A Chocoholic's Dream

A new product answers connoisseurs’ demands for a richer, thicker drinking chocolate. Peter’s™ Burgundy® Semi-sweet Chocolate is now available in finely ground form, eliminating the need for grinding blocks or wafers. This new product from Cargill is pure chocolate, not a cocoa powder and sugar blend. Chocolatiers can make drinking chocolate with fruity, winey undertones, create their own signature-flavored drinks by adding spices or simply repackage the product and sell it to their customers. Peter’s Finely Ground Burgundy® Semisweet Chocolate is a versatile product that can be used as a seeding agent for tempering chocolate or as a delicious garnish for desserts such as cakes, tortes and mousses. Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate, Lori Fligge, 952-742-2275, lori_fligge@cargill.com, www.cargill.com

It's Easy to Increase Iron

A proprietary blend of GRAS-approved ingredients that have been temperature-dried forms a versatile water-soluble iron compound with flexible organoleptic properties. Tasty Iron™, from Global Calcium through its exclusive U.S. agent, American International Chemical Inc. (AIC), is a new source of bioavailable iron to the U.S. market. American International Chemical Inc., 800-238-0001, www.aicma.com

Naturally Sweet

As the natural foods market grows, consumers continue to look for alternatives, specifically when it comes to highly refined sugars. In response to this demand, Mastertaste’s Natural Products Division has developed a line of natural sweetener powders using its proprietary vacuum freeze-drying technology. Honey, maple syrup and molasses are natural sweeteners that deliver the same sweet flavor as sugar--with the benefit of delivering essential vitamins and minerals. Mastertaste, Nancy Lawrence, 201-708-9264, nancy.lawrence@mastertaste.com

Clean-label Starches

A new flyer on starches explains how “clean label” functional native starches can expand food manufacturers’ options by providing exceptional freeze/thaw and shelflife stability in wholesome, natural convenience foods. According to NOVATION Prima Functional Native Starches, from National Starch, consumers are concerned about additives and are influenced by product claims, health benefits and ingredient statements. NOVATION starches are made with a revolutionary, patented technology that enables food manufacturers to produce high-quality, stable and convenient foods with “natural” or “organic” claims. National Starch Food Innovation, David Manion, 908-685-5395, dave.manion@nstarch.com, www.foodinnovation.com

Website Seeks Innovative Food Scientists

InnoCentive is the first online forum that allows world class scientists (Solvers) and R&D-based companies to collaborate in “open innovation.” The company offers monetary incentives to scientific challenges that include foodservice technology and R&D ideas that can be developed into viable products or methods.

The use of prizes to spur innovation has benefits for all involved. Started six years ago by drug maker Eli Lilly, InnoCentive now has Seeker clients that span the food industry, consumer products, agro sciences and specialty and diversified chemicals industry sectors. InnoCentive charges clients, or “Seekers,” to broadcast scientific problems on its website, where scientists, or “Solvers,” are offered cash to find solutions. Interestingly, both Seekers and Solvers remain anonymous. This is an advantage, because the winning solution is based on the science rather than on the name or background of the scientist.  

Dr. Jill Ann Panetta, chief scientific officer for InnoCentive, has a strong belief in the company’s goals. In her view, InnoCentive is “connecting companies looking for answers with scientists who have already asked the questions.” Included among the challenges on the group’s website are many that would interest food scientists. For example, InnoCentive Challenge 4494931 posts the task of “reducing fat in fried vegetable.” With a prize of $20,000 to the food scientist who can find a method for the preparation of reduced fat fried vegetable, the incentive is both monetary and of interest to anyone in the food science/nutrition fields. Another InnoCentive Challenge seeks methods to mask flavors. Still other challenges involve questions like developing pressure-sensitive adhesive for re-sealing bags or improving adhesion of powders to food substances. While some require practical technology, others require only a written proposal. Visit the website for more information and to view current challenges. InnoCentive, www.innocentive.com.

Barbara T. Nessinger, Contributing Editor

Widely Functional Fibers

Natural oat fibers and hydrocolloids provide a wide range of functionality and improved performance within bakery, ready-to-eat cereals, meal replacement bars, snack foods and even ground meats or sausages. Grain Millers offers fiber ingredients that feature high lipid- and water-binding, improved texture and higher phytochemical properties than any other fiber on the market today. For fiber, Grain Millers is the natural choice. Grain Millers, Darren Schubert, 800-443-8972, ext. 6460

Nurturing Bacteria

Harvested by native American peoples and used as a food source by the Lewis and Clark expedition, Wild Sunflower Root is a rich, low-calorie and low-glycemic source of prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. Vita-Pakt® Citrus Products Co. has introduced organic Wild Sunflower Root flour, a whole-food ingredient that nurtures the healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. It also contains significant levels of protein and arginine, an amino acid associated with natural body tissue repair and immune health. It can be used in breads, nutrition bars, cereals and other foods and labeled as either “Wild Sunflower Root” or as “Jerusalem Artichoke” in the ingredient legend. Vita-Pakt Citrus Products Co., 800-935-7258, sales@vita-pakt.com, www.Vita-Pakt.com

Easy Fiber

Sprinkling flaxseed onto cereals, yogurts or salads is an easy and tasty way to add fiber and nutrition to the consumer diet. FLAX-IT!™ Flaxseed Nuggets from ENRECO Inc. provide a convenient, tasty and attractive way to add the health benefits of milled, whole-grain flaxseed to foods. Food product applications range from baked goods, pancakes and nutrition bars to fruit snacks, yogurt and salad toppings, and confections. The nuggets are especially rich in omega-3 oils, antioxidants and total dietary fiber; they are gluten-free, trans fat-free and contain no known allergens. Special formulations and flavors can be customized to specific customer needs. ENRECO Inc., 800-962-9536, sales@enreco.com, www.ENRECO.com

All About Gelatin

A comprehensive work of reference on the topic of gelatin has been published by the scientific publishers Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany. The Handbook of Gelatine is a manual of all current and numerous potential applications of the versatile protein gelatin and is aimed principally at technologists and application specialists in science and industry. It provides detailed information on the technological and physiological properties of the multi-talented gelatin as well as on its manufacture, processing and applications. It is available commercially in a hard cover format and in English, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese, ISBN: 978-3-527-31548-2. Wiley-VCH, +49 (0) 62 01-60 64 00, service@wiley-vch.de, www.wiley-vch.de

2007 Top Ten Hot Flavors and Fragrances

Today’s consumers recognize healthy alternatives, and “organic” and “natural” flavors may be a part of those choices. New fruits and flavors that are becoming popular in foods include pomegranate, originally launched in the beverage industry, but today in everything from candles to yogurts; acai berry, with its high levels of antioxidant properties; goji berry (wolfberry), another high-antioxidant fruit; lulo fruit, extremely popular in Colombia where it is used as a fruit drink; mamey fruit, with a taste that’s a mix between apricot, peach, and papaya and mangosteen, once recognized by Queen Victoria as the “queen of fruits.” Others include blood orange, giving consumers a new take on a familiar taste; fresh ginger root, known for its distinct sharp sensation; guavasteen (feijoa), a high-antioxidant fruit from New Zealand; and cashew apple (marañón), actually the fruit that the cashew nut grows from, currently a popular high-antioxidant fruit drink in Brazil. Some of these top ten flavors and fragrances are already having great success in current markets and some may blossom into these markets in the next two years.  Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Michael Natale, 800-323-4387, mnatale@belff.com

International Introductions Rise Sharply

2006 showed a record-breaking barrage of new products, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). The key areas focused on mind, body and general good health, all of which hold strong promise for health and the environment.

Foods that highlight a reduced content of fat, calories, sugar and cholesterol are sharply on the rise. Low-/no-trans fat and gluten-free are the key movers of this category with increases of 120% and 86% respectively. Gluten-free foods experienced strong growth in North America, Europe and Latin America.

Food and drink product launches with an ethical positioning nearly doubled last year, with labeling appearing in more diverse categories. Ethical products are defined as those that include ingredients linked to Fair Trade or sustainability. The ethical movement has spread through more countries in the past year, and does not show signs of slowing in 2007. 

Pomegranate was one of the strongest stars of the year, which is leading companies to look toward the next superfruit--acai, an antioxidant-rich berry with strong exotic appeal. According to Lynn Dornblaser, director of Mintel Custom Solutions, “Acai lends itself well to premium indulgence positioning, offering all of the health benefits of other superfood ingredients.” Mintel, Chanda Rowan, 312-628-7946, crowan@mintel.com, www.mintel.com

--Barbara T. Nessinger, Contributing Editor

Specific Sweeteners

A new line of easy-to-use, category-centric sweetener blends is designed to satisfy the ever-growing requirements of food manufacturers to lower caloric content in finished goods while maintaining flavor profiles. Following extensive application development by Sweetener Solutions, BakeSweet™ was created to reduce sugar/sucrose levels in cakes, cookies, bakery mixes, fillings and icings. GumSweet™ is a proprietary blend designed for use in sugar-free gums. TwoSweet™, a proprietary synergistic blend, offers excellent sucrose flavor for carbonated beverages, fruit drinks, and, powdered beverage mixes. The Sweetener Solutions is distributed by Univar. Univar USA Inc., Karen Weber-Millstein, 425-889-3475, karen.webermillstein@univarusa.com

2006 New Product Innovations of the Year

Each year, Datamonitor’s Productscan Online identifies the top innovators from around the world in various categories, including food and beverages. These eight products represent 2006’s “Build a Better Mousetrap” winners from Datamonitor.

* The solution to the problem of overripe bananas arrives in the U.S. with Chiquita’s Fresh & Ready Bananas in a patented FreshPak plastic sealed tray, which keeps bananas fresh for up to four days longer.
* U.S. consumers may want to try Grapple Sweet Apples, which look like apples but feature a distinctive taste of Concord grapes. Also available for grape enthusiasts are Fizzy Fruit Sparking Fresh Grapes; these refrigerated grapes are carbonated for a new flavor sensation, but they retain their vitamins and fiber content.
* Still another item on the fruit front is Tesco Square-Shaped Watermelon. Consumers in the U.K. can buy a watermelon that is grown with wooden boxes placed over the fruit, thus forming a square shape that is easier to manage.
* A new way to flavor milk without the bother of powders or liquid syrups is Sipahh Milk Flavoring Straws. As it is sipped, special Unibeads containing flavoring dissolve into the milk.
* Now U.S. bird hunters can flavor their game as it is being shot. Season Shot Shot Gun Shell Filled with Spices is “ammo with flavor.” The shot consists of tightly packed seasoning bound by a fully biodegradable food product that melts and spreads into the meat when it is shot.
* Hardy’s Shuttles Wine, available in the U.K. and Australia, features one single-serving plastic bottle of wine, such as Chardonnay or Shiraz, with its own acrylic wine glass. The glass seals the bottle, is tamper-proof and is opened by a twist-top action.
* Environmentalists and economists will both love the Better Water Drinking Water Filter with Corn-based Bottle. The 16.5oz water bottle is made of corn and has its own built-in filter which removes chlorine and allows consumers to use tap water. It is also refillable (up to 90 times) and 100% renewable. Datamonitor, London, Anne Bourgeouis, abourgeois@datamonitor.com, www.productscan.com

--Barbara T. Nessinger, Contributing Editor