Fruit and vegetable powders add clean label nutrition, colour and flavour

25 Jun 2018

Fruit and vegetable powders are appearing in a range of foods and drinks to improve their flavour, colour, nutrition and texture, driven by the trend toward whole foods and consumer desire to boost fruit and vegetable consumption.

Fruit and vegetable powders add clean label nutrition, colour and flavour

The market for fruit and vegetable ingredients is set to grow at a 5.8% CAGR to reach $216 billion by 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets. The market researcher says demand is strong from many categories, including beverages, confectionery, ready-to-eat products, bakery and dairy. Europe is the largest regional market for fruit and vegetable ingredients, but the Asia Pacific region is poised for rapid growth because of increasing disposable incomes, a growing middle class, and advances in food processing technologies.

Fruit and vegetable powders can be used in many ways, including for naturally derived flavours and colours, as well as for their nutraceutical properties, as manufacturers of functional foods and drinks aim to leverage their phytonutrient content.

However, processing fruits and vegetables into dehydrated powders still holds challenges. Sweet fruits can be difficult to process because of their stickiness, and their sugars can burn if they are dried too quickly at high temperatures. Meanwhile, delicate leafy greens and herbs need to be handled carefully to avoid damage. Poor methods of extraction, storage or processing can lead to lower nutritional value, faded colours and bland flavours, effectively cancelling out the very properties that make such ingredients attractive to manufacturers.

France-based Naturex is one company that gets round these issues with a low temperature spray drying process. It dries fruit and vegetables slowly at under 50°C, allowing them to retain more of their original nutritional and aesthetic characteristics, and making them easier to work with. Hot spray dried tomato powder, for instance, settles to the bottom of a solution, while cold spray drying allows it to remain suspended.

The Colombian company Colorganics takes a similar approach, using a controlled dehydration process to retain fruits’ and vegetables’ original flavour, colour and nutrients. Its extracts can be used as colouring compounds in a wide range of applications, and it specifically targets hues that can replace other commonly used colourings, such as its chlorophyll- and carmine-free green and red colourings.

Food manufacturers are also attracted to powdered fruits and vegetables because they retain their nutrient content for much longer than fresh, and are relatively easy to transport. This makes it easier to use exotic superfoods, like acai berry, goji berry, and acerola, in foods and beverages far from their origins and, with careful processing, to make claims about their nutritional value.

While powdered products promise to increase consumers’ fruit and vegetable intake, they could also help tackle food waste. Earlier this year, researchers at Hort Innovation in Australia developed a powder from imperfect-looking broccoli that would otherwise have been thrown away. They say it could be used in soups, smoothies and baked goods – even in coffee – or to hide vegetables in meals for fussy children.

Broccoli lattes may not sound particularly appealing, but such innovative ideas are needed to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption. According to Eurostat figures, most of us fall far short of the recommended five-a-day (or the World Health Organization’s 400 grams). On average, just 14.1% of Europeans eat five or more portions per day, and a third of the EU population over the age of 15 does not consume any fruits or vegetables in a day.

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