Rice up to the clean label challenge

Consumer expectations have shifted greatly in recent years when it comes to nutritional food choices and functionalities. Consumers are now actively choosing food products to maintain their well-being. They are also going for products that fit their individual lifestyles.

Increasingly, consumers want to find out what is in their food products as well as to understand the ingredients list. In Asia Pacific, 70 per cent of the consumers say that they almost always or at least often look at the nutritional information and ingredients list of their food and beverage product[1].

Consumers have also been more vocal about wanting more natural ingredients. 62 per cent of Australian consumers indicated they are interested or extremely interested in natural foods according to a research survey carried out by Healthfocus International[2]

In short, consumers are looking for ‘clean label’. For them, ‘clean label’ means fewer ingredients, clear origin of the used ingredients, no added colour, artificial flavours or synthetic substances. Hence, it is important for manufacturers to devote more attention to what is written on the product pack. While claims such as gluten-free, less fat or sugar are important, helping consumers to identify a product with natural or clean labels matter even more. In doing so, consumers will also feel that their concerns are being addressed by the industry.

Consequently, clear and transparent information is imperative in providing products with a clean label and natural appeal to consumers. Given the ever-increasing importance of this aspect of the industry, as demanded by consumers, how then can manufacturers go about addressing the challenge to offer clean label products with good stability and texture while continuing to meet consumers’ high expectations?

Demanding processing conditions

Food manufacturers can now turn to functional clean label rice starch to meet this challenge. Undergoing a thermal production process, the rice starch granules are strengthened, hence achieving performance levels similar to chemically modified food starches without the use of chemicals.

BENEO AsiaPac Managing Director_Christian Philippsen

Rice starches are unique compared to other commonly used starches in the food industry. They come with a neutral taste, white, very small starch granule size (2-8µm), the ability to create soft gel structures, as well as creamy and smooth textures with a good stability. The latter features are related to the unique molecular differences of rice starch (versus other food starches) at the level of amylose (being branched) and amylopectin (lower tendency towards retrogradation).

Ready for Remypure

BENEO, a manufacturer for rice starch, recently launched Remypure – a functional native rice starch that is suitable for multiple applications, including recipes that require severe processing conditions such as sauces, baby food jars, dairy desserts and fruit preparations. This is because the strengthened starch granule provides high stability during processing and performs well, even under demanding processing conditions, like low pH, high temperature or high shear. Consequently, Remypure allows viscosity build-up suitable for both gentle and demanding processing conditions.

This combination of rice origin and innovative technology makes functional rice starch a unique offering for food manufacturers. This modern day rice starch has created new opportunities for manufacturers, as they are now able to come up with clean label benefits as well as unique textures and excellent product stability even under severe conditions.

Most importantly, manufacturers can now leverage native rice starch to achieve what was previously only possible with additives like modified food starches and gums. Also, with BENEO’s rice starch, they can now achieve all these while retaining the ‘clean label’ too.

Consumers today are looking to healthy and nutritious food products that are in line with their individual lifestyles, especially products with clean and natural appeal. Food manufacturers are under pressure to cater to this clean label shift. With the right choice of rice starch in their food formulae, manufacturers can now make the most of this trend by delivering products with cleaner labels, improved taste and texture profiles.

[1] BENEO Consumer Research 2015

[2] Healthfocus International 2015

[Christian Philippsen (picture above) is  Managing Director, BENEO Asia Pacific]