Ingredient selection to meet nutritional targets

Emma Hanby, Product Innovation Section Manager

Product formulation and ingredient selection are essential to ensure that the food and beverage industry meets its compositional and nutritional targets. We are working on a member funded project to develop a system to help improve the product reformulation process. It brings together competitive and pre-competitive drivers, labelling options, known consumer responses to labelling, and UK and European legislation.

Emma Hanby (Product Innovation Manager) explains how the project will help manufacturers address the current industrial issues.

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There are several public health targets that food retailers and manufacturers should be considering when reformulating foods for health. The drivers that we see out there are reductions in saturated fat, fat, sugar and salt as well as an increase in fibre. In addition to that consumers are looking for dietary specific requirements such as gluten-free and lactose-free. In addition to lifestyle choices, such as vegetarianism and vegan, there's never been so many reasons to develop or reformulate healthier products and there's many things to consider. There's a minefield of information, be it legislation, regulatory or guidance from the UK and beyond, and all of these should be considered when looking to develop or reformulate a new product.

There's a number of challenges that product development teams face when developing healthier products. Unfortunately, there's no simple solutions. If we take one ingredient sugar, for example, it doesn't just provide sweetness in a food and drink product it provides many other technical functions in a variety of products, whether it be bulk, mouthfeel, structure or preservative actions. So, when food development teams are looking at reformulating products or developing products they should consider the ingredient as a whole , not just its flavour delivery but all of the other technical functions that exist within that product.

Over recent years we've worked hard at providing practical solutions and approaches to reducing fat, sugar and salt in a variety of food and drink products. More recently we've started work on looking at emerging ingredients - ingredients that may be used in the future as alternatives to ingredients such as fat, sugar and salt. We also have a project, ongoing, looking at bringing together all the information out there –legislation, regulatory guidance to support product development teams when undertaking product development or reformulation as a way of speeding up this cycle.

There's many challenges that we see from industry and as a product development team at Camden BRI we have seen a vast increase in the amount of work in beverages. With the introduction of the sugar tax next year we have seen a huge increase in the amount of companies coming to us looking for our support in reformulating their beverages with respect to reducing sugar. We're really well placed to do this given the kit we have in our large pilot plant and the experience gained from previous projects in sugar reduction and the use of sweeteners in this area.

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