Concepts in clean label: A wealth of applications development

Rich chocolate birthday cake

The global market for clean label products has truly kicked into gear with reformulation taking place across the board. The growing demand is being driven by rising customer awareness in naturally functional food ingredients, which means clean label, no or fewer additives, and better-for-you products. At the same time, free from, nutritional, sustainable and value-added ingredients are growing in popularity, with new opportunities opening up for naturally derived colors, and renewably harvested plant-sourced vanillin flavors.

But clean label reformulation requires careful consideration. This is why applications work at distribution partners such as Brenntag Food & Nutrition (F&N) is so valuable. Their team aims to showcase the work of their suppliers in trending product categories with innovative and intriguing concepts that include reduced or no sugar and gluten-free baked goods.

Rich chocolate birthday cake

A red velvet pancake

For example, Brenntag F&N’s application team in North America has developed a pancake mix that offers all the great taste and fluffy texture you can expect from pancakes, while delivering an added protein and fiber punch. The concept allows product developers to transform their pancake breakfast into a nutritionally enhanced and filling breakfast meal, while delivering that characteristic red velvet shade, without the use of synthetic colors.

“The pancake mix is all about meeting the growing trend for increasing protein intake, which has truly gone mainstream, in a clean label way. The naturally derived color (beet juice powder) is a red velvet to highlight the role for red color in bakery. We used vanillin in that one as the flavoring to round off the taste of the pancake,” says Marly Sumayong, Senior Food Application Scientist at Brenntag F&N North America.

Naturally coloured rusk

Another great concept is Rainbow Rusk, a twice-baked bread that incorporates vegetable and/or fruit powders derived from vegetable byproducts. These tasty and versatile rusks pair well with soups, cheese, or jam, as a snack or appetizer. “We use apple powder, carrot powder and spinach powder, which are byproducts from the juice manufacturing process. We make it into a rusk whereby people can enjoy it with jam, salad or croutons. That’s how we utilize our ingredients to go with the mega trend around sustainability,” Marly notes.

Petit déjeuner : Biscotte beurre confiture  Café
Studio photo of homemade sugar cookies with color sprinkles. Selective focus on top of broken cookie in center.

Concepts with naturally derived vanillin

Last but not least, Brenntag's F&N North America team has developed a recognizable caramel style brown sugar butter sauce using Borregaard's vanillin made from natural (wood) ingredients. The flavor used is EuroVanillin Gran a WONF (with other natural flavor) product with a profile resemblance to vanilla extract, at a much lower cost. A multitude of grades is available, where each has a slightly different profile, and works well in diverse applications e.g. bakery, confectionery, dairy, and beverages. It provides consistency in taste, performance and cost, due to the fluctuation in available vanilla.

“The vanillin bean and extract market has historically been very volatile when it comes to price, and availability. Also, to provide consistency in formulations as extract market is not always standardized,” says Marly. “Following an ever-broadening demand for cleaner ingredients there will be increased demand for a renewably sourced plant-based vanillin to replace petroleum-based synthetic vanilla flavors,” she adds.

Wealth of opportunities for clean label new product development

As the solutions portfolio expands, the Brenntag FN applications team in North America will be able to try out a whole host of new solutions. A new feather in the portfolio cap is Chr. Hansen’s new vegetable variety – the Hansen Sweet Potato™ Ipomoea batatas. This uses traditional breeding methods to create a long-sought after vibrant, naturally derived red alternative to carmine. The potato serves as the basis for Chr. Hansen’s recently launched FruitMax® line extension of bright red solutions that solve some of the biggest challenges of previously available natural red colors. This color is suitable in beverages, bakery and fillings where heat stability is required. The ingredient can be simply labeled as “vegetable juice (color).”

“Hansen Sweet Potato™” is stable at a relatively higher pH compared to other anthocyanins,” notes Marly. “This is very important as getting a stable red color is always a challenge in bakery applications, where the pH is around 5-7. Most anthocyanin-based red colors turn blue or purple in that pH range. Chr. Hansen has overcome this issue by creating a red color that stays redder at a higher pH than other anthocyanins,” she explains. When working with synthetic colors you can use one color in many different applications, but when it comes to natural colors you have to be application specific. “That’s why it’s great that the color availability from Chr. Hansen is so vast. There are specific color types and sources, depending on the application, including blue,” she notes. For example, spirulina extract can serve as a great product for brilliant blues and green hues, in certain applications where regulation permits.

Strong ingredient innovation and thorough application work is opening up a whole new wealth of opportunities for clean label new product development and reformulation.

Strawberry marmalade