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Sourcing ingredients locally brings host of benefits

Earlee Products continue to build a reputation for developing innovative new solutions for food manufacturers looking to value add. Image: TensorSpark/AdobeStock

Earlee Products is seeing first-hand the positive flow-on effect of sourcing ingredients locally. From addressing consumer demand to ensuring a better supply of product.

Earlee Products are specialists in the food industry, with technical expertise to help customers achieve the best outcomes when it comes to product quality, safety, compliance, and better food outcomes every time.

Earlee Products continue to build a reputation for developing innovative new solutions for food manufacturers looking to value add.

 The range of products within the product range include dry premix blends (sausage and burger meals, dry rubs and glazes, injection systems, sprinkles, yield extension systems), Butter discs, Stuffing cores, Anti-microbial products, sauces / wet marinades, Baconvenience. 

The success of Earlee’s product development initiatives and progress is to understand both customer needs and market needs.

 Each customer has their own requirements whether it be functionality, nutritional targets, specific ingredient callouts or ease of use for consumers. 

“Country of origin has become very important to consumers and retailers,” said Lea Reid, research and development manager, Earlee Products. 

“Supermarkets want to maximise the number on that sliding bar scale for the consumers to see. 

“And with the current environment with freight and shipping delays, it is in our best interest to use Australian ingredients to avoid those delays, which can be up to as much as six weeks.”

Australian Native ingredients

A current trend driven by consumer demand is the inclusion of Australian Native ingredients in foods.  

Australian natives are increasingly featured on restaurant menus, food magazines and televised cooking shows.  

A lot of consumers want to try the different flavours and reap the reported natural health benefits of native ingredients. The food industry is experiencing a shift, with native Australian ingredients becoming an increasingly popular choice.

Australian native ingredients, once overlooked, are now sought after by chefs and food manufacturers worldwide.  Australia is host to many native crops; however, sustainability and continuity of supply plays a key role in product development. 

 Earlee’s product development technologists understand this consumer demand and trend and we work with Australian native suppliers to understand the supply, availability, and sustainability of ingredients.  

Once a supply has been secured, the creative fun can begin.  

Some of the Australian native ingredients that have recently been incorporated into products include Saltbush, Lemon Aspen, Mountain pepper leaf, Davidson Plum, and finger lime. 

This inclusion of indigenous ingredients not only brings new tastes but also helps in preserving the country’s rich culinary heritage and supports Australian small and developing businesses including indigenous businesses.

Provenance of Australian ingredients

Provenance of Australian native ingredients are also important to consumers and retailers.  

A strong aspect of research at Earlee Products is exploring ingredients native to Australia and establishing provenance information and narration around such.  Supplier relationship is key in defining the provenance of ingredients.  

Some ingredients with strong provenance narrative within Australia which appeals to consumers and retailers is Australian honey, native ingredients, sugar, garlic, salt, and some pepper varieties.

Clean label claims

Consumers and retailers are scrutinising labels more so than ever before.  Earlee’s development process uses ingredients that are easily identifiable and achieve the desired outcome with the motto of less is better.

“Retailers and consumers are increasingly looking for more clean label products, the lesser ingredients on the label the better. Especially around preservatives and alike,” said Reid. 

Sauce concentrates which is a range of products that are currently being expanded, taste authentic as they do not rely on acidulants for preservation, instead the development finesse focuses on refrigeration and specifically selected ingredients for preservation. Secondary preservation is not required.

The development of clean label products uses natural physical and culinary aspects of ingredients rather than the overuse of starches and hydrocolloid thickeners to
achieve consistency.

Earlee Products have developed a clean label injection system for water retention and succulence in processed meat products.  This is appealing within the current market.  

Earlee Products strives to provide non-allergenic products.

There are also a range of natural flavours at our fingertips, for example, umami, yuzu, fried onion, and matcha. 

Country of Origin – Australian ingredients

“The last thing we want to do is tell our customers we can’t deliver because of a delay in one vital ingredient,” said Reid. 

To avoid this, locally sourced ingredients are critical, while also addressing the demands of consumers looking to support local. By doing so, the manufacturer and retailer are able to address several areas of concern for some consumers. Including: 

  • Satisfies consumer and retail demand
  • Reduced freight from abroad
  • Reduces environmental impacts from excessive shipping
  • Supports Australian economy and local businesses
  • Responsiveness and quick turnaround from order to delivery is achieved through minimal delays in transport
  • Reduced packaging

Brett McMullen, general manager, Earlee Products, said the impact of COVID-19 on international shipping and logistics has had a long-term flow on effect when it comes to provenance of ingredients, beyond supporting local. 

McMullen said as many brands found themselves with stock and ingredients shortages, those who were able to source locally were also able to remain on the shelves. Which had a positive impact for the brands. 

“It was the consistency of supply which really helped them,” he said. 

“The providers who are able to ensure their offerings were on the shelf garnered some loyalty from consumers. Even if they switched to it during the COVID-19 pandemic. The product won them over and they may have stuck with it.” 

This demonstrated that consumers were willing to switch allegiance to other brand’s products if the circumstances were right, which bleeds over to provenance and quality of ingredients supply. 

Low sodium, low sugar claims

Consumers are always on the lookout for ingredient labelling that has reduced sugar and sodium content.  

With this in mind, Earlee’s product development team have a range of ingredients within their palette.

 Finding alternative to boost flavours include yeast extracts, natural flavour enhancers to enhance the perception of saltiness without the addition of sodium.  

A strong supplier relationship is crucial in staying abreast of ingredient options and availability.

Earlee Products continues to build a strong reputation for developing innovative new solutions for food manufacturers looking to value add with premium elements without a huge capital investment. 

Lea Reid, Research and Development manager, Earlee Products, said it was a critical part of the company’s approach, and success, to intrinsically understand the needs and goals of customers. 

“The first part of delivering ‘the brief’ is accurately understanding it. No two briefs are the same and each customer comes with their own unique requirements,” said Reid. 

“We at Earlee Products, are all about building close relationships with our customers and understanding on a deeper level what our customers want to achieve and how they envision the end product to be.” 

Accurately understanding the goals and needs of customers’ is always a critical part of Earlee Products’ approach and success in the food and beverage manufacturing space.  

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