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Freeze Frame! Challenges in Frozen Foods

I don’t know how our family would function without frozen foods. We pull out frozen food products regularly to help make dinner, breakfast or after school snacks. I know our family is not alone in this. In its Patent Perspectives: Frozen Food report, published February 2017, Mintel discusses recent innovations in freezing technologies that aim to deliver frozen foods with improved nutritional value. Consumers like the convenience of frozen foods, however Mintel research says that people also are concerned about nutritional value.

In a survey of U.S. consumers conducted in 2016, 85 percent agreed that frozen snacks are easy to prepare. However, they also are concerned about the nutritional quality of frozen foods, with 40 percent of consumers stating they think frozen snacks are too high in calories. A separate survey showed that 29 percent of frozen breakfast food consumers agree they would eat more frozen breakfast foods if they were less processed.

According to the report analysts, manufacturers “need to improve consumers’ perception about the nutritional properties of frozen foods. Frozen food manufacturers must continue to innovate or risk losing consumers to other sections of the store.”

In addition to new freezing technologies, manufacturers can select ingredients that will promote the taste, texture and appearance of frozen foods while at the same time contributing positively to a nutritional profile.

Frozen foods present multiple challenges to formulators. The ingredients must not only maintain their integrity during the freezing process but also contribute to final product taste, texture and appearance during preparation, which often means microwave heating.

Egg ingredients work well within a frozen environment and maintain integrity during microwave preparation, offering 20-plus beneficial functional properties while appearing simply as “eggs” on the label. This helps speak to the consumer desire for less processed foods. In addition, one large egg contains six grams of high-quality protein, contributing to a nutritious breakfast or snack food. Mixed with a variety of vegetables, paired with any number or flavor of cheeses, perched atop a whole grain roll or baked good, eggs can help create successful frozen food products.

2017-04-24 08:55:05
 

News From AEB For IFT

The good news about eggs is that the good news about eggs keeps pouring in. Recent studies confirm the presence of eggs in formulation helps create gold standard products. And it is easier than ever to take advantage of the benefits of egg ingredients since eggs and egg products are available in abundant supply.

Attendees at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting and Expo can read new information that confirms the importance of using real eggs in formulation for their flavor, functionality and versatility at our booth #1758 in Las Vegas, June 25-28.

Last year at IFT we presented a newly published collection of reports comparing the functional and organoleptic performance of egg ingredients to blends or ingredients commonly recommended as egg replacers. That first set of reports focused on yellow batter cake, Crème Cake Blueberry muffins, cookies, brownies, sponge cake and more. Gold standard results were achieved using egg ingredients in these baking applications.

That research continues and this year, and independent third party conducted tests that compared and contrasted the performance of eggs vs. replacements in a variety of new formats. These included nougat, angel food cake, frozen custard, frozen waffles, mayonnaise and pasta. All of the research results will be available at our booth. In addition, all reports and research results are housed on a single website, RealEggs.org, for further information.

In terms of flavor and taste, booth attendees will have the opportunity to try delicious samples that showcase the flavor, texture, mouthfeel and appearance egg ingredients can lend to finished products.  On various days, we will be serving Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Flourless Chocolate Cake and Sponge Cake Mousse Trio. Dr. Shelly McKee, Ph.D., special advisor to the American Egg Board will be on hand to help answer your questions about egg ingredient usage. Stop by booth #1758 for all the latest incredible news about REAL eggs.  

2017-04-10 08:49:40
 

Pizza. Pizza. And…more pizza.

You’ve guessed it, the global leader for new product introductions is pizza, according to a recent Mintel category insights report. Pizza introductions dominate the new product database, representing two-thirds of launches.

Yet food manufacturers fail to take advantage of an expansive white space—the report states that only a small portion of pizzas and pies are portable and therefore suitable for the active lifestyles consumers lead. There is strong consumer interest for handheld, portable and convenient takes on the pizza format, according to Mintel.  And in the North American market, consumers are willing to pay more for gourmet ingredients and premium products, so “Let the games begin.”

One format that seems particularly suited as a portable, handheld option is the empanada, which can be viewed as pizza turned inside out. Filling options are endless and the empanada platform could be adapted for breakfast, lunch or dinnertime creations.

Eggs and egg ingredients supply functional and flavorful benefits to the dough and the filling, depending on the application. For a breakfast empanada for example, eggs in the filling supply a great source of affordable, high-quality protein. Eggs help supply bulk in a filling and their protein content is “completely on trend,” according to Emily Munday, Culinologist/Nutrition at CuliNex, Seattle.

“In no way is the empanada market saturated,” she said, “and they appeal to everyone as a handheld comfort food. Definitely within the Latin population, which is growing, empanadas represent a childhood favorite that they ate while growing up. And the empanada is a great vehicle for lots of flavor combinations.”

Munday said eggs contribute to the flavor, color, texture and structure of the dough for an empanada. “You can definitely tell the difference when the egg is taken out.” Eggs contribute to the overall eating experience through proper dough mouthfeel and texture, she said. An egg wash helps add color and shine to the outside as well as helping seal the edges to make sure the filling doesn’t escape or leak from the finished product.

As eggs are neutral in flavor they “play well with lots of different flavors and actually help carry other flavors as a fat-soluble flavor compound,” said Munday. “Eggs help enhance the eating experience.”

Considering the fact a convenience item like an empanada often is destined for microwave preparation, Munday recommends whole eggs for the filling and dough. “Eggs cook quickly and aren’t very dense,” she said, “so it doesn’t take long for them to heat up, an important factor in a harsh cooking environment the microwave presents.”

Whole eggs tend to do better in microwave do to their fat component. Munday says that different proteins cook at different rates in a microwave and the fat helps prevent the proteins from overcooking. “For that reason scrambled eggs or whole eggs work a bit better than egg white, not that it couldn’t be done,” said Munday. Pre-cooked egg patties, scrambles and other products from egg suppliers make it even easier to incorporate eggs in a handheld option like an empanada or other breakfast sandwich.

While an empanada would serve as a blank slate for any daypart, Munday emphasized the role they could play for breakfast. “In general food manufacturers like to play it safe and especially in the freezer section, the breakfast selection is rather lackluster. Experiment with herbs, sauces, salsas and ethnic flavors or vegetables to jazz it up and add color, nutrition and interest,” she said. “Eggs work well with all of those ingredients and provide the perfect neutral background for those flavors to shine.”

We have an online Buyer's Guide to help you find a supplier with just the right egg ingredient to make your next project launch a success.

2017-03-27 08:45:50
 

Snacking, convenience led food introductions in 2016

We’re a nation of snackers, or at least, that’s the label that fits according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. A look back at 2016 new product introductions reveals the snacks category witnessed the highest number of new product introductions in the U.S. at 3,172.

Eggs and egg ingredients appeared in a variety of snack foods, but by far the biggest category for egg inclusion was the bakery.  In fact, after egg ingredient inclusion in baked goods dipped somewhat in 2015 (629 new products) compared to 2014 (705 new products), eggs apparently regained their popularity in 2016, appearing in the highest number of new products for any given year, at 775 new product introductions.  

The top ten categories for egg ingredients in 2016:

  • Bakery
  • Meals & Meal Centers
  • Desserts & Ice Cream
  • Pet Food
  • Side Dishes
  • Snacks
  • Sauces & Seasonings
  • Processed Fish, Meat & Egg Products
  • Chocolate Confectionery
  • Soup

Kosher, Convenient and Clean

A look at the product claims that might play a role in food formulators’ selection of egg ingredients include Kosher, convenience and clean.

“Microwaveable” claims on products were on the rise, as a convenient cooking method that saves time. This fits within one of the Mintel identified megatrends for 2017, “Time is of the Essence.” The Mintel piece says consumers are seeking “short-cut solutions that are still fresh, nutritious and customizable.” In a microwave product, the inclusion of one large egg in a breakfast bowl for example, supplies six grams of high-quality protein for a fast, nutritious and satisfying meal or snack. Egg ingredients can help foster short-cut solutions that Mintel claims will “become a clear selling point” for food and drink products that save time.

As far as clean, another popular claim on foods including egg ingredients is “no additives/preservatives.” This product claim rises year over year, as does “gluten free,” a lifestyle or eating habit being adopted by an increasing number of American consumers. Clean labeling of healthy foods fits within another Mintel megatrend for 2017, “Balancing the Scales: Health for Everyone.” Especially important, the analyst states are campaigns and innovations the make it easier for lower-income consumers to fulfill their healthy ambitions.

We anticipate 2017 will see an even greater number of products that rely on egg ingredients for not only their functional properties, but also due to protein content and clean label implications. The egg supply is abundant. Our online Buyers’ Guide can help you find the right supplier. Click on www.AEB.org/BuyersGuide.    

http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/food-and-drink/mintel-announces-six-key-global-food-and-drink-trends-for-2017

2017-03-13 18:49:33
 

An Egg a Day to Reduce Stroke Risk

An apple a day is associated with preventive measures for better health. New studies continue to build eggs’ reputation as a recommended, better-for-you food choice. A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition

(JACN)1 suggests daily egg intake does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and may actually contribute to decreased stroke risk. Researchers examined studies that were published from 1982 to 2015 and that involved close to 300,000 participants, to draw their conclusions. They found that consuming one egg per day reduced the risk of stroke by 12 percent. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.2 Also, the study concluded there was no association between eating an egg and coronary heart disease.

Principal study investigator Dominik Alexander, Ph.D., Ann Arbor, MI, is quoted as saying “Eggs do have many positive nutritional attributes, including antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.” 

“They are also an excellent source of protein, which has been related to lower blood pressure,” he continued.

One large egg contains six grams of high-quality protein and antioxidants, found within the egg yolk, as well as 13 other vitamins and minerals in varying quantities, including vitamins E, D and A.3

Dr. Alexander’s research corroborates changes in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans4, which eliminated dietary cholesterol limits and includes eggs among lean protein choices recommended for consumption. The guidelines noted eggs are an affordable, accessible, nutrient-rich source of high-quality protein.

Egg ingredients also are affordable and accessible for food manufacturers. Eggs and egg ingredients of all types are in abundant supply.

Further, studies like the recent JACN article help confirm the role that eggs can play in a healthy diet. As consumers read and absorb new scientifically based information about the health benefits associated with eggs, this poses clean label implications.

Many baked goods for example, rely upon eggs for product form, structure, appearance, shelf life and taste. Bakerpedia, in its explanation of clean label states “Clean label products aim to market to consumers focusing on a healthy lifestyle and consuming only wholesome, nutritious food to provide energy while removing any unnatural elements of food from consumption.”5 

This focus on a healthy lifestyle is a major factor in the development of the clean label movement. Consumers seek clean labels in products across categories however, not just in the bakery. And one survey revealed that consumers value clean label above brand. Seventy-seven percent of respondents agreed that the ingredient list of food and drink products is important while only 53% felt the manufacturer or brand was very or quite important.6

As mounting scientific evidence reflects the health benefits of eggs, this means egg ingredients can lend a “healthy halo” to food products, which is good news for the consumer and manufacturer alike.

 

1Alexander DD, Miller PE, Vargas AJ, Weed DL, Cohen SS. Meta-analysis of egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 Oct 6:1-13.

2 https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/112?manu=&fgcd=&ds

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/

http://www.bakerpedia.com/processes/clean-label/

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/packaging/
hannah_furlong/consumers_actively_seek%E2%80%99_natural_ingredients_clean_label_pac

2017-02-27 15:43:16
 

Sweeter than Ever

Indulgence—the very word conjures up a sense of satisfaction and perhaps a wee touch of guilty pleasure. Despite the trends towards healthier eating, small, simple indulgences within the food world retain their popularity.

Among the most recent predictions for 2017 by Sterling-Rice Group (SRG), their top is “Wake and Cake,” or a diet str ategy that promotes sweet indulgence in the a.m. segment. SRG expects more people to participate in this trend to indulge in cake either for or immediately after breakfast.

The group leaned on two separate studies to formulate this trend: one from Syracuse University that proves a daily dose of chocolate improves cognitive abilities, such as memory and abstract reasoning; and the second, a Tel Aviv University report that says eating dessert after breakfast could help people lose weight.

Actually, the study in Tel Aviv found that breakfast was a huge factor in weight loss success. One group consumed a low-carb diet with a 300-calorie breakfast, while the other ate a balanced 600-calorie breakfast with a chocolate cake dessert. The researcher said, “The group that consumed a bigger breakfast including dessert, experienced few if any cravings for these foods later in the day.” “These” refers to carbs and sugars. The cravings for carbs and sugars caused participants in group one to cheat on their diet plan.

Where can you find an ingredient that helps create a balanced breakfast and can help create a tasty chocolate cake?  Look no farther than the egg. One large egg contains six grams of high-quality protein and makes an eggs-cellent addition to any balanced breakfast. And egg ingredients act as staples in cakes of multiple varieties, to aid with texture, crumb, flavor, appearance and much more. We have a series of videos that discuss the role of egg ingredients in baking where you can learn more about their functional role within chocolate cake and other applications.

Chocolate cake for breakfast—that’s a diet trend I can wholeheartedly embrace!

2017-02-13 08:45:18
 

Biosecurity and the Egg Supply

Not as catchy perhaps as “Jack and the Beanstalk,” or “Beauty and the Beast,” but the relationship between biosecurity and the egg supply is of vital importance to egg farmers and the food manufacturing industry. It’s no fairy tale either, but based on thorough investigation, sound science and hard work.

Eggs are in ample supply, mostly due to the hard work of egg farmers to recover as quickly as possible from the devastating effects of avian influenza in the spring of 2015. In fact, the industry recovered more quickly than projected by initial estimates.

Thorough investigation after AI yielded new measures recommended for egg farmers, based on sound scientific principles. Biosecurity is always a priority on U.S. egg farms and egg farmers are focused on taking all needed steps to protect their flocks. In response to the viral outbreak, U.S. egg farmers, together with turkey and chicken producers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other authorities, have heightened measures on the farm to limit the spread of avian influenza. Comprehensive biosecurity practices on commercial egg farms include, but are not limited to, restricting farm access, preventing hens from exposure to wild and migratory birds, increasing veterinary monitoring of flocks and using protective gear at all times.

USDA offers a comprehensive HPAI Biosecurity checklist for the sound start to a stringent biosecurity plan that includes processes to safeguard the premises and proper practices regarding equipment handling, personnel, visitors and vehicles that travel to or between individual farms.

The ample supply of eggs and egg ingredients in all forms give formulators the opportunity to stretch their creative imagination for new and proven applications. In addition, eggs fit any dining trend. The six grams of high-quality protein, contained in any single, large egg, makes them the perfect component for a protein pack or salad kit in the fresh aisle or “grocerant.” Pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs, available from some egg suppliers, make it easy to incorporate eggs into these applications.

Egg ingredients’ functional properties provide a functional powerhouse for clean label products from appetizers through dessert and any category in between.  And as a further measure to protect the public and provide peace of mind, all further processed egg ingredients are pasteurized, for food safety. 

The egg and egg ingredients—their functional properties and nutritional value make them a fairy tale come true for formulators when the facts bear out the promotion.

 

2017-01-30 09:47:00
 

Healthy snacks: Protein UP and processing down

Like opposite ends of a see-saw, as consumer pressure mounts for increasingly healthier snacks and greater amounts of protein, just as equally they’re demanding foods that are minimally processed with few to no additives, when possible.

Luckily, clean-label applications within the protein-centric category are within reach when clean label ingredients like eggs are available.

According to one presentation at the Global Food Forums Protein Trends Seminar in 2016, strong growth defines protein-centric categories. Sports nutrition bars and powder, protein supplements, energy bars and meal replacements lead the charge.

Active, healthy lifestyle consumers are choosing healthier foods and exercising more. Boomers recognize the value of protein for aging muscles. Millennials crave convenience and better nutrition in foods and beverages designed for on-the-go consumption, whereas parents want healthier snack options for their children.

Add to this the fact that more consumers report flexitarian eating patterns, with 44% of consumers serving a meatless meal at least 1-3x per week, and it makes a protein-focused formulating strategy a wise move.

Eggs have traditionally been used as the standard of comparison for measuring protein quality because of their essential amino acid (EAA) profile and high digestibility. Whether using a hard-boiled egg in a protein pack or using one of the different types of egg ingredients available for formulators in frozen, liquid or dried form, often these ingredients can appear simply as “eggs” on the label.

Admittedly, there are new protein ingredients available for formulators to try. There is now a distinction between new or so-called “legacy” ingredients, such as eggs. There are multiple reasons why legacy ingredients like the egg are well trusted within the industry. One primary reason is reliability. Egg ingredients have proven their functional value through decades of use in applications of all varieties.

Many baked goods owe their appearance, texture, taste and part of their shelf life to egg ingredients. Proteins from egg whites help control crystallization in select confections and frozen foods. The flexibility egg ingredients offer formulators fit a variety of applications in many different categories, including vegetarian and flexitarian formulationsEgg ingredients, through their various functional properties, a list comprised of more than 20, contribute to all of those properties, depending on the application. No need for seesawing concerns when using egg ingredients; they offer the perfect balance of proteinfunctionality and clean label benefits.

 

2017-01-16 08:05:00
 

Taking advantage of the store perimeter

Just as an eggshell protects the interior part of the egg, the perimeter of the store is safeguarding the fiscal health of today’s grocery store. According to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), the perimeter is actually the “epicenter” for growth.

In 2015 the fresh prepared category demonstrated 9.8% growth to reach $10.8 billion in sales. U.S. supermarket foodservice sales are larger than that of prominent chains such as Domino’s or Dunkin Donuts, and growing at a faster pace than Wendy’s, Starbucks or Panera.

The outlook for the next three to five years shows perimeter growth is going to continue, with accelerated sales growth for certain high performing product categories. Food product developers who embrace this trend can realize success with existing or new product introductions.

While entrees and appetizers dominate, salads are not far behind. Salad sales equaled $1.5 billion exhibiting 9.0 percent growth. Dips and sauces in the fresh section don’t represent the largest category, but sales grew an astounding 34.9 percent in 2015.

Whether looking to create entrees, appetizers, salads, dips and sauces or a grab-and-go single-serve dessert, eggs and egg ingredients play important roles to help create enticing foods for the fresh market concept.

Egg ingredients contribute more than twenty functional properties including binding, emulsification, whipping and aeration to name a few, that help breading’s adhere to appetizers, cakes form and dips and sauces retain a smooth, creamy consistency.

Eggs complement salads, adding a recognizable protein component that helps attract consumer interest. Try creating your own refrigerated grab-and-go protein pack that contains a hard-boiled egg alongside cheese or sliced vegetables.

Egg ingredients of all varieties are currently available in abundant supply. Pre-peeled, hard-boiled eggs, the perfect component for salads or protein packs, are available from some egg suppliers. We have a complete listing in our newly updated Egg Product Buyer’s Guide. Take advantage of eggs to realize the full potential of store perimeter sales!

Just as an eggshell protects the interior part of the egg, the perimeter of the store is safeguarding the fiscal health of today’s grocery store. According to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), the perimeter is actually the “epicenter” for growth.

In 2015 the fresh prepared category demonstrated 9.8% growth to reach $10.8 billion in sales. U.S. supermarket foodservice sales are larger than that of prominent chains such as Domino’s or Dunkin Donuts, and growing at a faster pace than Wendy’s, Starbucks or Panera.

The outlook for the next three to five years shows perimeter growth is going to continue, with accelerated sales growth for certain high performing product categories. Food product developers who embrace this trend can realize success with existing or new product introductions.

While entrees and appetizers dominate, salads are not far behind. Salad sales equaled $1.5 billion exhibiting 9.0 percent growth. Dips and sauces in the fresh section don’t represent the largest category, but sales grew an astounding 34.9 percent in 2015.

Whether looking to create entrees, appetizers, salads, dips and sauces or a grab-and-go single-serve dessert, eggs and egg ingredients play important roles to help create enticing foods for the fresh market concept.

Egg ingredients contribute more than twenty functional properties including binding, emulsification, whipping and aeration to name a few, that help breading’s adhere to appetizers, cakes form and dips and sauces retain a smooth, creamy consistency.

Eggs complement salads, adding a recognizable protein component that helps attract consumer interest. Try creating your own refrigerated grab-and-go protein pack that contains a hard-boiled egg alongside cheese or sliced vegetables.

Egg ingredients of all varieties are currently available in abundant supply. Pre-peeled, hard-boiled eggs, the perfect component for salads or protein packs, are available from some egg suppliers. We have a complete listing in our newly updated Egg Product Buyer’s Guide. Take advantage of eggs to realize the full potential of store perimeter sales!

2017-01-03 16:37:08
 

Protein snacks packs: A hard-boiled story

Savory characters can have their ‘sweet’ spots and hard-boiled eggs are no exception. The growing popularity of protein snack packs led to a new consumer survey conducted by Datassential, revealing that hard-boiled eggs could play the hero in snack pack concepts that attract consumer interest and spark purchase intent. Researchers tested product concepts to determine the type of hard-boiled egg pairings and packaging that were most appealing. The research also zeroed in on key characteristics of protein snack purchasers and identified purchasing triggers.

Frequency … Nearly 80 percent of protein pack buyers purchase them at least monthly. Furthermore, 41 percent overall purchase these types of protein boxes at least weekly, with that share varying widely by brand.

Dayparts Purchase intent is not tied to a specific daypart. Most consumers in fact, say they purchase a protein pack as a snack (64 percent), while 59 percent said purchase intent is tied to the lunch/dinner segment and 52 percent say they purchase protein packs for breakfast.

Descriptors Half of all consumers believe that the word “pack” best describes a protein snack option, with approximately one-third or 29 percent favoring the word “kit,” while “box” came in third.

Survey respondents said they would be most interested in and likely to buy hard-boiled eggs as snacks if they came in portable packaging, with the addition of flavor and more prominent nutritional benefit communication on package labels. Also, consumers seem to prefer their proteins paired together, citing preferences in combo packs for hard-boiled eggs to be paired with meat, cheese, nuts or fruit.

Savory’s Sweet Spot

The company tested a few hard-boiled egg snack pack concepts, including packaging and label designs, with the consumer groups. Among prototypes tested, the two that scored the highest included a two-egg protein snack pack including seasoning, and a three-compartment “protein power” snack box that featured a hard-boiled egg, cheese and roasted edamame. These two concepts among those tested, exhibited the highest earnings potential, scoring well for factors including high purchase intent, uniqueness, frequency and draw.

This combination of high purchase intent and a high uniqueness is considered the “sweet spot” for new product concept development. If you’re interested in more specifics concerning product concept development and survey results from Datassential, send me an email. Or, to find producers that distribute precooked hard-boiled eggs and other precooked egg products to start creating protein snack pack concepts, try checking our online Egg Product Buyer’s Guide

2016-12-19 08:08:44