We caught up with some of The Ingredients Show’s exhibitors to get their views on some of the big issues facing the industry.

Challenging times

In terms of challenges, the team at Innovative Food Ingredients (Stand: H221) felt salt and sugar reduction were currently one of the biggest tests for the sector. In particular, maintaining a safe, healthy and tasty product without compromising on flavour, functionality or quality. However, they were confident that these issues could be overcome by working collaboratively with supply partners, keeping ahead of the innovation curve and ensuring that quality is always paramount. 

The sweet stuff was high on the agenda when we spoke to Beloved Date Nutrition (Stand: F229), who told us “The British food industry is coming under increasing pressure to improve the health of their products by decreasing sugar and increasing fibre to try to combat the growing incidence of obesity in the nation.” According to Beloved, there is also increasing consumer demand for natural products. They advised “Not all consumers want high intensity sweeteners in place of sugar, whether they are naturally or synthetically derived, but they do want ingredients that they understand and recognise from their own store cupboards.”

Speaking to Ulrick & Short (Stand: J230) about the industry’s challenges, they too agreed that sugar reduction was a major focus. They raised a number of other topical issues as well: “The ingredients industry is going through somewhat of a seismic shift” they explained. “There is a lot of emphasis on alternative proteins, vegan applications and of course Clean Label and consumer friendly declarations are continuing to become the expectation rather than the exception.”

At Rappor Metrics, director Duncan Curtis felt that communication was a key issue for the industry and commented: “Closer collaboration throughout the food chain is highly topical and of enduring importance. Improved levels of understanding between companies at all levels of the chain leads to closer alignment, enhances working relationships, and can lead to big-picture solutions to the big issues surrounding the industry, including sustainability, food waste and plastic recycling.”

Turning challenges into opportunities

The team at Innovative Food Ingredients stressed that salt and sugar reduction also presented opportunities not just challenges. They were keen to share some of the ways they work to help address the industry’s challenges and commented: “We have qualified butchers, access to customers, kit and machinery and a newly opened NPD facility where we are able to trial product to ensure that all products meet and surpass customers’ expectations in terms of functionality, taste and appearance.”

Ulrick & Short told us they were at the forefront of the key trends and opportunities such as reformulation, with an NPD focus to reflect this. They told us “Our vastly experienced and knowledgeable team of technologists work and consult with customers throughout the process to reformulate recipes from the ground up. This is to achieve the best possible results and to extract the maximum out of our ingredients to achieve the desired finished product.”

While Beloved pointed out the huge opportunity that dates offered the food industry: “We recognise industry and consumer challenges and have a range of date based solutions offering no added sugar, increased fibre and reduced sugar options, with the added benefit of delicious flavour. Our date juice concentrates are 100% natural extracts from dates and are exceptionally sweet, so less can be used in formulations contributing to sugar reduction.”

Rappor Metrics told us how improving relationships between manufacturers and suppliers presented an opportunity for the industry. They commented: “Rappor Metrics facilitates greater understanding of working relationships between manufacturers and their key suppliers by measuring the perceptions of performance across these businesses and identifying best practices. Enabling comparisons between companies within a product category, using a number of important ‘soft’ metrics, businesses can prioritise where to make short term and strategic improvements that affect the bottom line.”

What’s new?

The Ingredients Show will see a whole host of innovative products on display, from sauces to sweeteners, vitamins and minerals to antioxidants and oils, there is a lot to explore. 

New products to look out for on the Innovative Food Ingredients stand include a range of gluten free products and AVO Sauces including Apple, Cider and Sage, Sriracha Style, Maple Orange & Chilli. Plus, don’t miss their Lafiness Black Garlic Marinade – which the team say is very on trend with health benefits and the presence of antioxidants.

Ulrick & Short told us they’re continuing to expand their product range. Recent NPD has been focussing on refining fat reduction with the launch of a new fat replacer called delyte 9. They also have a new egg replacement and have been working hard to fine tune their gluten free range, in order to really understand these emerging markets.

On the Beloved stand, the company’s Date Paste is one to look out for. The team describe it as the perfect solution for no added sugar formulations, providing bulk, texture, flavour and colour to a whole host of product categories including bakery and desserts, drinks, cereals and bars and plant based health snacks.

You can see these new ingredient launches and much more at the show and online by browsing the show’s Products page.

Talking innovation

Any one keen to learn more about industry trends and innovation should head also to the show’s first live session in the Education Theatre. ‘Trend Spotting: Harnessing Future Tech’ with Steve Osborn, Director & Technology Scout at The Aurora Ceres Partnership Ltd, promises to be packed with advice, he told us: “The focus of my session will be to consider the importance of implementing a structured innovation approach. Innovation is often seen as being focused on ‘inspiration, and creativity, but it is vital that this is harnessed with the right processes and aligned to a valid strategy, to ensure that it delivers the value that is required of it. This topic is important for anyone involved in the development process as it will help improve the chances of success of the new product development process and in turn contribute to growth with any company, large and small.  The Aurora Certes Partnership ltd help companies from start-ups to large corporate entities with innovation strategy, technical issues and technology scouting aligned to the key food and drink trends.”