Consumer juice tastes are driving innovation among juice producers, and every major juice release is a product of the research and chemistry that go into it. Dow Water and Process Solutions caters to those juice producers with a variety of products and services, but their big launch at the Institute of Food Technologists Food Expo in Chicago this year featured resins.
The new product isn't the resins themselves; rather, it's a new sample kit collecting six existing offerings:
- Dowex Monosphere C-600B
- Amberlite FPC22H
- Amberlite FPA51
- Amberlite FPA55
- Amberlite FPX66
- Dowex Optipore SD-2
There is a method behind the repackaging, though, and Food Dive sat down with Dow Water and Process Solutions North American Healthcare Commercial Leader Jon Fisher on Tuesday to find out about the trends and demands that Dow is trying to serve. He explained how the Specialty Nutrition Resin Kit came about and how it reflects the juice market right now.
INDUSTRY DIVE: I understand you are trying to serve a specific category here with your new Specialty Nutrition Resin Kit. Why did you pick these six resins for the bundle?
Jon Fisher: We picked these six, because the resins themselves are very specific for some of the things that they can do. For instance, the Amberlite FPX66 and the Dow Optipore SD-2 adsorbents are non-functionalized, so they don't have any chains sticking out from them or anything like that that would have any kind of ion exchange functionality.
Pretty much, we can think of them as plastic beads with little holes in them. The holes that are in them are very targeted, so that you have very high capacity to remove things like polyphenols or the bitter components like limonene in orange juice. That's a big area for us.
I saw that debittering was a point of emphasis for you.
Fisher: When citrus processors are trying to remove a lot of these components so that the juice doesn't have that bitter flavor, they can pass it through an Amberlite FPX66 column, remove those—and the nice part about the resin is it can be regenerated hundreds of times. For instance, they wouldn't use something like activated carbon where you use it once and have to throw it away. So the green aspect is there.
Is that something that's more in demand now?
Fisher: It's always been a concern, but really where you see the drive right now is more for greener processes—so, people that are moving away from maybe the activated carbon. Or they're looking at ways they can extend the life of the resin, maybe ways they can regenerate it more easily. So that's where our technical expertise comes in. It's not just the products; it's the backing we provide as far as technical expertise.
When you look at some of these other resins, like the anion-exchange resins, the Amberlite FPA51 and -55, here we look at more along the lines of deacidification. So you might have a juice stream where it's got some acid that'll give it maybe more of a sour taste. You want to remove that but not remove anything else. You can pass it through these resins and do that. And we're seeing a lot more of that.
Juice makers are getting a lot more innovative in how they blend juices and things like that. Maybe they use less sugar in their juice so if you can take some of that bitterness away—take that acidity away—then you don't have to add as much sugar.
It seems like there are a lot of new juice options coming into the marketplace with non-traditional flavors now. Have any new fruits or trends introduced new flavor concerns where these resins come into play?
Fisher: Each juice is going to be just a little bit different. That's one of the reasons we want people to screen the resins. For instance, one of the flyers we had back in the booth shows the removal of different acids. And different ion exchange resins will have preferences for different types of acids that are in juices. Some of these acids, you don't necessarily want to remove—they have health benefits. Others you do want to remove because they're not as healthy.
Everybody's talking about these new, healthy kinds of drinks. So how can they take a juice that has high sugar or something like that and basically make it healthy for you?
And all six of these have been on the market individually already, correct?
Fisher: Exactly. Yes. They've been on the market individually. The other part about this kit that I think makes really useful to our customers is—typically, the way we sell these resins is going to be in packages that maybe start at a 25-liter bag. If you're a bench food scientist and you want to work with something, you don't want to have to buy that much resin. You don't want to have to buy that much resin. You only need a little bit. So that's really one of the keys behind this, so you're not sitting there with all this material that you don't need.
Then, on the cation-exchange side, the decalcification is just pulling out calcium, which is another area that we play in. And I don't really see that changing all that much right now. And deashing—so, [taking care of] the other materials that you don't want in a food stream.
I would say what's driving this is people are looking for better economics. They're looking for ways that they can get a tweak on an existing juice or new juice, and that's really where these chemistries come in. It's not just the resins. It's the people that support them.
Does this offering help that innovation process over on the juice producer's side as well?
Fisher: Yeah, and the one thing that we've found is that a lot of these producers are very secretive about their processes. It's like the crown jewels. So a lot of times what we'll do from the resin side is we'll say, "Here's all the support we can give you." They may not want to share exactly what they're doing with the resin. That's fine.
It's really up to the customer.
Does offering this sample kit help that because it means they don't have to come back to you to buy each one individually as they try them out?
Fisher: It could. They can essentially screen, hone in on the one that they like, and then start buying at a larger scale as they move it up through the process.
What kinds of interest are you seeing?
Fisher: We just launched it this week, but we have had conversations with some folks at the show. It seems like people are interested. There has always been interest in the products themselves.
Are you looking primarily at juices? Dairy products were mentioned as well.
Fisher: It'll be a lot of play in juice, but also in dairy, where you're looking mainly for demineralization. Amberlite FPA51 can be used for demineralizing a whey stream or something like that. I would say probably our two biggest areas would be dairy and juice.
We also have use in beer and wine. Another area I forgot to mention is the natural colors area. That's another trend where there's been some concern, so people are going more for natural colors. Something like Amberlite FPX66 is a good resin for that where you can actually capture color from a stream, pull that out preferentially and then elute that back off the column.
Is there anything else we should know about them?
Fisher: The only other thing I would say about them is that they're all supported by our regulatory team, so they are CFR 21 supported. So if somebody needs halal or kosher—all those things—that's the other thing we bring to the table. We support them not just with the technical expertise, but the regulatory expertise as well.
Would you like to see more food and beverage industry news and information like this in your inbox on a daily basis? Subscribe to our Food Dive email newsletter! You may also want to check out Food Dive's look at the biggest problem Fareed Zakaria sees facing food.