A. Elizabeth Sloan

From edible glitter and turquoise cheese to the continued immigration of authentic international spices, novel “healthy” ingredients and upscaled ethnic flavors and foods, it’s obvious that Disneyland wasn’t the only place in Anaheim full of fun and adventure in June!

This year’s Food Expo heralded a return to fun in foods, a renewed focus on kids—and grown-up kids, too—the growing sophistication of the ethnic foods movement, an unprecedented demand for “purity,” and an ongoing appetite for foods to go way beyond just maintaining health.

Post 9/11 and the economic blues, it’s not surprising that marketers are making every effort to put more fun in food. Pop Rocks®, Vienna, Va., has positioned its popping candy as an ingredient for ice creams, chocolates, desserts, and cereals, where they can be mixed together or in separate pouches so kids can drop in the exact amount they wish to “hear.” How about Pop Rocks dips, a pouch of popping candy plus a lollipop?

Watson Foods, West Haven, Conn., suggested a wide range of possible new applications for edible glitter, adding eye-catching color to popcorn, cheese snacks, tortilla and potato chips, jelly beans, gummy candies, breads, snack cakes, and more! And, speaking of color, colored ketchups have nothing on the spicy sprinkles (zesty tomato and oregano flavored) that Balchem, State Hill, N.Y., displayed at its hot dog stand. But Kerry Ingredients, Beloit, Wis., took the cake with its new fry-stable color bits, showcased in a kid’s appetizer made using a unique bacon-flavored potato-style breader and specially formulated with blue-colored, grilled cheese–flavored filling.

Taste Is Tops
But taste is tops, and we’ll have more of that too! McIlhenny Co., McIlhenny Island, La., is on fire with a new Chipotle Pepper Tabasco Sauce—made from slow-smoked red jalapeño peppers and showcased in diverse applications from ice cream and pepperoni to chips—and a new Tabasco Pepper Paste, six times hotter than its liquid counterpart, with a less vinegary taste. And Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends have broken new ground again with their flavored but familiar San Francisco Teriyaki (Asian soy and ginger flavors plus American apple cider vinegar and molasses); Southwest Chipotle (seven chilies, tangerine, papaya, and lemon), California Sun Dried Tomato (sun-dried tomatoes, orange peel, and papaya nectar), and Louisiana Red Pepper (cayenne pepper sauce, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and citrus peel). And soy sauce has a variety of new uses, too. Kikkoman International, San Francisco, Calif., featured red soy sauce suitable for fresh and frozen pizza and sweet soy sauces with natural lemon and orange.

Expect more Asian flavors, spicier hacienda and hispanic ingredients, flavorful sauces, sushi and rice applications, an abundance of tasty fruits and vegetables, and highly flavored vegetarian products. Griffith Laboratories, Alsip, Ill., focused on Thai, Singapore, Vietnamese, and Malaysian flavors, featuring Bombay spice chicken, Plum Ginger sauce, and Island Miso Sauce. Edlong Flavors, Elk Grove Village, Ill., offered Thai Shrimp Cakes on Sugar Canes with orange jalapeño sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. Innovative sesame, miso, teriyaki, and stir-fry flavors dominated. Natural seafood flavors were introduced to the North American market by Senmi Ekisu Co., Ltd. (Mitsubishi International Corp., New York, N.Y.).

More-intense hispanic flavors are also on the horizon. Mission Flavors and Fragrances, Foothill Ranch, Calif., sampled chili with lime-seasoned peanuts and chili with lime tomatillo salsa. Sartori Food Corp., Plymouth, Wis., introduced Cotija cheese, a distinctively flavored Mexican-style hard grating cheese, excellent for use over enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, huevos rancheros, and other Mexican dishes. Kerry Ingredients Mexico featured a mole and soy meat tamale called Mexi-Style Beef Pattie with Gallo Sauce and a Sunrise Margarita.

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There was also a strong presence of vegetarian-directed flavors. Metarom USA, Inc., South Burlington, Vt., offered vegetarian sushi-type prototypes dipped in a flavored soy sauce and flavored rice. Flavor & Food Ingredients, Middlesex, N.J., offered all-natural, non-GMO organic vegetarian flavors, including chargrilled, roasted, culinary vegetable flavors (green pepper, mustard) and kosher bacon and ham with no meat. Sun-dried tomato applications remain strong. And Mantrose-Haeuser, West-port, Conn., promoted NatureSeal®, a seal which keeps fresh fruit, potatoes, and vegetables fresh with a wholesome blend of vitamins.

And the trend to savory and smoked flavors continues. Hickory Specialties Inc., Brentwood, Tenn., exhibited all-natural Zesti-smoke—wood smoke condensed in pure mountain water—available in hardwood, hickory, and mesquite flavors. Ariake USA, Orangeburg, N.Y., introduced Gourmet Royal concentrated gourmet sources and roasted brown stocks (“with a chef ”) prepared by classic French methods. Demi-glace de Volaille (browned chicken) and Sauce an L’Americane (brandied lobster sauce) were two yummy examples.

Health and Nutrition, Too
But Food Expo wasn’t all about taste and creative culinary fare. From bone health to diabetic options, the exhibits continued to be dominated by the trend to functional foods, nutraceuticals, fortified foods, organic foods, and healthier foods. Fish oils/DHA, eyesight, antioxidants, diabetes, hypertension, gut health, and natural energizing agents like guarana, taurine, and ginseng got the lion’s share of attention.

The traditional nutrient horsepower race continued. Glanbia Ingredients, Monroe, Wis., announced that Tru-Cal™—Real Calcium from Milk has achieved Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status. It is a natural source of dairy calcium with the appropriate balance of minerals for optimal bone health—phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and zinc—and is also available in a lactose-free version. Roche, Nutley, N.J., reported that lycopene has been self-affirmed as GRAS, and Kemin, Des Moines, Iowa, announced that FloraGlO lutein has achieved GRAS status in seven additional food/beverage categories.

Cognis Nutrition and Health Group, LaGrange, Ill., launched Covitol 1185, a new natural and coated vitamin E succinate—an ester form of d-alpha tocopherol—claiming beneficial oxidative stability. While fortified bar and beverage prototypes were abundant, Watson Foods captured attention with a savory—rather than sweet—high-protein bar with flavors such as tomato/basil, nacho, pizza, and others, with microencapsulated nutrients.

High-protein ingredients will continue to find a welcome consumer market, and savvy manufacturers are following suit. Nuvex Ingredients, Blue Earth, Minn., introduced Proti-Oats® as a replacement for traditional rolled oats. It has more than 50% protein, facilitating unprecedented protein levels in granola, bars, clusters, cookies, muffins, trail mix, hot oatmeal, and toppings. It is available in soy protein or whey protein high-fiber varieties. Watson Foods offered a fortified high-protein cookie premix, with 14 g of protein and 160 kcal.

Whey protein isolates and concentrates, with their strong sulfur and branched-chain amino acid profiles are coming on strong, as are new forms of protein. Propulse pea protein isolate by Helm New York, Inc., Piscataway, N.J., has an excellent amino-acid profile without gluten, lactose, cholesterol, and antinutritional factors. Whey protein may well be the new star in the high-profile high-protein movement. With consumers perceiving high-protein foods as a tool for weight loss and sports, additional bioactive subcomponents of whey protein offer unique benefits, including the promotion of lean body mass and endurance for athletes.

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From non-GMO to new high-protein forms, soy had lots of action. Cargill, Minneapolis, Minn., which offers the Prolisse® line of soy protein isolates with“non-beany taste,” presented new research results related to the antioxidant benefits of isolated soy protein vs whey protein products. Specialized Protein Products, Dana Point, Calif., introduced a soy powder with a minimum protein content of 40%; it can be used to formulate high-quality soy milk or smoothies with water.

A soluble soy polysaccharide called Soyafiber-S has been developed by Mitsubishi in coordination with Fuji Oil Co. The ingredient has up to 70% dietary fiber and the ability to stabilize protein molecules in a low pH range. Low-viscosity, refreshing lactic beverages can be produced. Fuji Oil Co. has a soy peptide that has an amino acid composition similar to that of soy protein. Properties include increased absorption, promotion of a fat metabolism, and and anti-fatigue effect.

Rice milk ingredients, such as those from A&B Ingredients, Fairfield, NJ., were present for the first time this year.

Interest in a wide range of probiotic and prebiotic ingredients continued to flourish. Prebiotic marketer Imperial Sensus, Sugar Land, Tex., featured kid-friendly healthy foods, including fiber-rich hot dogs, crispy low-fat French fries, fiber-filled jelly beans, s’mores, crispy rice treats, and a high-fiber beverage designed just for kids.

Novel Ingredients
While lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, green tea, and choline continued to get widespread attention, Food Expo also had its share of new and novel health ingredients. One notable ingredient was a sardine peptide, Offereda, by Senmi Ekisu Co. It is used in a number of products in Japan to help treat hypertension. Glanbia Ingredients offered Bioferrin® bioactive proteins for immune stimulation and iron supplementation and Salibra 700 bioactive whey concentrate containing IGS and lactoferrin, which helps to maintain the digestive system and has antibacterial activity.

Kikkoman promoted grape seed extract, SoyAct, soy isoflavone aglycone, cranberry juice powder, and its Nice Protein series of drinks, including a blueberry yogurt breakfast drink laced with vitamins and protein; Oh! Beautiful soup mix for health and beauty; a grain-based drink offering five healthy grains; and a cocoa-flavored drink mix for healthy living. OptiPure Chem Co., Los Angeles, Calif., offered kelp-derived fiber from sodium alginate. And Archer Daniels Midland Co, Decatur, Ill., said it will start production of diacylglycerol (DAAG) oil, which has been shown to help promote low levels of body fat and triglycerides in the blood.

Looking to the Future
As we look to the future, it’s clear that marketers are well on their way to making our foods more pleasurable, tasty, and entertaining than ever before. Watch for the line between “healthy” and “not-so-healthy” foods to continue to blur as marketers become more clever at encapsulating nutrients and delivering-health promoting benefits.

by A. Elizabeth Sloan, Contributing Editor