With consumers seeking greater health benefits from even the most indulgent foods, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients (CIFI) has created a menu of healthy and clean label application prototypes, which it debuted in its first-ever exhibit at the Chicago IFT show.

CIFI’s menu and participation at IFT highlighted its unique line of sweet potato ingredients, which provide nutritional and clean label benefits including replacing high fructose corn syrup.

“As we prepare for the grand opening of our new processing plant in September, we thought the time was right to share the clean label potential of high-quality, domestically sourced sweet potato ingredients with the industry,” says Nathan Holleman, CIFI’s vice president of marketing and sales.

CIFI staff offered a menu of healthy and clean label samples at IFT15, including a 100% fruit and vegetable juice blend; a nutrition bar featuring a unique dehydrated sweet potato crumble; marinated sliders and condiments, including a ketchup formulated with sweet potato juice concentrate to remove sugar and high fructose corn syrup; and Eli’s Cheesecake topped with a vegan caramel sauce.

“Preliminary testing has shown that our sweet potato ingredients can provide outstanding clean label and sensory properties,” Holleman says. “Our product development team has been very successful in creating applications that have sensory appeal as well as compelling nutritional profiles. We have found that our sweet potato ingredients do a great job solving clean label issues by substituting for artificial sweeteners and other unpopular ingredients.”

CIFI proposes to educate the food industry about the formulation potential of sweet potato ingredients as the company prepares for the imminent launch of its new plant in September.

“In our conversations with the industry, we’ve sensed tremendous excitement about the potential of high-quality, domestically produced sweet potato ingredients,” says John Kimber, CIFI chief operating officer. “With the opening of our new plant, we will be poised to provide the industry with the domestic partner it needs to employ the healthy, on-trend sweet potato in a functional manner.”

The new plant, located in Nashville, N.C., will produce sweet potato juice in both concentrated and single-strength forms, as well as dehydrated sweet potato granules and flour, all sourced from the abundant sweet potato farms of eastern North Carolina, America’s leading region for sweet potato production.

“As we observed the thriving North Carolina sweet potato industry, we felt there was more we could be doing to make the product available for food processors,” Kimber says. “Our ingredients will make it possible for food brands to add the health and trend appeal of sweet potatoes to a wider range of applications.”

CIFI’s highly accomplished food safety and product development teams will make it possible for the company to begin shipping product shortly after the new plant begins operations. With its convenient location on the eastern seaboard, CIFI will offer food brands a reliable, efficient supply of ingredients in support of just-in-time inventory. In addition, the company’s domestic sourcing means that all products are traceable to the farm, supporting stronger transparency stories.

“We’re excited to bring the health and marketing potential of sweet potatoes to a wider audience,” adds Holleman. “With consumers seeking alternative sweeteners and health and wellness claims like allergen-free, GMO-free, and high in vitamins and minerals, we believe sweet potato ingredients have a lot to offer to today’s healthier, more transparent food industry.”

— Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, www.CIFIngredients.com