Delving Into Texturants: Benefits And Opportunities

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Texturants are becoming increasingly used in food and beverage applications as they can improve product mouthfeel and texture. What are texturants, and how can manufacturers benefit from their use? Gerd Frank Pedersen, regional lead texturants, Asia Pacific Tate & Lyle, shares more with APFI.

What are texturants? How do they improve products?

Texturants like starch and gums are crucial ingredients in many of the world’s most successful foods and beverages. They are extremely versatile ingredients that can help control not only texture and mouthfeel but also process tolerance, viscosity and costs.

Starches can be derived from a variety of botanical food sources (e.g. corn, tapioca) and are available in native, modified, cook-up, instant and clean-label varieties. They can deliver basic thickening as well as highly unique functionalities relevant to all food categories.

Starches can be used in a broad range of applications and sophisticated processes, including yoghurt, dairy desserts, soups, sauces and prepared meals. They help food manufacturers address functional challenges such as providing consumers with baked products that taste great and make moist cakes, flaky pastries, soft biscuits, chewy cookies.

Starches can also help food manufacturers develop thick, creamy yoghurts, low-fat ice cream without the ice crystals, creamy soups with less fat, smooth dressings, thicker sauces, and rich vegan spreads.

They do this in different ways:

- In Baked Products:

o Structure: Starches control and enhance aeration, providing crumb structure and texture formation in baked goods. In gluten-free bakery products, starch is essential to maintain this structure for optimal mouthfeel.

o Fat reduction: Starches can enhance the moist and creamy texture of a wide range of reduced-fat cakes, muffins and pastries, while still maintaining the high-quality, indulgent mouthfeel of the full-fat varieties.

- In Dairy Products

o Mouthfeel improvement: Starches can be used to maintain a creamy, highly indulgent texture in a wide range of reduced-fat yoghurts, desserts, ice creams and processed cheeses. Starches can also be used as a technology for cost optimisation.

- In Convenience Foods, Soups, Sauces & Dressings

o Mouthfeel improvement: A wide range of soups, sauces and dressings can be developed with starches to reduce the fat but maintain the creamy, highly indulgent texture.

What benefits can they provide manufacturers with?

- Replacing costly ingredients and lowering fat and sugar: Texturants can totally or partially replace high-cost ingredients such as casein and caseinate.

- Starches can complement other ingredients and be used in combination with proteins and other hydrocolloids.

- Improving structure: Starches add structure to dairy products such as processed cheese, cheese dips and sauces.

- In confectionery, low-temperature pasting starches and cold-swelling starches allow lower or no heat levels, so functional ingredients like vitamins and nutrients are retained. Starches mainly contribute to texture in candies.

What should manufacturers take note when using starches?

On-the-go lifestyles are also changing the way we eat. The growth of convenient treats packaged in smaller, single-serve portions allows consumers to decrease their spending and calorie intake without having to give up their favourite baked goods. These trends add more pressure on food manufacturers to innovate, reformulate and deliver products that are delicious and healthy.

Globally, consumers are demanding convenient, great tasting foods that have recognisable ingredients on the label. In fact, the leading factors that influence consumers to purchase more convenience foods and side dishes are natural ingredients and higher-quality or gourmet items. Usability and value-related factors are also important to consumers. By appealing to these product preferences, manufacturers can make it easier and more convenient for consumers to make better eating choices.

In your opinion, what is the future of texturants in the food and beverage industry?

Flavours and textures are becoming bolder, more authentic, complex, specific and adventurous. It is expected that consumers will demand baked goods with improved taste and health claims. Whatever the sensory experience consumers are seeking, whether it be moist cakes, flaky pastries, soft biscuits, or chewy cookies, or the healthy claims of no additives, low-fat, low calorie or gluten-free that consumers are demanding, texturants will have a key part to play.

For example, the number of products launched with ‘clean-label’ claims continues to grow across the globe. According to Innova Market Insights, 28 percent of new products launched in 2015 had one or more clean-label claims.

Functional clean-label starches play an important role in delivering texture in clean-label formulations. In the starch category, tapioca is a specific area of high growth. In fact, of the top five starches used in clean-label products from 2010 to 2015, tapioca starches saw the fastest growth—a 27 percent average increase in new product launches.

As consumer preferences evolve, food and beverage manufacturers are increasingly searching for innovative ways to simplify their ingredient lists. Sometimes, cleaner labels can come with trade-offs in sensory attributes or functionality.