To be faster to market with the eating experiences that build consumer preference and drive repeat purchases, more food and beverage manufacturers are finding success with a food ingredient systems approach to formulation. What makes this approach so viable in today's world — and what should you look for as you consider your options? For answers, we talked with the food systems experts at Ingredion to discuss some of the top questions they receive from customers.
Q: First — how is a food systems approach different?
Speed. Efficiencies. Even tastier results. A food systems approach involves working with an expert partner to tailor a set of complementary, synergistic ingredients that achieve the desired results, usually delivered as a complete solution that's ready for processing in the manufacturer's facilities. Assisted by in-depth understanding of food and beverage applications and ingredient portfolio, brands can solve their toughest formulation challenges and speed the path to market.
"By leveraging the knowledge of an expert team for technical development activities, you can expand your capabilities to solve challenges faster and with greater accuracy," says Corie Beyers, Strategic Marketing Manager, Food Systems.
Q. What makes the food systems approach right for today's challenges?
Trends toward health and wellness in foods and beverages are bringing vast opportunities — and plenty of formulation challenges as developers look to achieve their ideal label goals. Whether serving the hunger for plant-based offerings, delivering sweetness with fewer added sugars, or removing GMOs, glutens and major allergens from labels, formulators are being tasked with delivering the appealing textures and tastes consumers expect, all while working with a new set of ingredients and functionalities.
How complex can it be? Imagine you're a dairy-centric food scientist tasked with creating a plant-based milk product that can deliver great taste along with the same nutritional attributes as the traditional counterparts.
"Selecting the right consumer-preferred base, whether soy, rice, oat or pea, is just the start to delivering a delicious plant-based option," says Kara Selgrade, Business Development Manager, Food Systems. "You'll then need to build on that base with added plant protein plus vitamin and mineral fortification — and these components can present challenges related to stability and shelf life, as well as possible gritty, suboptimal texture and mouthfeel," she adds. "To solve for these issues takes a stabilizer system that's compatible with both the base and the protein, and provides the functionality you need, while standing up to expected processing conditions. There are a variety of stabilizer options out there, so it takes a thorough understanding of those conditions and the other parameters around the formula to arrive at the right one."
Of course, label claims must be part of the equation from the start, too. Will it be a 100% organic product? Vegan? Non-GMO Project Verified? "Each claim adds a new wrinkle to solve, with potential impacts on processing, sensory, stability and cost," notes Selgrade.
In all, the knowledge needed to craft the optimal solution may be a bit out of your reach. But with a consultative food systems partner like Ingredion, you can tap into highly specialized skillsets to overcome the hurdles, to accelerate the journey from insight to prototype to market.
Q: What should you look for in a food ingredient systems partner?
"Above all, you'll want your partner to have the end-to-end, holistic expertise and understanding it takes to really deliver in-demand and on-trend products," says Beyers. This includes everything from proprietary insights to help reveal the best opportunities within the marketplace, to application-specific formulation knowledge to ultimately bring these concepts to life, and even problem-solving abilities to mitigate the challenges that come up and keep you moving smoothly to a successful launch.
Next, look for an extensive portfolio of ingredients. This helps ensure your system solution can deliver best synergies and functionalities that are unique to your particular formulation. "With more ingredient options, plus flexibility in sourcing, you can ensure your formulating needs are met fully," says Beyers.
Plus, a consistent, proactive and trusted partnership is key. "Having a supplier that's in tune with your needs and is willing to deliver the best solution will speed up your formulation process and help you get to your solution — whatever that solution is going to be — a lot faster," says Beyers.
Q: Where can you learn more about Ingredion's food systems capabilities?
To see details about Ingredion's comprehensive food systems offerings and to download their comprehensive guide to formulating, visit the Food Systems page at Ingredion.com. Or call 1-800-713-0208 to talk to an Ingredion representative.