Call it an appetizer, a side dish or simply a snack, gourmet finger foods and premium condiments purchased at the supermarket and consumed at home are one of the hottest trends in prepared foods. This is likely a result of Americans having traded down from gathering with friends at restaurants to home entertaining. In response, retailers are dedicating larger amounts of refrigerated and freezer merchandising space to such products, which range from premium cracker spreads to frozen hors d’oeuvres.
Ethnic seasonings and regional dishes are influencing product development efforts, with many formulators also relying on egg products to ensure quality and premium positioning. For example, gourmet dips and spreads often use egg yolks to achieve a rich and creamy consistency, as egg yolks are a concentrated sources of phospholipids and lipoproteins, which are excellent emulsifiers for stabilizing oil-in-water solutions. Egg yolks also help bind the many flavors, spices and particulates added to dips and spreads, thus preventing separation.
Indeed, many frozen appetizers are fried or baked prior to being packaged, and egg products in the dough help prevent freeze-thaw deterioration. Egg products in batters also help with adhesion, or the binding of the breading to the food. It is the proteins in egg products — specifically in the whites — that assist with adhesion.
With consumers’ increased interest in new flavors and cuisines, premium appetizers are an ideal option for enjoying without over indulging. Egg products can assist with quality, and at the same time keep ingredient statements simple and clean, as if the products were prepared fresh by a chef.