’s ultra-rapid concentration (U.R.C.) process to preserve the taste and natural goodness of the Concord grape, which has the highest polyphenol content of all grapes, said Wayne Lutomski, vice-president of international and global ingredients for Welch’s.
“Our mission is to bring the great taste of the Concord grape to more places and to more people,” he said. “Through our partnership with Taura Natural Ingredients, and its unique U.R.C. process, we will be able to take concord grapes into applications never before imagined.”
With many consumers finding it difficult to consume the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables daily, such powders are an easy way to enhance any food and maintain a clean label profile.