There’s no question that food and beverage consumers are becoming more discerning about the products they choose. Concerns about everything from nutrition to ingredient sourcing to sustainability are playing a part in buying decisions. At FIRST, suppliers showcased how they are responding to consumer demands with developments in technology, ingredient sourcing, and flavoring that are opening new avenues for innovation while keeping sustainability top of mind.
Technology is transforming every aspect of food production, with ingredient suppliers and product developers mining a vast array of tools, including traditional methods such as enzyme technology and fermentation, and more recent advances, like gene editing, to lower the environmental impact and improve the taste and nutritional value of food.
Among traditional technologies, fermentation is enjoying a resurgence as well as a reimagining, with precision techniques being used in the production of new forms of protein via sophisticated microbial fermentation processes. Lisa Dyson, CEO of Air Protein, presented her view of the future of fermentation in a keynote talk that centered on how her company is using fermentation to convert carbon dioxide into oils and protein (see Q&A with Dyson in this issue).
Sustainability is also a driving force for FIRST exhibitor Biorigin, whose yeast extracts and derivatives are produced from fermentable sugar and sugarcane yeast cream. Designed to bring taste to vegan, vegetarian, and meat analogue recipes, the ingredients are animal origin free and build taste by delivering savory, umami, specific taste notes, and color, while reducing sodium and sugar.
Ohly takes fermentation processing to the next level with its X-SEED yeast-based bionutrients, which are designed to help the biotechnology industry achieve high yields, titers, and productivity by meeting the unique nutrient requirements of a variety of fermentation processes. Ohly’s diverse portfolio of yeast-based nutrient solutions offers an optimal nutrient mixture for each specific process.
For animal-genetics company Genus, better breeding is at the heart of a more sustainable food system. The company partners with small and large farms to breed pigs and cattle with genetic traits that help produce meat and milk more efficiently and sustainably.
Disease resistance is an important aspect of the company’s gene editing and advanced reproductive biology technologies. “Our mission,” says Mark Cigan, trait development director, “is to improve animal genetics and then have the animal be resistant to diseases, whether it be viruses or bacteria, in the absence of applying antibiotics.”
A sharper focus on food waste has fueled the development of upcycled foods in a big way. Byproducts that once were used for compost or animal feed are working their way onto mainstream supermarket shelves in the form of snack foods, cereals, bread flour, and even beverages. At FIRST, several exhibitors made headway in the upcycled space with new ingredients that are filling a growing niche.
For Renewal Mill, upcycling is not only a way to fight climate change and food loss but provides an avenue for turning byproducts from food manufacturing into carbon-neutral, superfood ingredients and premium, plant-based pantry staples. The company’s upcycled organic okara flour, for example, offers versatility as well as outstanding nutrition.
Okara is derived from the soybean pulp byproduct left over from the manufacture of soy milk and tofu. Renewal Mill sources its okara from USDA-certified organic soybeans, which are dehydrated and milled into a light, fluffy flour with fine particle size. The ivory color and neutral flavor provide versatility along with the benefit of adding protein and fiber to applications ranging from baked goods to plant-based meats.
Other products in Renewal Mill’s carbon-neutral upcycled ingredients portfolio include oat protein, sunflower meal, and gluten-free spent grain. The company also offers custom product formulation services that include the opportunity to work with a James Beard Award winner in the creation of upcycled solutions.
At ReGrained, the company’s patented upcycling technology has been used to create ReGrained SuperGrain+, an economical and environmentally friendly grain powder rich in plant protein, dietary fiber, and probiotics. Created from desugared, sprouted ancient grains that were byproducts from beer production, its functionality and nutritional profile allow it to be used in many applications.
ReGrained has also rescued other food byproducts, including pressings from juice, and oats and almonds left over from the production of nut milks, to create co-developed products for global food brands. As a co-founder of the Upcycled Foods Association, ReGrained also offers product development services through its Upcycled Food Lab, which helps customers develop products from concept to market.
Consumers in every demographic are becoming more knowledgeable and demanding about flavors that awaken their senses. And FIRST exhibitors responded with a creative array of novel and throwback flavor options suitable for a spectrum of food and beverage products.
Among the newest flavor profiles Bell Flavors and Fragrances is offering is the earthy, fruity aroma and smoky warmth of the cobanero chili pepper. Originating from the highlands of central Guatemala, in the city of Coban, the pepper has roots dating back to the Mayan era, and has played a key role in indigenous cuisine for centuries. The cobanero chili pepper’s unique flavor profile is well-suited to meats, stews, and salads, and is often a key ingredient in spice mixes, rubs, salsas, and hot sauces.
Bold, spicy flavors are also a favorite of millennials, and the meat flavors offered by Flavor & Fragrance Specialties seek to fill the bill. According to the company, Hispanic cuisines are popular among the younger set, with desirable flavors going well beyond traditional tacos and salsa to embrace a rich mix of standout tastes, colors, and textures. The company’s FFS Enchilada Flavor, for example, offers an aromatic blend of chili and cumin with a rich tomato sauce, nuances of corn tortilla, and authentic meat notes.
On the sweet side, nostalgic and dessert flavors are playing a starring role in a variety of baked goods and confectionery offerings. Custom Flavors is featuring a full complement of dessert flavors that work with a variety of textures and consistencies. These include Birthday Cake, Churro, Red Velvet Cake, and Tiramisu. Taking a look back, the company’s line of nostalgic flavors brings back memories of the country fair, penny candy store, and soda shop through offerings such as Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, Rainbow Candy, and Old Fashioned Root Beer.
To learn more about ingredient, process, and flavor innovations, FIRST attendees can access the supplier suites, as well as an on-demand library of insights from scientific sessions, panel discussions, and keynote presentations, by visiting
iftfirst.org through Dec. 31, 2021.