Putting the pizazz in plant-based innovation

How ingredient technology can spark consumer loyalty – and keep plant-based products on supermarket shelves

It’s something of a paradox that one of the regions with the highest meat consumption in the world also ranks among the global top three for veganism. According to the Vegan Society, only the UK has more vegans than Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, a plant-based diet is now the preferred choice of some 2.5 million consumers – just over 12% of the population. That includes vegans, vegetarians and the growing number of flexitarians, who still eat meat and dairy products occasionally but prioritise plant-based food products for health and sustainability reasons.

Many food companies have already tapped into this opportunity. This much is clear from Euromonitor statistics which show the market for plant-based milk alternatives grew 5% year-on-year from 2015 to 2019. Within plant-based alternatives to meat, compound annual growth was 11 per cent in the same period.

The question is: what should brand owners do now to maintain a loyal consumer following in the future?

Michelle Lee, regional marketing director at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, gives her view on the developing plant-based market.

“What we have seen is that many of the plant-based launches do not attract high repeat purchases. This is partly because consumers often buy them out of curiosity alone, and partly because manufacturers are still learning about consumer likes and dislikes within this emerging mainstream category.”

Plant-based and meat-like

Within meat alternatives, one persistent challenge is to recreate the taste and texture of real meat with plant raw materials, as consumers continue to expect a meat-like flavour, succulence and bite.

This is where the newest technology within plant proteins and stabiliser systems can help brands capture consumer loyalty. Textured soy proteins, for instance, can simulate the distinctive bite of a traditional burger, chicken breast or beef jerky. They also enable the protein claim that many consumers look out for on packaging.

Beyond dairy alternatives
Compared to meat alternatives, the market situation for plant-based beverages and yoghurt-style products is somewhat different. Here, consumers are already moving beyond dairy alternatives towards a category that celebrates the novel tastes and textures plant proteins can provide. As Global Data’s 2019 survey of Australian consumers revealed, non-dairy drinks based on soy, oats, nuts and seeds are already widely accepted. Among them, oat-based product launches have the highest growth rate of all.

“Oats are a familiar cereal known for their high nutritional quality and mild, nutty flavour with no off-notes. So they satisfy consumers’ health and taste criteria easily. But, for manufacturers, there are several technical challenges to solve when producing appealing and shelf-stable oat-based products,” Lee says.

Resolving oat-based issues
Oat-based coffee creamers are one example where the difficulty lies in delivering a delicious milk-like foam without protein separation when the creamer is mixed into hot coffee. Application trials at DuPont have shown that a combination of oat, soluble fibre and carob protein is a possible solution, resulting in a stable UHT beverage with a creamy mouthfeel and light oat flavour.

In yoghurt-style oat snacks, the right selection of starter, protective and probiotic cultures can optimise texture, delay spoilage and contribute to a healthy image. Label-friendly stabiliser blends and plant proteins add extra functionality.

Textural limitations and consumer demand for ‘clean’ product labels may have restricted plant-based innovation in the past. With today’s ingredient technology, however, manufacturers have many opportunities to spark consumer interest – and keep it.

 

Strengthened organisation focuses on growth in ingredient and process development

DuPont Nutrition and Health announced it is expanding its research and development team by creating a “clean label hub” at the Brabrand facility.

Intending to boost its project pipeline in healthy nutrition and clean label texturant offerings, six new employees will join the existing team to focus on both ingredient and process development.

The hub will feature experts with backgrounds in clean label and sustainability – two fields that often work together and serve related purposes.

Working closely with existing project teams, the hub will bring products to market quickly and help grow the existing project pipeline.

READ: DuPont Nutrition and Health develops a new, naturally sourced monoglyceride emulsifier

Gerard Lynch, research and development leader, for systems and texturants, emulsifiers and sweeteners, said clean label was about creating foods and beverages with ingredients that consumers recognised, felt good about putting into their bodies, and that respected the earth and its resources.

“Our ingredients are already used in many applications that consumers consider clean label, but there are tremendous opportunities to innovate – creating ingredients that are even more sustainable, using a larger part of the natural raw materials, while providing health benefits to consumers,” said Lynch.

“Committing to this innovation is critical for our ongoing success and growth,” he said.

With the ability to use the broadest capabilities in terms of natural raw materials access, processing, across fruits, vegetables, seaweeds and nutritional science, DuPont Nutrition and Health can develop functional ingredients that meet consumer expectations.

The hub will help customers continue to navigate clean label trends in a proactive and sustainable way.

DuPont Nutrition and Health is seeking creative scientists and engineers to identify ways to convert sustainable and natural raw materials into clean label solutions that meet consumer demands for simplicity and authenticity, all without compromising taste, texture and nutritional qualities.

Planned to be in place by early 2019, the clean label texturants team will have the opportunity to tackle exciting projects to provide texture and stability for multiple food applications.

DuPont Nutrition and Health global sustainability lead, Mikkel Thrane, said the company was excited to launch the hub and put additional team members into place that will help us advance its innovation strategy to support customers.

“This hub will enable us to continue integrating sustainability and the UN sustainable development goals into our work, and the investment we are making will help us develop healthier, more nutritious and sustainable ingredients for our food supply,” Thrane said.

DuPont Nutrition and Health develops a new, naturally sourced monoglyceride emulsifier

DuPont Nutrition and Health has developed a new, naturally sourced monoglyceride emulsifier that brings food manufacturers improved production and handling efficiencies.

Monoglycerides are among the most widely used emulsifiers in the food industry, but they can become lumpy under certain conditions.

Many food manufacturers faced a challenge with product flowability when using powdered, inhomogenous emulsifiers.

This led DuPont Nutrition and Health to develop the unique beaded format of DIMODAN HP 90-M – a homogenous emulsifier that enhances food manufacturers productivity.

READ: Eurofins helps identify inaccuracies in probiotic labelling with DuPont assays

DIMODAN HP 90-M from the DuPont Danisco ingredient range comes in a beaded format that helps reduce lump formation, resulting in better product flowability.

In addition, dust formation is significantly reduced during production, leading to improved safety and health conditions for the handlers.

DIMODAN HP 90-M delivers the same functionalities and quality as existing monoglyceride emulsifiers and can be applied in various applications including margarine, non-dairy creamers, whipping gels and many more applications.

Sun Ligong, regional product manager, said standard monoglyceride emulsifiers came in a fine, powdered format with inhomogeneous particles that ultimately caused lumps and flow-related issues.

“Our beaded format is coarse with more homogeneous particles that prevents lumping and increases flowability. This brings a number of enhancements to the production and shipping stages for our customers who now have products with more consistency,” said Ligong.

DIMODAN HP 90-M is a naturally and sustainably sourced emulsifier, based on palm oil.

As of January 2017, DuPont Nutrition and Health completed its switch to 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil and palm oil derivatives used in its global emulsifier production.

This means the company’s entire global range of palm-based emulsifiers is now based on RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil and derivatives, which promotes the production of palm oil with greater consideration of its environmental and social impacts.

The DIMODAN HP 90-M is part of the broad DIMODAN range from DuPont Danisco, which is designed to help food manufacturers develop and produce hydrogenation-free products.

Based on sunflower, rapeseed, palm or soya bean oil, these emulsifiers are commonly used in bakery, oils, fats, dairy, frozen desserts, confectionery and plastics, and are available in various formats and packaging.

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