Mainstream food: the good, the bad, the ugly

Product development cycles in the food world typically last about 18 to 20 months from ideation to store shelves. So it’s taking a while to see the signs of an underlying change: the mainstream food world is shifting its focus away from cheap carbohydrates and toward nutrition.

Watch The Editor’s RoundTable, available this Wednesday morning at http://www.functionalingredientsmag.com. New Hope Natural Media’s editors will discuss the changing mainstream food world in a quick and lively discussion. A preview:

More of the good: Fiber became a food world and consumer cause célèbre after the USDA’s revised 2005 Food Guidelines recommended higher intake levels. (Not to mention the MyPyramid – will its existence continue when the new guidelines are released later this year?) Water-soluble fiber from the likes of ADM’s Fibersol-2 make fiber easily integrated into beverages. Fiber sources with a bonus gut-health kick of prebiotics from the likes of Beneo’s Orafti brand inulin also complement probiotics. Patented processing technology from Z Trim makes fiber easily dispersible, stable across wide pH and temperature ranges, and hence suitable across a range of product applications. North Americans get only about half of their daily recommended intake, which is 14 grams per 1,000 calories of food – roughly 30 grams per day.

Less of the bad: The National Salt Reduction Initiative has set a five-year deadline to cut sodium consumption by 20 percent for Americans (who current swallow about double recommendations – baby steps). As some 70 percent of sodium comes from processed foods, you-know-who is in the crosshairs. Suppliers are stepping up and working with the Krafts of the world on solutions that maintain salt’s manifest functional attributes – texture, taste, mouthfeel – while helping the larger battle against high blood pressure. For its effort, Kraft is planning on reducing sodium by 10 percent in its food products in a two-year time frame, and seems poised to meet it.

The ugly get prettier: Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) began with the sell that they could feed the world with better nutrition. Trouble was, the reality had nothing to do with either, and was merely a way of helping primarily biotech seed companies and, arguably, farmers. That is beginning to finally change as companies roll out bio-engineered crops that actually do improve nutritional profiles. Arcadia Biosciences has introduced a GMO safflower oil rich in gamma linolenic acid, which is an omega-6 oil that acts like a healthier omega-3. DuPont has recently launched a GMO omega-3 EPA-rich oil. Other healthier soy oils are also coming out onto the market.

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