The annual Institute of Food Technologists show is a great place to discover what's coming down the CPG pike. Here are five ingredient trends found on the show floor and in education halls at the 2011 IFT show in New Orleans, June 11 to 14, that could impact product development and sales in the natural products space.
- Alternative sweeteners were a hot ingredient at the show as manufacturers look increasingly for options to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Lo han kuo, a botanical native to China that is 300 times sweeter than sugar, is developing a buzz as an alternative to stevia.
- Sodium reduction was ubiquitous at the show. Although many ingredient suppliers here are turning to monosodium glutamate and other dubious flavor enhancers to replace salt, natural solutions were present as well. Many companies are looking to fermentation for solutions. An example is PuraQ Verdad, a cultured non-GM corn sugar fermented that in reduces sodium in hot dogs by 20 percent and ranch dressing by 30 percent.
- Novel applications for cocoa are always hitting the ingredient market. Mars Botanical, a division of Mars Inc., is using the cocoa fruit as just that: fruit. When used as chocolate, the cocoa plant is fermented. But for its Cirku product, the cocoa is harvested and processed like a fruit, so it looks and tastes like fruit, not chocolate. Plus it retains its high level of anthocyanins which give cocoa its red color. The company's Cirku product uses unfermented cocoa fruit in a powdered dietary supplement beverage packaged in ready-to-use stick packs.
- The 2010 World Cup held in South Africa brought African flavors to the consumer forefront and as a result is getting the attention of flavor ingredient companies. Retailers should keep their eyes out for finished products featuring piri piri (or bird's eye chili) chakalaka, an African relish, and the marula fruit.
- The next hot superfruit could be coming from Canada. The North Saskatoon berry, also known as the June berry, sugar pear and Indian pear, is rich in antioxidants and beats some superfruits in its levels of phenolics and anthocyanins. The small purple berry resembles blueberries but has its own unique flavor. Look for it in juices and powder products.