by Gretchen Schisla
At the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual summer meeting, people from all over the world converge to learn about the latest innovations in food ingredients. The 23,000 attendees include a vast group of food scientists, ingredient sales people (with food science knowledge), graduate students, technical food writers, consultants, international companies, importers, exporters and distributors — all speaking the same language. Companies are present in full force to showcase their expertise, promote their latest product developments and connect with key customers.
While attending, Kory and I always search for stand-out examples of businesses that are embracing products and education centered around healthy food. This is what impressed us as we walked the enormous space in McCormick Place.
Focus on Flavor Infusion
From teas to smoothies, beverages remain BIG. This grab-n-go convenience market keeps expanding, adding impressive products and companies. Amelia Bay offered “Clean Label, Pure Taste,” with brewed, liquid tea extracts made using an all-natural process. We enjoyed a refreshing sample. Food for Health International (FFH) recently launched Powder Pure — 50 premium whole-food powders with “unprecedented nutritional quality.” The carrot juice variety was our favorite! Other nutritional products that caught our eye were the Vivid Harvest Whole Food Powders from P.L. Thomas.
It’s Not Greek to Me
Mintel’s Taste & Trend section described Greek yogurt as “the modern day Hercules of the dairy aisle.” I discovered this fluffy stuff years ago while in Greece. Its appeal is largely due to its healthy image and creamy, indulgent texture. From 2011–2012, Greek yogurt products increased 170%. In the next 3 years, the dairy category is expected to grow more than any other. Since straining removes much of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, Greek yogurt offers double the protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt.
Microsite with a Focus on Health and Wellness
Univar Food Ingredients introduced an online formulation tool which Enrich designed. Our strategy for the tool centered on the development of a website that would provide Univar’s suppliers the opportunity to showcase products and innovations linked to current trends. Health & Wellness is the most robust section of the site — featuring products related to sodium reduction, sugar reduction, gluten-free, and labeling trends like ‘natural,’ ‘organic’ and ‘non-GMO.’ Univar extended this healthy focus to their booth by offering fortified almond milk and gluten-free cookies.
Unveiling a New Brand Focused on Great Taste
Using the slogan “Expertise that Inspires,” ICL helps their customers create new products that taste great, while also addressing current sodium and sugar reduction trends. At their press breakfast, I sampled a delicious breakfast burrito that would not have been flavorful without certain ingredients to help it taste that way. Let’s face it; we consumers want food that pleases our palate and that’s still good for us.
The Consumer Still Wants Taste
In an article for NewHope360.com author Todd Runestad summed up IFT by saying, "In the last 3 or 4 years there’s been a distinct shift on the IFT show floor. You can go down many aisles and it will look exactly like any other nutritional ingredient supply show floor in the business. But about 25 percent—and growing—is natural and nutritional." We hope to see that number increase over the next few years, as consumers gradually become more concerned about what’s in their food and how it affects their health. Hopefully, companies can meet that demand by creating healthy food that tastes great.