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Consumer Labeling and the Evolution of Clean

Are consumers reading labels? Yes they are — according to the International Food Information Council’s annual survey, Food Insight 2014, 65 percent of consumers read the Nutrition Facts Panel, second only to the number of adults that look for the expiration date (66 percent). Their attitudes towards label claims have evolved over the years. A recent talk delivered at Food Labeling: Strategic Regulatory Compliance, early in February, by Shelly McKee, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services for the American Egg Board revealed what attracts consumer buyers and what turns them off.

Food manufacturers need to pay careful attention to what they put on the label, not just due to government oversight, but also to earn and hold onto consumer trust. Only 38 percent of U.S. consumers say they trust what is on the label. (Mintel).

A full 93 percent of consumers prefer to see common names for ingredients on their labels, while 61 percent of consumers believe that a product labeled “all natural” is healthier (Mintel, 2013). This obviously creates a paradox for marketers between a stated consumer desire for natural, versus the threat of a lawsuit based on the amount of current litigation surrounding the term.

What the food manufacturing industry turns to in lieu of natural is a “clean” label, however this is an insider, industry phrase. Consumers call it something else. Regardless of the term and many have emerged — clear, simple, authentic, transparent — several surveys and studies show what the term means to the buying public.

According to a Gallup survey, U.S. adults identify clean labels as having

  • All natural ingredients
  • Recognizable ingredients
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No added sugar
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • No MSG

The list of what they don’t want seems to outweigh what they do. There are also surveys that reveal the positive things consumers want on product labels and examples of products that capitalize on these desires. However, the list of “Nos” leads into another subsection of labeling, the “free-from” movement. We’ll examine what that means in our next blog post. 

2015-02-18 17:39:29
 

Incredible Breakfast Trends Regional Flavors are “In”

Your favorite breakfast might depend on your geographic location. Despite the proliferation of chain restaurants and national retail brands for packaged goods, regional preferences and tastes abound and influence our food choices. Three areas of the country in particular have had a strong influence on breakfasts, identified in the latest Incredible Breakfast Trends  report for the first quarter of 2015. 

Trend 1: New York City Melting Pot 

Millions of immigrants entered through the gateway of Ellis Island and while some scattered to other parts of the country, many stayed in New York. The city has remained one comprised of ethnic neighborhoods, each with its own cuisine. 

Breakfasts influenced by ethnic cuisines are arguably the most interesting meals. The 2015 National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey of American Culinary Federation chefs listed ethnic-inspired and traditional ethnic breakfast items as the top two trends respectively in the Breakfast/Brunch category. And ethnic-inspired breakfasts ranked sixteenth overall within the top 20 food trends for 2015. 

Trend 2: Southern Cookin’ 

Chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, grits and ham might be Southern staples, but even those north of the Mason-Dixon line enjoy this fare. The numbers prove it; Datassential shows egg dish ingredients of grits, country ham and biscuits tracking at 213, 162 and 145 percent of the national average, respectively. And in the south, breakfast sandwiches include both ham and biscuits approximately twice as often as the national average. 

Trend 3: California Sunrise 

In addition to its dedication to better-for-you breakfasts, California also favors fusion cuisine, to marry the best of foods and techniques, keeping menus dynamic. Datassential verifies that overall a full 50 percent of Americans are now interested in BFY breakfasts. And the NRA chef survey verifies that fusion cuisine is taking hold of the country at large as California spreads its influence to other states. Chefs ranked ethnic fusion cuisine above authentic ethnic cuisine as the top trend for that category. 

Menu trends do find their way into the retail case when food manufacturers create an adaptation that appeals to consumers who want to control their eating location, occasion and price point. The majority of consumers say their tastes are shaped by their restaurant experiences, however the majority of meals are not eaten inside a restaurant, on the road, at work and at home. (NPD1) 

These trends are becoming reflected in the brigade of breakfast offerings in the retail freezer case. Tyson Day Starts line was comprised initially of seven varieties, among them the Southern Style Chicken Biscuit, joined by a bevy of egg/cheese/sausage combinations on a variety of enticing grain-based canvases, from flatbread to biscuits and wraps.  The unique part of this market entry is that it came from a company, whose prepared food offerings account for just 10 percent of its revenue, showcasing the dynamic opportunities that exist for food manufacturers in the prepared food breakfast segment. Tyson said in a recent Bloomberg article that it is examining further options for the breakfast market.2 

The regional taste trends found on restaurant menus prime consumer taste buds to offer food manufacturers greater leeway for experimentation with bold ethnic flavors and tastes. A simple sauce, the right spice combination or even a particular cheese selection can elevate the handheld breakfast sandwich, bowl or prepared meal to a regionally-inspired overnight success.

 

 

1 - https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/the-economy-of-eating-in-america-americans-are-going-out-less-and-getting-more-meals-from-home/

2 - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-16/bacon-gets-breakfast-competition-from-tyson-chicken-commodities.html

2015-02-18 17:36:27
 

Dried Egg Whites

Egg whites, also called albumen, are increasingly sought out by food formulators who are trying to boost the protein content of all types of foods. This is because egg whites are almost all protein and water. Thus, when dried, egg whites are a concentrated source of high-quality protein.

 
Many food manufacturers find that when a formulation calls for egg white, it is easiest to work with whites that have been already separated from the whole egg and dried into a powder form. With most of the moisture removed, dried egg whites have a long shelf life and are shelf stable. 

Dried egg whites readily reconstitute and easily blend with other dry ingredients. One pound of dried egg white reconstitutes with water to yield 8 pounds of liquid egg whites.

In the United States, dried egg whites are usually produced by spraying atomized liquid egg white into a heated drier chamber. A continuous flow of accelerated heated air removes most of the moisture. The resulting ingredient is referred to as spray-dried egg white, spray-dried egg white solids or spray-dried egg albumen. Egg white can also be dried on trays or pans to create a flake or granular form.

Glucose, a reducing sugar, is removed from egg whites before drying to produce a product with excellent storage stability. Whipping aids such as sodium lauryl sulfate may be added to dried egg white products at less than 0.1% by weight of the liquid prior to drying. The sodium lauryl sulfate functions as an emulsifier and a thickener to help build volume and to stabilize the foam when beating or whipping the end product. 
Dried egg white with sodium lauryl sulfate is often referred to as high-whip dried egg white.

Specifications for any of these forms vary by supplier; however, in general, spray-dried egg white with glucose removed has a moisture content of 8.5%, a protein content of about 82%, and no significant fat or carbohydrates. The rest is water and ash. This product, if kept dry, has almost an infinite shelf life.

Food manufacturers use dried egg whites in a variety of applications including frozen desserts, bakery mixes, meringues, coatings and batters. Recent innovative applications include high-protein snack chips and par-cooked pasta used in heat-and-eat soups and entrees. 

2015-01-19 23:08:50
 

Yolk's on You: Successful Formulating

While the benefits of whole eggs and egg whites are well-known and celebrated, last fall the consulting and research group Sterling-Rice in Boulder, Colo., named 2014 the “Year of the Yolk” in its annual “Cutting-Edge Dining Trends” report, bringing the yolk into the spotlight.

In January Restaurant.com predicted eggs would star in dishes in every daypart, not just breakfast, as the number one dining trend for 2014. Aside from being a tasty addition in foodservice establishments to everything from egg salad and omelets to more creative culinary concoctions such as egg topped burgers and pizzas, egg yolks play an important role in food manufacturing.

Salted yolk remains a staple for mayonnaise and salad dressing manufacturers for its emulsification properties, stemming from its composition of low-density lipoproteins. Pasta benefits, too, because egg yolks serve as a natural protein binder for all types of noodles. Plain dried egg yolk contains 30-32% protein and liquid/frozen egg yolk protein ranges from 15.3-16.0%. This binding capability is particularly useful in par-cooked pasta sold refrigerated under modified packaging conditions, or in prepared foods sold either refrigerated or frozen.

Egg yolks can supply a rich, golden color to pasta and baked goods, help bind, coagulate, act as a humectant to absorb moisture and of course, emulsify. Egg yolk thickens and binds when heated due to the protein denaturation making egg yolks a popular addition in meat and meat substitute patties and hot creamy sauces.

Egg yolks are available in dried, liquid and frozen forms. Typically, further processed frozen egg yolk will be comprised of either 10 percent salt or sugar. This is added to the egg yolk to inhibit gelation and avoid increasing the ingredient’s viscosity. Freezing the egg yolk does not affect their emulsification properties.

An enzyme modified egg yolk possesses high water solubility, enhanced emulsifying properties and has greater heat stability. In addition, the egg yolk features a full complement of impressive nutritional values.

2015-01-07 17:40:31
 

Egg Ingredient Spotlight: Does Clean Label Still Matter?

The short answer is “yes,” however there are different reasons why it still matters and why using REAL Eggs makes sense for formulators.

Despite the flurry of lawsuits over the word “natural” on product labels, consumers are still looking for real and authentic ingredients and fewer of them. Some industry experts are using terms like “transparent” or “transparency,” in terms of desired company values, practices and ingredients. As Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as the dominant market force, their values and purchasing habits become more important. This is a generation interested in authenticity and sustainability, which dovetails with the clean label philosophy

In addition to shorter labels, consumers prefer ingredients similar to those found in a typical kitchen. Egg ingredients, available in dried, liquid or frozen forms, can generally be listed as “eggs” on the label. Most consumers, in fact 94% of them, have shell eggs in the refrigerator at home and are familiar with and enjoy eggs.

Egg ingredients can supply more than 20 different functional properties within formulation, a fact that means a great deal creating a clean label product. When one ingredient can perform multiple functional tasks within formulation this translates into a shorter ingredient deck.

Concerning sustainability, the egg industry recently completed a landmark, 50-year study documenting progress towards an improved environmental footprint. The U.S. population increased 72% over the last 50 years, yet egg farmers increased the hen supply by just 18% to meet this greater demand. Today the industry releases 71% lower greenhouse gas emissions, has reduced water usage by 32% and improved hen feed to deliver a scientifically nutritious diet, while requiring fewer corn and soybean crops.

American farmers supply most of the further processed eggs used in this country, for a reliable domestic source, saving transportation compared to ingredients from overseas. And further processed egg ingredients are pasteurized according to strict standards to ensure their safety. Domestic sourcing, improved sustainability, incredible functionality and a safe track record – REAL Eggs make sense for clean labels.

2014-12-22 21:03:14
 

Protein Power of Real Eggs

Protein used to occupy its quiet slot on the nutrition facts panel with little notice from the average consumer. Today its muscled its way to the package front and is no longer the sole province of weight lifters and professional athletes. Multiple studies confirm consumers are sold on protein-fortified foods and the benefits protein supplies to a healthy diet.

However, formulators are left with the puzzle of fitting extra protein into a food that still needs to achieve target goals for structure, taste, appearance and texture. Eggs already are considered a perfect protein and the standard against which all other proteins are measured. Equally as important egg ingredients supply critical functional properties, an acceptable flavor profile and also enjoy a high degree of familiarity and acceptance among consumers.

The perfect complement to fortification is functionality, but it’s a rare protein that can supply both. Egg ingredients provide more than 20 functional benefits to food applications, among them foaming and aeration, coagulation, gelation and shelf life extension. The proteins found in the whites, yolks or contained in whole egg ingredients are responsible for the majority of these functional attributes.

The fact that egg ingredients supply more than a single function multiplies the benefits to the formulator for a synergistic effect with other ingredients. A product’s mouthfeel and texture cannot be attributed to any single ingredient and outside factors such as time and temperature can affect this aspect of a food product. Other ingredients for example can create an emulsion but egg proteins help form stable emulsions that remain true through storage, shipping and shelf life. Egg proteins provide structure and coagulative properties to noodles that hold their shape when either held in a liquid or a high-moisture frozen environment while maintaining a desirable texture.

Egg ingredients contribute to gluten-free formulating, prevent staling in baked goods, control crystallization in frozen foods and help create impressive gels. And it is well-known that no other natural food ingredient can create as large a foam as egg whites. Egg whites, when whipped, create a foam six to eight times greater in volume than the original volume of the liquid, and this helps aerate baked products to provide structure, appearance, mouthfeel, texture and shelf life.

Egg yolk is well-known for emulsification properties primarily supplied by lecithin and low density lipoproteins. Proteins also aid in coagulation and help form gels. Protein functionality in egg white and egg yolk help create structure that also aids in extending shelf life due to entrapped moisture.

According to Elisa Maloberti, Director of Egg Product Marketing, “No other single protein ingredient can supply the multiple functions formulators can rely upon from egg proteins, not to mention the benefits derived from the wealth of vitamins and minerals contained in a whole egg.”

REAL eggs might possess one of the best reputations among proteins as well, when it comes to consumer sentiment.

A recent NPD study indicates 78 percent of consumers agree with the statement that protein contributes to a healthy diet. And when asked which protein they are consuming more today than in the past, 55 percent of respondents said they are eating more eggs.

Maloberti says this increased egg consumption bodes well for food formulators’ use of eggs when it comes to label concerns. “A consumer increasing their at-home consumption of eggs will be comfortable with eggs on a product label,” she says.

As a final note, the protein contained in REAL eggs is easily digestible and readily available. This helps create nutritious foods consumers will find filling, tasty and satisfying. “When formulators choose REAL eggs to use in food products, they’re choosing the whole protein package – functionality, flavor, familiarity and depending on usage levels, fortification.”

2014-12-05 19:34:46
 

Hybrid Bakery Livens up Pastry Business

Hybrid bakery items seem to sweep over the culinary world in waves, appearing and disappearing just as quickly. We’ve witnessed the cronut (a cross between a croissant and donut), the duffin (an amalgam of a muffin and donut), the townie (tart meets brownie) and an as-yet-unnamed mixture of cheesecake layer atop a delicious fudge-like brownie.

While hybrid varieties might come and go, the overall category of pastries was the best performer within baked goods globally. According to Euromonitor International, pastries experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 3% from 2008-2013, with analysts attributing this performance to a combination of flavor innovation with the rise of specialized bakery chains. Both of these trends are setting the stage for further development of hybrid pastries.

One distinctive that defines the category of hybrid pastries is the consumer expectation of an artisanal-quality experience, which translates into reliance on authentic ingredients and from-scratch preparation. For example, brownies should be rich with a strong presence from dairy ingredients, chocolate and butter. The more fudge-like the brownie, the more it depends on the whole eggs and egg yolks added for richness and mouthfeel. Whole eggs and egg yolks deliver great flavor and help build the structure of the brownie.

If that brownie were topped with a cheesecake layer for a hybrid creation, that element would be started first, prior to the brownie construction as part of a two-stage baking process. Again, real eggs in cheesecake preparations add the functional properties of coagulation and gelation and create proper texture and mouthfeel in a cheesecake layer.

While eggs might not appear in the classic French croissant, they are included in the dough for a cronut, since it mixes the textures, appearance and flavor of a croissant with a donut.

In all of these creations egg ingredients play three major roles, in leavening, gelation and coagulation. There isn’t a single protein ingredient available in the market that can replace the superiority in baking formulations that eggs deliver. Customers will appreciate the quality, the flavor and the appearance that real eggs bring to hybrids or any other bakery item that relies on eggs, including muffins, donuts, brownies, cakes, cookies and similar products.

However, baking operations can improve profitability on all of these items by saving time. Many bakeries, including large to mid-sized, are still using shell eggs. Converting to egg ingredients, particularly liquid, is an easy switch and saves time and labor. A new video and accompanying worksheets explain this simple switch at www.aeb.org/conversion.  

2014-11-19 22:55:18
 

New Conversion Video Aids Bakers

Lights, camera, conversion! The flour was flying as the American Egg Board recently partnered with AIB International to create two short educational videos about egg product conversion. They are designed to show bakery owner/operators the easy process of switching from shell egg usage to liquid or powdered egg ingredients, respectively. 

Eggs provide amazing functionality in baking operations all across America. Many small to medium-sized bakeries that use shell eggs are interested in switching to liquid or powdered egg ingredients to create cakes, cookies, desserts and other products. 

One video discusses conversion from shell eggs to liquid and another the switch to powdered egg ingredients. The first video about liquid egg products entitled, “Shell Egg to Liquid Egg Conversion. Easier than you might think,” will be available the end of September. Both videos are due for translation into Spanish and will be posted online. 

Several reasons could prompt a baker to make the switch including the ability to create premixes, the opportunity to save time and labor spent cracking open individual shell eggs compared to the convenience of measuring liquid or powdered egg ingredients, or the availability of and storage space required for shell eggs.

Toby Moore, a baking professional at AIB, said the organization regularly receives calls from bakers asking about the conversion process, indicating an audience ready for this educational outreach. “Bakers often believe the conversion will be complicated and expensive when in reality it is an easy and often economical switch,” said Moore. 

Some of the many benefits for a baker to switch from shell eggs to liquid or powdered can include:

•    Save time/labor
•    Save storage space
•    More accurate measurements
•    More consistent finished product
•    Potential food safety improvements
•    Decrease waste

Much of the footage was shot onsite in the industrial baking facilities of the American Institute of Baking, Manhattan, Kansas. AIB’s credibility as an educational and testing organization is well-known in the baking industry. 

Each video is approximately four minutes long, yet provides thorough instruction on the benefits and ease of making the conversion, including a discussion about safety and proper handling. Printable worksheets make conversion easy to implement in any bakery location. 

Find the video links and download printable conversion worksheets at AEB.org/Conversion.

2014-11-06 21:06:45
 

Breaking Bread: New Study Shows Artisanal is “In” with Consumers

Scrumptious, delectable or in modern parlance #nomnom, artisanal bakery items hit a sweet spot with American consumers. Because nothing goes better with that morning cup of coffee than a fresh baked donut, muffin or pastry. And this sector is one of the sweeter spots in a shifting baking industry.

Overall in the U.S., we’re eating fewer products from the bakery than in former years. While the population has increased 12 percent since 2000, flour production is up three percent, according to a new study published by Rabobank in September entitled, “Breaking Bread: Cooking up Success in U.S. Bakery Sector.” Bakers might consider some product readjustment to capture market share.

The best performing baking category is the $28 billion cake and pastry sector, up 4.1 percent. And within the artisanal segment, artisanal/unpackaged cakes and pastries grew by 4.8 percent per annum between 2010 and 2013. These unpackaged, artisanal style sweet goods represent the rise of “industrial-artisanal production” and a particularly promising opportunity for commercial bakers.

Generally, artisanal-style recipes start from scratch and don’t involve a premix. The use of industrial mixers and tools isn’t precluded to create an artisanal product. What is expected however is that the craftsperson use traditional techniques and wholesome, authentic ingredients.

There are many ways REAL egg ingredients can help create true, artisanal bakery products. An egg wash helps finish off a classic French-style croissant. Egg ingredients create smooth cheese fillings in an authentic Danish. Egg white creates the airy structure expected in an angel food cake. Egg yolk and whole eggs help tenderize donuts and provide structure. Cakes, cookies and other products rely on eggs to improve eating quality, help create proper texture and crumb and supply fillings with a smooth viscosity. Eggs enhance both functionality and elevate the eating experience. And REAL eggs will tell consumers purchasing the unpackaged, industrial-artisanal bakery items that your products fit an authentic artisanal model. 

2014-10-27 16:33:44
 

REAL Eggs are GMO-Free

With the free-from movement gaining ground, REAL eggs present an attractive ingredient choice for formulators. Many foods are advertising what’s not present as much or more than what is, whether free-from preservatives, additives, gluten, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Such products are designed to appeal to a group called “food avoiders,” in a 2014 Packaged Facts report. 

REAL eggs supply upwards of twenty functional properties that can help simplify labels, a true benefit to the formulator appealing to the free-from market. In addition, REAL eggs, in the shell, are a GMO-free food. 

American Egg Board recently made available a white paper that presents the scientific facts proving real eggs in the shell are not a genetically modified (GM) food. In fact, neither chickens nor eggs are genetically modified. This would include the shell eggs used as the basis for further processed eggs used as ingredients in food manufacturing. 

While the large majority of corn and soybean crops grown in the United States are genetically modified, and these are primary constituents of most animal feeds, none of the proteins related to genetic materials pass through the hen to the egg due to the hen’s digestive process. Multiple scientific studies prove this fact. Furthermore, they show there is no nutritional difference for the hen population caused by eating GM-feed. 

What eggs are not free from is nutrition. The beneficial nutritional properties of eggs and egg ingredients are well documented, supplying quality protein, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals.

Find the citations and a downloadable version of the "REAL Eggs..." white paper here

2014-10-13 13:15:38