Five minutes at FI Europe with …
Agro-Food Industry Hi-Tech: What insights are you presenting at FIE 2017?
Maria Pavlidou: We made a consumer survey on breakfast trends. We interviewed 3500 consumers in six European countries and in US. We found out that 82% of consumers have breakfast, but most of them have 5 minutes or less for breakfast. They want breakfast but they want it fast. We thus need to provide products that are fast and convenient. But the second thing that they want is health. If you think about it, in the morning it is easier to stick to health resolution, so it is the right moment to intervene about health nutrition. There are also regional difference: Swedish consumers are much more into natural products than others; French and Spanish are instead more indulging and have the most preference for sweet products. In UK instead the demand is completely price driven.
AF: It is quite variegated geographically, then.
MP: Yes, it is. Also, in UK there is the highest percentage of people not having breakfast at all. In US instead it is very much about fads and trends: low-carb diets, gluten-free diets etc. and they are looking for intense flavour.
AF: How is DSM exploiting this knowledge?
MP: For us it was really good news to discover that so many consumers want healthy products, since this is what we do best -our purpose is creating brighter lives for people today and generations to come, and a big focus for us is on health and wellness for everyone. And we make breakfast products better, by adding vitamins, minerals and other ingredients like omega-3 without changing the flavour. Just because a product has added vitamins does not mean that its taste has to change. This is our real area of expertise.
AF: And how do you mask or modulate the taste?
Rudolf Baechlin: We mix different vitamins and minerals according to the specifications of the manufacturers -every application is completely different- and we select the vitamins of this mix so that the taste profile is not impacted. Actually most vitamins are neutral in taste and flavor at the dosage level they are usually used in F&B, one exception being ascorbic acid (Vit C), which has an acidic taste. If an acidic taste is unwanted, it can be exchanged or mixed with Sodium Ascorbate to make it neutral tasting.
Off-tastes can develop during processing and shelf-life, which can be prevented by adapting dosage of vitamins, reducing heat impact during processing or adapting packaging and reducing shelf-life.
Flavor and taste masking is the last measure which is taken. For example the degradation of Thiamine results in a broth-like off-flavor, which can be masked well by tropical flavors such as mango. To overcome off-flavors, we work closely with flavor houses. Formulations of vitamin premixes are formulated for a specific F&B application and mostly tailored to the specific requirements of our customers product considering all technical aspects.
AF: Given that some parts of the public instead look for a sweet breakfast, how does sugar reduction come into play?
Deanne Bettie: People are much more aware about sugar, and we know that now people read labels and pay much more attention than only a few years ago. They are much more educated and conscious, and they are actively look for information. In our portfolio we offer an enzyme and culture-based sugar-reduction solution. With our Maxilact® lactase, dairy producers can double the sweetness naturally present in dairy products to create a preferred taste with less or no added sugar while DSM cultures provide an enhanced texture. With many people enjoying flavored dairy, such as yogurt, in the morning, our solution helps enable breakfast options that are lower in sugar, but still taste great.
AF: Where and which vitamins are the most requested?
MP: Vitamins are one of the classes of food products that have really solid health claims in Europe; for example vitamins of the B group are good for energy, vitamin A for vision, vitamin E for the skin and so on. They are a very good opportunity for manufacturers to add proven health claims to their products. Vitamins B are very trendy now for their contribution to energy, for example in energy drinks. And we can also complement mixtures for energy drinks with natural products, such as guaranà in substitution of caffeine. We can mix the guaranà with the B vitamins and provide a single powder that the energy drink manufacturer can add. Another huge demand comes from sports drinks, especially the ones geared towards post-exercise recovery. This is growing fast, while energy drinks are a mature market in many European countries.
AF: What can be expect from DSM in the future?
MP: We are doing more and more surveys. Last year we surveyed health concerns, this year breakfasts, and I’m sure in the next years we will see more and more of this. We want to be able to collect insights to work with manufacturers towards solutions. We give our customers data for free, and we like to work together towards a solution based on solid data.