The Next Generation of Sodium and Calorie Reduction Innovations

29 Oct 2013

There is no doubt that health and wellness has been a macro trend of the last 10 years, if not longer, and it is now routine activity for a product developer to consider. In 2012, Leatherhead Food Research undertook an industry survey as part of our ongoing emerging technology and open innovation initiative Food Innovation: […]

The Next Generation of Sodium and Calorie Reduction Innovations

There is no doubt that health and wellness has been a macro trend of the last 10 years, if not longer, and it is now routine activity for a product developer to consider.

In 2012, Leatherhead Food Research undertook an industry survey as part of our ongoing emerging technology and open innovation initiative Food Innovation: INTENT. The survey asked what objectives were considered the most important in the context of investment in new technology. It was found that over 55% still considered that, despite big moves within the manufacturing industry to improve sustainability and resource efficiency, the primary technology innovations needed to remain focused on the product, either to deliver better quality or new products.

Health and wellness was considered as less of a priority than both sustainability and resource efficiency, maybe indicating a tide of change in the focus of development teams for the coming years.   However, when asked to consider a range of issues or themes and whether an emerging technology was the only way of achieving a step change in that area, an interesting picture emerged.

In Figure 2, the need for investment in salt and fat reduction is clearly shown, suggesting that reductions in salt and fat that are possible by currently known methods are at their maximum. This was further endorsed through an independent report produced by Leatherhead Food Research, later in 2012, on behalf of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) which echoed this summary in relation to salt.

Sodium reduction

Salt reduction has been a key focus of the food industry for a number of years, and whilst the incremental and stealth reduction of salt has been successful in reducing the overall sodium content of many products, a step change will be needed to achieve further reductions. This next generation of reduced salt products may come in the form of true innovation through novel processes, or equally from a culinary approach of using different lower sodium blends and enhancers.

Leatherhead’s Discovery Tours at FiE will explore some of the key opportunities in this arena; technology-driven solutions range from Tate & Lyle’s patented hollow crystal Soda-Lo; some that may seem a reversion to ‘good old-fashioned’ culinary techniques enhancing umami and savoury characteristic with blends of salts, yeast extracts and herbs, to BioOrigin’s BioEnhance bacterial fermentation derivatives that enhance salt perception with no sodium addition.

Calorie reduction

Health and nutrition has been one of the grand challenges for the food and drink industry over the last decade, and whilst Regulation (EU) No. 432/2012, which established the list of general function health claims (Article 13.1 claims) in May 2012, has changed how it is that many companies approach the challenge, it certainly has not stifled the flow of innovation. FiE will certainly showcase many functional seaweed extracts from Nexira to Volactive UltraWhey from Volac. One of the significant changes in the calorie reduction ingredients market since FiE 2011 has been the acceptance and subsequent widespread consideration of stevia. Often seen as a natural sweetener, there will be many stevia suppliers and brands exhibiting at FiE, including Cargill/Truvia, providing a range of options to suit a range of product applications, and PureCircle/Stevia 3.0, which is promoted as being the next generation of stevia.

So, whilst some may consider sustainable production, resource and energy efficiency and waste minimisation as the next big thing, there is no getting away from the fact that salt, fat and sugar reduction are here to stay.

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