Retail food and drink trends

The ingredients puzzle – a picture of many pieces

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By: Tayab Haq, Business Development Manager, Brenntag Food & Nutrition

In the world of ingredients, there are so many demands from food manufacturers and consumers, that a hierarchy of choice is needed to determine selection. For some, taste and functionality are paramount whilst, for others, cost-in-use will always be the main consideration when looking at a plethora of options.

In the current age, many food & drink manufacturers would like their products to be considered “clean label” without compromising functionality, durability or shelf life. In regard to manufacturers who want the best of both worlds (clean label and functionality), there is now an increasing acceptance that to achieve this- in other words to get the additional benefits of more shelf life and “clean label”,-  they may have to accept the trade-off against additional on-cost, some of which may end up getting passed to the end consumer. As a result, cost-in-use moves lower down the hierarchy of choice, to be overtaken by functionality or shelf life, as these are seen to yield benefits like lower production costs or greater processing tolerance.

Sustainability is working its way into our subconscious. Increasingly we are thinking more and more about our food & drink buying habits; what countries the key ingredients come from, what certification systems give support to farmers, right down to the packaging alternatives to plastic. Sustainability in how ingredients are manufactured is also important, especially as resources (land and water) are harder to manage in certain parts of the world for growing crops and raising cattle as well as maintaining a reasonable carbon footprint.

Hence, advances in food technology can offer solutions such as ingredients derived from processing by-products (Aquafaba from chickpeas), increasing use of insects as a protein source, lab grown meat to fulfil the worldwide growing demand for protein and even creating protein sources using air, water, hydrogen, soil bacteria and electricity. If sustainability can be better integrated into the production of food ingredients, this will help to improve the overall sustainability of the products we buy in store or online.

For more information:

You can listen to Tayab Haq of Brenntag Food & Nutrition UK participate in a recent panel discussion about the use of innovative ingredients to meet changing consumer tastes and demands. During the discussion, Tayab offers insight on the importance of innovation to retailer customers he has dealt with during his 18 years working in the food manufacturing sector. He identifies gaps where there is a need for ingredients that can survive robust processing conditions; such as heat stable natural red colours for UHT processing in flavoured milks.

Tayab also challenges the use of subjective terms like “processed” and “store cupboard” ingredients, arguing the point that additives can play a crucial role, directly impacting the cost and availability of the food we buy. Looking forward, Tayab predicts that ingredients made from by-products/waste streams of processing will become more influential as those ingredients will be inherently viewed as having less environmental impact/more sustainable. In addition, the challenge to grow ingredients indoors via hydroponics will be more important as climate change and more frequent flooding impacts arable farming.

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