KAREN NACHAY

Mintel predicts 2010 flavor trends
New flavors and familiar favorites are expected in foods and beverages debuting in the U.S. market in 2010, according to market research company Mintel.

Cardamom is a popular spice used in some Indian, Arabic, and even Scandinavian recipes, but Mintel predicts the inclusion of this spicy-sweet ingredient in popular confectionery products like chocolate, as well. Lending credence to Mintel’s prediction is the fact that Cosmic Chocolate recently released a chocolate bar flavored with cardamom and orange.

Sweet potatoes, which are high in dietary fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C, will probably find a place as an ingredient in foods marketed as healthful choices, according to the research company. The use of hibiscus, a common flavor of teas, will expand into other beverage categories such as flavored waters, says Mintel. Hint Inc. offers Premium Essence Water in hibiscus-vanilla flavor, for example.

The slightly tart flavor of the Brazilian fruit cupuaçu is showing up in sweet food products like Musselman’s lime- and cupuaçu-flavored applesauce. Mintel reports that cupuaçu, known for containing more than 10 vitamins and antioxidants, is the next superfruit. Rose water flavors many Middle Eastern foods, but as Mintel learned, it is also being used in dessert products in the United States. Ghalia Organic Desserts in Los Angeles flavors its brownies with rose water, for example. Finally, spices and flavors associated with different Latin cuisines will continue to grow in popularity with American consumers, Mintel forecasts.

IFT issues report on traceability
A new technical study commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and released by the Institute of Food Technologists recommends guidelines to establish a comprehensive product tracing system to track the movement of food products effectively from farm to table.

The study authors, including experts from academia, industry, and government, collected information from 58 food companies involved in produce, packaged consumer goods, processed ingredients, distribution, foodservice, retail, and animal feed. The analysis included a review of diverse product tracing methods, practices in non-food industries, and standards and regulations pertaining to traceability worldwide. In addition, IFT experts proposed changes in current systems and practices to help track the movement of food products from farm to table to ultimately protect public health.

To view the report, visit www.ift.org/traceability. This report will be available in the January 2010 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. Visit www.ift.org, and click on “Publications.”

Simplicity tops Innova trend list
Consumers’ tendency to go “back to basics” has increased interest in naturally derived foods and finished food products made with the least amount of ingredients possible, according to Innova Market Insights. This “sense of simplicity” is one of 10 food trends and developments expected to emerge or grow in 2010.

Other trends noted by the market research company include continued interest in locally sourced, more sustainable, and fair-trade products; emphasis on the inherent health benefits of foods; increased scrutiny of ingredients that make out-of-the-ordinary health claims by regulatory groups around the world; demand for immunity-boosting ingredients and products; inclusion of energy-stimulating ingredients, not only in beverages, but in other food products like confectionery; growth in “free-from” foods; rediscovery of cooking and entertaining skills; interest in “extreme” or very hot flavors; and formulating regional and ethnic products with ingredients from the region to claim a level of authenticity.

Additionally, Innova reported that levels of new product development activity are positive, with more launches in the first 10 months of 2009 than for the same period of 2008.

Test analyzes moisture in peanuts
Too much moisture in in-shell peanuts can promote the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxins. A new instrument is making it easier for peanut producers and processors to determine the moisture and density of in-shell peanuts. Scientists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service developed a microwave meter that instantaneously measures both of these quality indicators.

Here is how it works. In-shell peanuts loaded into the sample holder are hit with low-intensity microwaves from an antenna. The microwaves pass through the pods and are received by another antenna that faces the transmitting antenna. As the microwaves pass through the pods, their alternations in energy level and velocity are measured, and a computer records moisture and density measurements.

The scientists stress that this method is rapid and nondestructive, and it eliminates the need for shelling the peanut pods.

The instrument has a provisional patent and is being tested at five peanut buying stations in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.

Success for potential flavor enhancer
Glutathione, a sulfur-containing tripeptide, shows promise as a flavor enhancer in complex food systems like beef soup.

Researchers with Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea, examined the sensory characteristics of beef soup samples with only added glutathione (GSH) or monosodium glutamate (MSG) at different levels, or a mixture of these. They also conducted consumer testing of the samples for overall liking as well as the flavor intensities of beef, seasoning, and MSG. Then, they performed partial least square regression to review the relationships between the descriptive data and consumer data.

The results showed that GSH significantly increased beef odor and flavor, green onion odor and flavor, and garlic odor and flavor in beef soup as compared to MSG and the control. The subjects who participated in the consumer tests reportedly preferred the samples that contained both GSH and MSG, with results indicating higher perceived flavor intensities of beef, seasonings, and MSG. The researchers conclude that while their study indicates that GSH shows promise as a flavor enhancer, more studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of the ingredient—used both alone and in combination with other flavor enhancers—in different food systems.

The study, “Sensory Characteristics and Consumer Acceptability of Beef Soup with Added Glutathione and/or MSG,” was published online early in Journal of Food Science, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01411.x.

General Mills plans sugar reduction
General Mills, Minneapolis, Minn., recently announced plans to reduce sugar in its cereals marketed to children, with the ultimate goal to reduce sugar to single-digit grams of sugar per serving.

The initiative will extend globally to 130 countries, with Cereal Partners Worldwide—the global cereal joint venture in which General Mills is a partner—adopting similar commitments.

Food formulators will reduce sugar in a series of small steps. “Maintaining great taste while continuing to reduce sugar is a challenge,” said Jeff Harmening, President of General Mills’ Big G cereal division. “It requires technology, time, and investment.”

Some of the reformulated cereals will hit store shelves this spring.

Nominations sought for frozen food award
The Frozen Food Foundation and the International Association for Food Protection are accepting nominations for the Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award. The award honors excellence in freezing research and includes a plaque and a $2,000 honorarium. The nomination deadline is Feb. 16, 2010. For more information, visit www.frozenfoodfoundation.org or www.foodprotection.org.


What’s new with food companies

• Allied Blending & Ingredients has sold its Industrial Ingredients Inc. division to Chicago Sweeteners.

Covance plans to create a nutritional chemistry and food safety laboratory, which will be affiliated with the National Center for Food Protection in Battle Creek, Mich.

CP Kelco plans to expand parts of its pectin processing facility in Lille Skensved, Denmark.

Danisco has acquired Sorbial, an agricultural biotechnology company.

Fortitech has completed construction of its manufacturing, laboratory, and distribution facility in Malaysia.

National Starch recently entered into an agreement to acquire Penford’s specialty grain wet milling and manufacturing facility in Lane Cove, Australia.

Naturex and Natraceutical will merge their ingredient divisions.

Neogen Corp. has acquired the BioKits food safety business of Gen-Probe Inc.

• Paramount Farms has opened its new almond manufacturing plant in Lost Hills, California.

SaltWorks Inc. has doubled the size of its warehouse and factory in Woodinville, Wash., from 35,000 sq ft to 70,000 sq ft.

Sopakco recently opened a food processing and packaging plant in Mullins, S.C.

Wixon Inc. has launched its redesigned Web site at www.wixon.com; the Web site contains easy-to-navigate features and expanded content.