Consumer information to hands-on technical advice for formulating beverages and foods with nutritional components, flavorings and sweeteners is provided.

Answering Challenges: Flavorings to Nutritional Profiles
October 2011/Prepared Foods -- There are a number of product development challenges today, and most of them can be applied to beverage formulations. In his Prepared Foods’ 2010 R&D Applications Seminar-East presentation, “Overcome These 7 Product Development Challenges...Naturally,” Barry Horne, Vegetable Juices Inc., discussed obstacles to overcome and gave simple, natural solutions.

The challenges Horne discussed are: lowering sodium levels; adding more fruit and vegetable servings; having clean ingredient decks; replacing HFCS; adding natural, authentic flavor; reducing R&D budgets; and keeping up with evolving consumer demands.

With regard to sodium, Horne noted, “52% of consumers are monitoring their sodium intake on a regular basis;” this includes reading labels and the belief that “food and beverages low in sodium are one of the three most important components of a healthy diet.” Moreover, Horne says, food and beverage product introductions featuring reduced-sodium claims rose 115% from 2005-2008.

The result is more and more companies pledging to reduce sodium and/or successfully reducing sodium in their products. Some, such as Unilever’s 2009 initiative, set benchmarks toward achieving specific sodium-reductions—i.e., 6g by end of 2010 and 5g by end of 2015.

Spinach, parsnip and butternut squash juices can be used to reduce sodium in food, as these juices are naturally high in potassium, while naturally low in sodium; plus, they have the added advantage of adding vegetables (and vegetable servings) to a formulation. Since more than 50% of consumers reportedly know they need five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, yet most consumers do not eat this amount, formulations that include “a full serving of vegetables and/or fruits” claims can be winners for both consumers and companies. In the beverage arena, Campbell’s V-Fusion is said to contain a full serving of fruits and vegetables per 8oz, and Ocean Spray’s Vegetable/Fruit Juice blend has been aggressively marketed.

“Juice helps deliver great natural flavor, while at the same time delivering fruit and vegetable products per product serving, and Vegetable Juices’ cold-concentration process retains more nutrients and flavor,” Horne explained. He is referring to Vegetable Juices’ new line of juice concentrates, which are produced using a proprietary process that concentrates the products at 40°F, thus maximizing nutrient content, and eliminating undesirable color and flavor changes typically caused by thermal concentration processes.

Moreover, says Horne, vegetable juices and purees increase servings, while keeping carbs down, and micro-cut purees add texture and cloudiness to beverages, if desired.

The trend toward clean ingredient decks is another one to watch, according to Horne, and one where juice blends and purees can be of assistance. “There is a growing consumer preference for food products that are more ‘natural;’ feature ingredients that are easily understood and pronounced; are less processed; and contain fewer ‘mystery’ components—including additives, like artificial flavors and colors.”

Juices replace water and dehydrated powders, add micronutrients, and they can help lower salt and provide alternatives to MSG and disodium inosinate and guanylate. Because “the process starts with fresh produce and includes HTST [high-temperature short-time pasteurization process] in a closed system, our products deliver natural goodness of flavor and functionality,” says Horne.

Another “hot topic” has been replacing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Whether or not the negative press is true, the effects have been felt in the food business. For example, Starbucks reformulated its entire line of baked goods to remove HFCS; Pepsi introduced three new soft drinks—Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback—with no HFCS; and countless others.

Juice concentrates offer natural sweetening properties with limited visual and organoleptic impact. Sweet potato, carrot and cantaloupe juice concentrates are just three mentioned by Horne. 


“Overcome These 7 Product Development Challenges…Naturally,” Barry Horne, Vegetable Juices Inc., BHorne@vegetable,
--Summary by Barbara T. Nessinger, Associate Editor


Stevia and Formulation Tactics
Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni), is a product that has been grown and used in Asia and South America for many years. In 2009, some 80% of the stevia leaves were grown in China, and stevia represented 40% of the sweetener market in Japan. The ingredient is between 150-400 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose).

Stevia leaves contain 11 steviol glycosides, which are sugar molecules that are bonded to a non-sugar group, noted Greg Horn, senior director, sweetener technology, Wild Flavors, in his presentation, “Stevia Sweetening Technology: The Art and Science of Stevia Sweetening,” at Prepared Foods’ 2009 R&D Applications Seminar-Chicago. The primary steviol glycosides are stevioside and rebaudioside-A. These two molecules are 100-300 and 250-450 times sweeter than sucrose, respectively. The primary stevia extract is produced from dried leaves through a process that includes a water ethanol extraction; flocculation and filtration; absorption onto a resin; desorption from the resin using ethanol or methanol; decolorization; an ion exchange process; and concentration. The specific extracts are further purified into steviol glycosides.

Since stevia can be effectively used in a variety of applications without contributing calories, it is an attractive option in a world where obesity is an increasingly important issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated by 2015, there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults—out of which 700 million will be considered obese. Natural sweeteners are especially appealing to many users of low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. Almost half of those using these products would prefer a “natural” alternative, said Horn. WHO also estimates diabetes will continue to increase worldwide; stevia can potentially help diabetics, by reducing sugar intake and assisting in glucose metabolism.

There are regulatory issues and potential pitfalls in formulating with stevia. For example, users must pay careful attention to the terms used for the product, advised Horn. Stevia must contain 95% of the seven predominant stevia glycosides in any ratio to meet the established food-grade standards for the product. A product that meets this standard will meet the WHO’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) established standards. This also meets the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) guidelines. In addition, the 95% standard has already been accepted by Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. [Editor’s note: As of April, 2011, the European Commission and EU countries began discussions on whether to authorize stevia after a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion said it was safe for human consumption. Approval is expected by year’s end; France has already authorized stevia for use in foods.]

Stevia has intense sweetness; adds no calories to the product; and it is stable in many food processes, including baking and pH-dependent applications, added Horn. As an example, stevia was found to retain activity and stability, when stored at room temperature over a two-year period. In addition, beverages with both low and “high” pH (i.e., 3.2 and 6.5) suffered less than 1% loss of rebaudioside-A upon pasteurization. In low-pH beverage applications, rebaudioside-A has been shown to be more stable than stevioside.

The bottom line, however, is taste. Several sweetener characteristics should be considered. There tends to be a slower onset of sweetness, and some people may detect a slight bitterness. And, like all low-calories sweeteners, mouthfeel is different than what one would expect for sucrose-sweetened product. Product formulators can overcome these issues by utilizing different stevia products and modifying the product to incorporate different acids, bulking agents or sugars. The formula employed is, of course, product- and process-dependent, said Horn.

“Stevia Sweetening Technology: The Art and Science of Stevia Sweetening,” Greg Horn, senior director, sweetener technology, Wild Flavors,
-- Summary by Richard Stier, Contributing Editor


Drinking Omegas
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper growth and development; metabolic processes; structure in cell membranes; and for inflammation reduction. Omega-6s, on the other hand, come from sunflower oil, corn oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, wheat germ oil, evening primrose oil and walnuts. Omega-6 fatty acids are important for metabolic processes and structure in membranes.

However, more important in a healthy diet is the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Optimally, someone should consume a ratio of approximately 4-to-1 omega-6 to omega-3. Currently, the average diet is about 10-to-1 omega-6. Omega-3 and omega-6 compete for the same enzymes; when out of balance, the shift might be toward pathogenesis of many diseases.

As explained by Linda de Jong, food technologist at Omega Pure Inc., in an R&D Seminar presentation, “Drink To Your Health: Omega-3 in Beverages,” There are several main types of omega-3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a short-chain fatty acid derived from rapeseed (canola), soybeans and walnuts, among other plant sources. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are long-chain omega-3s derived from oily fish, microalgae and found in breast milk. Omega-3 fatty acids are of most importance to the young, old, pregnant and immunocompromised. Jong states, “ALA has been related to a lower rate of cardiovascular disease, and the human body can convert ALA to DHA and EPA, however, [generally] at a rate of less than 5%.”

EPA reduces inflammation; reduces triglycerides; is beneficial in mental function; improves response to chemotherapy; is necessary for normal metabolic processes; and prevents blood platelet aggregation. The mechanism of EPA is through eicosanoids, which are signaling molecules, derived from an enzymatic oxidation of C:20 essential fatty acids, Jong said. They control many metabolic systems, including inflammation and immunity. They also serve as a messenger in the central nervous system and counteract the pro-inflammatory effects of some omega-6 fatty acids. A low intake of omega-3 often results in more inflammatory-type diseases.

DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and has been reported in preventing cognitive decline, inhibiting human carcinoma cells in the colon, increasing efficacy of chemotherapy in prostate cancer cells and supporting healthy development of blood cells—very important in pregnancy. Algae contains mainly DHA, not EPA. Fish oil contains both EPA and DHA. ALA, as mentioned above, converts to EPA and DHA at less than 5%.

Jong stated menhaden fish oil is refined, bleached, deodorized and molecularly distilled to remove contaminants and concentrate EPA and DHA. Market trends in beverages with which omega-3 has applications are aimed to the health-conscious; they include nutritional beverages, meal replacers, protein shakes, weight-loss beverages and dairy beverages. Beverages are an effective delivery system for omega-3s and can also be for prebiotics, probiotics, proteins, vitamins and minerals. (See chart “Nutritional Drink Facts.”)

Menhaden oil in orange juice was added directly before homogenizing and provided 32mg EPA/DHA per 237ml (1 cup). The oil was also incorporated into protein-fortified milk before homogenization, resulting in 32mg EPA/DHA per 237ml.

Menhaden oil also works well in yogurt drinks, by adding to the yogurt base before pasteurization (100mg EPA/DHA per 240g), and to smoothies (50mg per 240g). Omega-3s in beverages offer a big opportunity for convenient, nutritional products targeted to Baby Boomers and the health-conscious.

“Drink To Your Health: Omega-3 in Beverages,” Linda de Jong, Omega Pure Inc.; for more information, contact Ernesto Hernandez, ehernandez@omega,
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor


Protein Hydrolysates in Sports Products
The sports nutrition market is a multibillion dollar market in the U.S. and around the world, with significant continued growth expected. Various target groups exist within the sports nutrition market, such as body builders and elite athletes; people that are sports-active, but not world-class; people that regularly participate in triathlons; or simply those who occasionally purchase sports products.

The trendsetters are elite athletes, who are most often males between the ages of 16-39, said the marketing manager-Americas, for FrieslandCampina, during the presentation, “The Changing Sports Nutrition Market: A Role for Protein Hydrolysates,” at Prepared Foods’ 2010 R&D Applications Seminar-East.

As one moves from the elite athletes to the occasional user, the types of products and the reasons for purchasing them change. The elite want to build muscle mass and increase endurance, whereas the users at the low end of the scale look for products that can enhance protein intake or be used as meal replacements. The higher the metabolic demand of the competitor, the greater the emphasis on proper nutrition. Consumers that fall into the body builder and elite athlete segment typically spend $80 or more per month on sports foods and beverages.

There are several driving factors in the sports nutrition market, and protein is integral to each. Athletes look for products that will improve endurance (aerobic capacity); improve resistance (anaerobic capacity); and speed up recovery from heavy exertion, which would include replacing the glycogen pool, rehydrating and replenishing electrolytes, and repairing muscle. Other desired outcomes include building muscle and/or reshaping one’s body, as well as ensuring the athlete is protected from infections (physical stress may make one more prone to some infections).

Protein hydrolysates are one class of ingredients available to formulators of sports products. These are produced by fragmenting proteins into its component amino acids, peptides and/or short protein chains. Protein hydrolysates are more easily digested, with users showing a faster increase in plasma amino acids, as compared to when intact proteins are consumed.  

Hydrolysates can be used in any of the major categories of sports nutrition products. These include, but are not limited to, sports and energy drinks; nutrition or energy bars; and supplements and pills. Drinks are used as a means to rapidly replenish nutrients and provide energy. Nutrition or energy bars can be formulated in many ways. Some provide a quick energy boost, and others contain concentrated nutrients to help build and/or maintain muscle mass. Some 24% of consumers report they use a sports nutrition product, and some 10% of consumers indicate they use products containing protein, according to the NMI Health & Wellness Trends Database, 2009.

 There are many different protein hydrolysates that can be used in sports nutrition products. These include hydrolyzed whey protein, calcium caseinate, glutamine peptide, instant whey protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, casein hydrolysate and lactoferrin. Common and beneficial characteristics of these products include high protein content and availability, and easy digestibility. The range of protein hydrolysate products available to the product development scientists allows potential users to select the products that best meet their needs. Formulators must take care to not only meet nutritional needs of the target audience; the product must also taste


“The Changing Sports Nutrition Market: A Role for Protein Hydrolysates,” FrieslandCampina, www.friesland
--Summary by Richard Stier,
Contributing Editor