National Starch Addresses the ‘Textural Experience’
by Donald E. Pszczola
posted on June 7, 2009
More and more, food manufacturers are becoming aware that like flavor and color, texture offers consumers a special and very distinct experience—one that can influence the success of a product in the marketplace. For this reason, introductions of new products with texture claims are steadily rising (12% of new products contained texture descriptors in 2007 compared with 8% in 2003, reports Mintel’s Global New Products Database).
Understanding the “textural experience” and its impact in product development may still be in the earlier stages. Only 20 years ago, when the first wave of fat replacers appeared, textural considerations were frequently overlooked. Ten years ago, when nutraceutical or functional ingredients began to gain the spotlight, their presence required the development of flavor enhancers and taste modification technologies. Today, more than ever, we see the importance of taste modifiers in the development of new sweeteners such as stevia-based products. But texture, as a consideration, still remains largely unexplored.
At this year’s IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo®, National Starch Food Innovation, Booth 1237, addresses the ‘textural experience” in a number of innovative ways.
First, a presentation on how starch-based ingredients can add textural properties to baked snacks was delivered at a New Products and Technology Session, held on Monday morning, June 8. The company discussed a broad range of textures and how they can be used in the development of gourmet, indulgent, healthy, and better-for-you options. The sensory experience of snacks can be described using familiar terms such as “crispy” and “crunchy” even though their exact definition may be somewhat ill-defined. Other textures, however, can also be created, such as “crinchy,” an in-between texture region.
National Starch has conducted significant work on the understanding of texture in baked snack applications. This work has led to the development of starch-based ingredients (Ultra-Crisp® CS, Baka-Snak®, Eliane™ SC160, Instant Textra®, and Crisp Film®) that have the ability to control the texture of different baked snacks to achieve a specific range of sensory experiences. The desired texturizer for a particular product depends on the target texture, the other formula ingredients, and the process.
Second, the company launched a new instant texturizer, Ultra Create, which combines the desired attributes of flour—opacity, appearance, and taste—with the cold-water dispersibility, consistency, and freeze/thaw stability of premium instant starches. The one-step solution allows food processors to create products such as sauces, gravies, soups, ready meals, and dry mixes with less effort. The new ingredient disperses quickly, instantly thickens without lumping, and does not gel upon cooling. It provides excellent stabilization of fats, preventing the separation of lipids in soups, sauces, and gravies. Products made with the ingredient are freeze/thaw stable, allowing foodservice establishments to prepare formulations in advance without concern about them breaking down or gelling during processing or reheating. The texturizer contributes excellent mouthfeel and may possibly reduce fat and caloric content.
Third, to help food manufacturers meet growing consumer demand for texture, the company is showcasing a number of prototypes that are the result of its proprietary Dial-In™ Technology. This approach enables food and beverage manufacturers to achieve optimum product texture without repetitive “trial and error” product development. Formulations include an oil-reduced salad dressing and a reduced-tomato-solids barbecue sauce. In addition, the company’s culinologist, Agnes Jones, is preparing two reduced-fat, creamy Alfredo sauces—mushroom and chipotle mancheco—over fresh pasta. And for dessert, a gluten-free chocolate cookie with a chewy, moist texture is served.