Margaret Malochleb

Margaret Malochleb

Cheeseplate

White Cheddar cheese aged at 10°C for eight months was shown to produce similar liking scores as cheese aged at 7°C for 12 months. © baibaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Cheeseplate

White Cheddar cheese aged at 10°C for eight months was shown to produce similar liking scores as cheese aged at 7°C for 12 months. © baibaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Accelerating maturation of aged cheese

With the growing consumer demand for aged Cheddar cheese, manufacturers often experiment with changes to the cheesemaking process to produce quality cheese more rapidly. Elevating the temperature during maturation reduces refrigeration costs and is the simplest method of accelerating aging, but it can present a number of potential problems, including development of imbalanced or off-flavors and negative changes in texture. A recent study published in the Journal of Food Science evaluated the effect of elevated ripening temperature on the chemical and sensory properties of aged white Cheddar cheese.

During the study, white Cheddar cheese was aged at 7.2°C, 10°C, or 12.8°C for 12 months, with samples evaluated at 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, and 12 months by a trained sensory panel (n = 10). Two consumer sensory panels (n = 120) assessed 8- and 12-month aged cheese for comparison to a commercially available reference sample of the same cheese, aged for 12 months. An electronic tongue was used for analysis of nonvolatile compounds. Results from the trained panel showed that 2-month cheeses were described by milkfat flavor and sweet taste, 5-month cheeses were described by nutty aroma and white color, and 8-, 10-, 11-, and 12-month cheeses developed aged characteristics, such as umami and bitter tastes, brothy aroma, and aged flavor.

Consumer panel results showed similar overall liking scores for the reference cheese and cheeses aged at 10°C or 12.8°C for both evaluations. The electronic tongue could classify samples according to aging month with a validity value of 92.6%. In conclusion, the electronic tongue served as a valid method of instrumental analysis for Cheddar cheese samples throughout maturation. This study demonstrated that aging white Cheddar cheese for eight months at an elevated storage temperature of 10°C produced cheese similar in consumer acceptance to that aged at 7°C for 12 months.

 

The link between diet and memory

Can diet have an impact on memory as we age? Researcher Luna Xu from the University of Technology Sydney set out to find the answer. After reviewing data from 139,000 older Australians, she discovered strong links among specific food groups, memory loss, and comorbid heart disease or diabetes.

Diets high in fruits and vegetables were found to correlate with lowered odds of memory loss and heart disease; there was also a correlation between high protein consumption and better memory. However, for older individuals, the study’s findings indicated that correlations between diet and memory status may vary. 

For example, individuals over the age of 80 who are most at risk for memory loss and comorbid heart disease were found to consume cereals at low levels, leading Xu to reflect that the role of cereal in preserving memory and inhibiting heart disease may differ for these individuals in comparison with requirements for individuals in other age groups. She added that the results underscore the need for more research into age-specific dietary guidelines.

“The dietary intervention in chronic disease prevention and management, by taking into consideration the fact that older populations often simultaneously deal with multiple chronic conditions, is a real challenge,” Xu said in a press release.

“To achieve the best outcome for our aging population, strong scientific evidence that supports effective dietary intervention in preventing and managing co-occurring chronic conditions is essential,” she added.

Organic agriculture exhibits strong growth

Nearly 3.3 million acres of certified organic field crops were harvested in the United States in 2019, representing a 13% increase in total certified organic field crop acres, according to Mercaris, the market data service and online trading platform for organic, non-GMO, and certified agricultural commodities.

Growth was driven by a 14% increase in organic field crop operations, underpinned by a strong escalation in the number of growers converting land to organic production. Other highlights include a 13% increase in the amount of organic corn harvested; an 11% year-over-year increase in certified organic operations harvesting organic soybeans; and a 16% year-over-year growth in the number of harvested organic wheat acres.

“Despite what can be fairly described as the most difficult growing season in more than a decade, 2019 was a remarkable year for organic production,” said Ryan Koory, director of economics at Mercaris, in a press release. “While growth in the organic industry was anticipated, the 14% year-over-year expansion in certified organic field crop operations well exceeded expectations. Overall acreage expansion did prove to be limited by weather throughout the growing season. That said, the addition of new organic growers suggests that 2020 could see organic production reach new record highs.”

Edibles, drinkables lead Canadian cannabis market

Cannabis was legalized for recreational use in Canada in 2018, and today nearly six in 10 consumers (59%) identify themselves as users or potential users, according to research from Mintel. Additionally, 32% of non-users report that they are “open to trying it,” with edibles being the most intriguing format.

For 20- to 34-year-olds, 47% of non-users who are open to trying cannabis chose edibles as their preferred form while 49% of 35- to 50-year-olds and 48% of those aged 55-plus made the same choice. Overall, 66% of open non-users selected edible and drinkable cannabis as an area of interest. Scott Stewart, senior research analyst at Mintel, explained that edibles and drinkables represent a new avenue for consumers to familiarize themselves with cannabis and better understand the experience.

“In all likelihood, the industry that can benefit the most from the legalization of cannabis—besides the cannabis industry itself—is food and drink,” observed Stewart in a press release. “Our research shows that consumers find themselves eating more while using cannabis, creating sales opportunities for food and drink manufacturers, companies, and brands without the need to actually create edible or drinkable cannabis products. By incorporating cannabis-related messaging in marketing campaigns and on product packaging, food and drink brands can play in the market without making huge investments in research and development and new product innovation.”

Kids Eating Cereal

Breakfast cereal consumption among children has risen rapidly in countries where Western influences are stronger among younger consumers. © Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

Kids Eating Cereal

Breakfast cereal consumption among children has risen rapidly in countries where Western influences are stronger among younger consumers. © Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

 

U.S. diets boost global cereal market

Breakfast cereal is a staple of the Western diet, and its influence is being felt globally, with consumers everywhere contributing to its position as a $35 billion industry, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.

Citing market leaders such as Kellogg and Nestlé as being instrumental in expanding the popularity of cereal throughout Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast countries, the report predicts that Western diets will continue to promote consumption in developing countries, despite a pullback in mature markets.

Among the drivers of growth are rising incomes and the effect of advertising in Brazil, China, and Nigeria, as well as changing dietary preferences in North America and Europe, which are giving rise to new options such as gluten-free, ketogenic, organic, and other niches that require the use of costlier ingredients that add value to the products.

About the Author

Margaret Malochleb, Associate Editor, produces content for the News, New Products, Books, and IFT World departments and researches and writes feature articles on a variety of topics.
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Margaret Malochleb