For several years now, “clean” labels have been a trending topic in the food ingredient and foodservice markets. Now coming to the fore is the concept that consumers are demanding “clear” labels as well. They want to understand the ingredients and why these ingredients are used in their foods.
Among those experts studying industry ingredient shifts and consumer demands have been Roger Daniels, vice president, Research and Development and Innovation for Stratas Foods, and Chef Vincent Barcelona, director of culinary and corporate chef at Stratas Foods and THE KITCHEN.
“For the last 10 years, Stratas Foods has tracked an evolution in customer and consumer needs,” says Daniels. “We’ve always known consumers demand taste, quality and performance but we’ve added an additional attribute—nutrition.”
Stratas Foods’ approach to the market is to develop and commercialize products at the right time to meet customers’ anticipated needs and determine the difference between a passing fad and a stick-around trend that needs to be addressed.
“When we see enough movement in the industry, we work to determine if the movement is a viable trend or a passing fad,” adds Chef Barcelona. “When we have a trend, I work with my clients to determine what their needs are and how Stratas can help meet those demands.”
This is where the ideation comes in. Barcelona and his creative team create an idea based on customer input. Then Daniels and his team of food scientists develop the product to meet the customer need.
Developing a new product with new ingredients—but maintained functionality—is no easy task. There are many things to consider. Is a particular ingredient performing as it should? Will it maintain its taste, flavor, texture and appearance with an altered ingredient?
Stratas Foods has earned industry praise for creating clean and clear labels for its clients—all while still maintaining product functionality. Barcelona says that allowing clients to work with products in development, offer feedback and test run the final product is what makes THE KITCHEN and RDI partnership work so well.
For example, in a post-PHO world, Stratas worked to develop a non-PHO soybean shortening oil with a substantial reduction in saturated fats and no hydrogenated fats on the label. The company’s research and development efforts led to Stratas Foods’ new Superb Select 1020.
“The new focus is on reducing saturated fats in a clean, clear way. Stratas Foods got ahead of customer demand in creating Superb Select 1020 Shortening,” says Daniels. “Now that we’ve solved the non-PHO baking issue, market demands for a shortening without hydrogenated fat on the label have increased. Products with lower saturated fats are the next big thing.”
As part of its commercial validation, Stratas has been introducing Superb Select 1020 Shortening to customers for use, where it has been met with enthusiastic review. In some bread applications—such as dinner rolls—the product shortening even improved performance and extended roll tenderness by several days.
“Ultimately, the end user needs to know that Stratas is cautious about what people are asking for,” notes Barcelona. “We are creating a dinner experience while trying to meet consumer and customer demand.”
“We are only satisfied if we exceed our customers’ needs for service and quality,” adds Daniels. “Collaboration is at the cornerstone of Stratas Foods’ interaction with our customers and industry partners.”
About Stratas Foods
Stratas Foods LLC is the leading supplier of fats and oils to North America’s foodservice, food ingredients and retail private label markets. Stratas Foods was formed in October 2008 as a 50/50 joint venture between ACH Food Companies (ACH) and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).
Visit www.stratasfoods.com for details.