“Integral to Formulation”: Suppliers Crown Health as Key Driver in Fats and Oils Arena

Close up of fresh oil palm fruits with cooking oil, selective focus.

26 Jul 2021 — The plant-based space is boosted by new innovations in vegetable fats and oils designed to optimize mouthfeel for meat and dairy substitutes. While overall perspectives on these ingredients have improved, consumers still maintain a close eye on the health credentials of this category.

To discuss the latest relevant product launches and market dynamics, FoodIngredientsFirst speaks with edible oil suppliers Cargill, ADM, and Avena Nordic Grain.

“We’ve identified ‘Healthy for Me’ as a key influence in the fats and oils space, as consumers embrace a more proactive, personal and holistic approach to health,” says David VandenEinde, global R&D leader of global edible oil solutions at Cargill. 

Increasing health with oils

Cargill’s proprietary FATitudes research, conducted since 2013 in the US, consistently finds that more than half of consumers closely monitor fats and oils in packaged foods.

VandenEinde further notes that seven in ten global consumers wish they had healthier options within indulgent food or beverage categories.

Plant-based innovation can benefit from the texturizing qualities of fats and oils. In indulgent categories such as ice cream, fat ingredient EPG is helping brands like Nick’s ice cream create a full-fat experience with a modified rapeseed oil that “dramatically” reduces calories.

Ice cream NPD demonstrates a disparity in consumer perception on fat, with lines like SweetPea touting “half the fat,” while Mammoth Creameries positions its products as full-fat and keto-friendly. 

“Consumers seek balance and are empowered to make their own determination of what is and is not healthy for them,” highlights VandenEinde.

Plant-forward innovation

Suppliers such as ADM also note the vast opportunities in the plant-based space, which is also marked by consumer interest in health. 

Innova’s 2020 Consumer Survey indicated that the top reason for considering plant-based alternatives was health benefits cited by 53 percent of respondents globally.

Fats and oils contain essential nutrients. They are also a functional and necessary ingredient category that continues to innovate to address evolving trends such as flexitarianism, says Michelle Peitz, technical solutions and marketing at ADM oilseeds. 

ADM notes that 56 percent of global plant consumers – defined as flexitarians, vegetarians or vegans – are trying to eat more plant-based foods and beverages. 

The rise of flexitarian diets may mean consumers are pickier about meat and dairy analogs replicating the taste and mouthfeel of real meat. The replication of animal-based fats with plant-based sources is a significant formulation challenge.

Upping the formulation game

ADM is addressing the plant-based texture challenge with custom-blended oils. These can extend shelf life, increase functionality in specific melting characteristics, improve taste and texture, and importantly, enhance nutritional profiles. 

“Vegetable fats and oils are integral to formulating textural and flavor aspects that help plant-forward foods mimic the traditional eating experience of animal-based products.” 

Click to EnlargeRapeseed oil is in demand as manufacturers seek to replace other fats and oils, notes Avena Nordic Grain.  Solid vegetable fat-based systems for meat alternatives, for example, target melt profiles to improve functionality at storage, cooking and eating temperatures. 

These attributes can be achieved either by interesterification of, for example, soybean oils, palm oils or lauric fats or by producing blends of different oils, details Peitz. 

Replication of  milk products

In dairy alternatives, incorporating oils, such as sunflower, soybean, coconut, palm or rapeseed, helps create the desired appearance and mouthfeel, outlines ADM’s Peitz. 

Processing can also play a key role. For example, Dutch start-up The Time-Travelling Milkman is targeting the alternative dairy category with minimal processing technology. The Netherlands-based spinoff of Wageningen University and Research is able to extract fat droplets from sunflower seeds, for creamier textures to replicate milk fat.  

Meanwhile, US-based Seraphina Therapeutics is promoting its trace odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid (C15:0) called FA15 for use in dairy and meat alternatives. The recently discovered fatty acid received Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US this June. 

Tapping into plant-based texture 
Byproducts of the oil processing sector are also proving to be valuable sources for textured vegetable proteins (TVPs) with minimal, sustainable ingredients containing nutritional value.  

Finnish grains and oil seeds supplier Avena Nordic Grain, part of Apetit Group, has developed a TVP from upcycled rapeseed cakes, a byproduct of oil processing. 

The innovation, called BlackGrain from Yellow Fields, mimics the texture of meat patties and was authorized for sale in the EU as a novel food in December. 

“Previously, the whole seed was utilized partly as feed. Now the whole seed can be utilized as food ingredients,” says Jenny Tallberg, business development manager at Avena Nordic Grain Oy. 

BlackGrain from Yellow Fields also boasts fiber, protein, good fats and a balanced composition of amino acids. 

Click to EnlargeCargill recently invested US$200 million in a fully integrated palm oil refinery in Indonesia. Sustaining fats and oilsTallberg has observed an uptick in rapeseed oil as food manufacturers look to replace other fats and oils. “This places some innovative pressure on us as an oil pressing mill,” she says. 

“In the Nordic part of Europe, the harvest yield is lower per land area compared to southern European countries. And in some countries, the increase of extreme weather conditions is affecting the cultivation.”

Upcycling rapeseed products can help positively affect the calculated carbon footprint per harvest.

Moreover, companies are investing in sustainably sourced palm oil to meet the demand for an ethical, high-performance ingredient. 

Responding to the call for environmentally friendly palm oil, Cargill recently invested US$200 million in a fully integrated palm oil refinery in Indonesia. The product will be targeted toward customers in North America and Europe looking for enhanced traceability to the source. 

Ingredients to watch 

As the plant-based revolution continues, fats and oils from non-animal sources show no sign of slowing down. 

“Brands are leaning into oils made from recognizable nuts and seeds like flaxseed, peanuts and sunflower seeds, as they’re simple ingredients and align with consumers’ perceptions of plant-based and clean labels,” says Peitz.

However, cell-based fats from real animal cells may also play a role in upcoming plant-forward innovations. 

MeaTech 3D announced in May it would harness cultured fat to produce hybrid products with cultured chicken fat in plant-based protein products by 2022.

By Missy Green

Original Link: https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/integral-to-formulation-suppliers-crown-health-as-key-driver-in-fats-and-oils-arena.html