6th May 2021 Editorial by: Paul Carton
Centenarian Producer of Ingredients for Bakery, Patisserie and Chocolate Sector Look to New Proteins
Puratos is a global producer of innovative ingredients for bakery, patisserie, and chocolate. The Group, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, has been driven by a passion to innovate and continuously improve. In this interview with Bram Pareyt (Senior Research Manager Proteins, Puratos), he describes the current challenges facing the industry in producing clean(er) label products using alternative proteins and the current Puratos collaborative projects with its customers, SMEs, and start-ups, helping them deliver commercially successful alt protein products that meet market demands.
Q. How have Puratos adapted to the need for clean-label bakery, patisserie, and chocolate ingredients?
Bram: The need for clean-label foods is not a recent one but mainly reinforced and accelerated by the recent pandemic. Clean label, being a widely accepted term used in industry, basically has no regulatory definition. Very often, it is linked to a short and clear list of known ingredients. As such, it is also a moving target, evolving with changing consumer needs, and therefore we refer to it as ‘Clean(er) Label’. At Puratos, within the Health & Well-Being approach, we are continuously developing towards ‘Clean(er) Label’ solutions.
Q. Puratos’ Plant Forward range is focused on plant-based replacements for dairy, eggs, and butter. How have these been received in the market?
Bram: First, I would like to mention that many of our products are plant-based by essence as they do not contain animal-based ingredients. Examples are sourdough, fruit fillings, bread improvers, etc. The challenge is however quite large when our customers try to replace the functionality of eggs, butter, or dairy in patisserie, chocolate, or sweet bread items.
This is what our “Plant Forward” innovations try to help with. We have different solutions that qualify under our “Plant Forward” portfolio, which include various products:
- Allowing for egg reduction in rich bread recipes and cakes where egg is an important structural building block
- Fully plant-based alternatives for egg as a glazing agent (e.g., on top of a bun or croissant to make the baked product more shiny and appealing)
- Plant-based lamination fats that replace butter in viennoiserie applications
- Non-dairy toppings as plant-based alternatives for dairy toppings
These products have been very well received and are the basis for our Plant Forward strategy. We will further continue developing plant-based innovations as we strongly believe that these will contribute to a more sustainable future.
Q. What ingredients do Puratos offer to help promote gut health?
Bram: The link between gut health and overall health is well established in consumers' minds: a healthy gut positively influences both physical and mental health. Bread is rooted in our daily routine, making it the obvious partner for a happy gut lifestyle.
The bakery products in Puratos’ ‘Happy Gut’ range all contain gut health-promoting compounds, such as specific types of fibers, which can support consumers’ gut health status. In a way, Puratos connects the art of making bread with the science of gut health.
Q. Tell us about your Gluten-free Pilot Bakery that has opened recently.
Bram: Our brand new Gluten-free Innovation Center is located in our Group’s Headquarter Innovation Center in Groot-Bijgaarden, near Brussels (Belgium). Apart from strict sanitation rules that apply to our food research and application laboratories and pilot facilities, we are also ensuring that its environment remains gluten-free, which means that we have to prevent bringing in any gluten-containing raw materials or finished products.
The Gluten-free Innovation Center will serve as a pilot bakery and an Innovation Center, where we will extend our capacities to allow customers from around the world to co-create with our gluten-free specialists and tap into their expertise. Customers will be able to work with the newest equipment and fresh ingredients to create new gluten-free recipes.
Q. Puratos has recently launched an accelerator program for SMEs and start-ups, what can they hope to gain from this ‘Sparkalis’ program?
Bram: Sparkalis is the keystone of our partnering strategy with start-ups and SME’s. Its flexible approach means that it can offer scalable support to accelerate business growth for food tech innovators, and it will be able to quickly kick-start innovative ideas and bring them to the market for the benefit of bakers, pâtissiers, and chocolatiers.
Technologies targeted are linked to solutions and technologies in the areas of plant-based, fermentation, gut health, and digitalization. Sparkalis’ managing director is Filip Arnaut, who is also director of the Group Research and Services lab, and more information can be found on www.sparkalis.com.
Q. How has Puratos’ fieldwork using its mobile sensory lab Sensobus & Sensobox contributed to new product development?
Bram: Our mobile Sensobus and Sensobox allow us to conduct consumer tasting and sensory evaluation sessions, gathering up to 300 consumer responses a day. We can test many different things, not only limited to new product prototypes but also include pricing, marketing, and packaging concepts to name a few. At any stage of a project, we can thus gain lots of information directly from consumers, which helps us to formulate the best solutions for our customers. Sensobuses are active in Europe and the United States, while in Asia-Pacific, there are 3 Sensoboxes.
Q. A recent poll at the EIT Future Protein event showed a majority agreed that it was possible to produce clean-label products using alternative proteins, but that it’s “tricky,” what’s the tricky part?
Bram: This poll was one of many launched during the EIT Food FuturePROTEIN workshop, which was attended by more than 50 participants, and thus, indicates the point of view from the audience. Rather than “tricky,” we refer to different challenges that might arise when using alternative proteins. To name a few, these challenges can be linked to regulatory, functionality, economical, and sustainability aspects.
Firstly, from the regulatory side, alternative proteins are often new protein sources or protein-based ingredients. In Europe, for example, given EFSA guidelines and regulations, they might fall under the Novel Food Regulation if no consumption of these ingredients is known by humans prior to May 15, 1997. In other regions, other regulations will apply.
Next, protein ingredient functionality is a key aspect when formulating towards plant-based alternatives for egg and dairy ingredients, as they display important functionalities depending on the product, the other ingredients present, and the process, etc. Finding a one-on-one replacement for these ingredients is not always straightforward, and ingredients or technologies might have to be combined to get the desired result.
Economic aspects include the ingredient cost. In this respect, it is an important observation that many of these alternative protein sources are emerging and need scaling-up before they will able to compete with more cost-effective long-standing ingredients.
Linked to the economics is also the food supply chain, in terms of being able to meet the growing demand. But also the local aspect is becoming more and more important for consumers hence, why we have also started research programs also in Africa.
And finally, I would also like to mention that sustainability is an important driver for plant-based ingredients. Therefore, we are calculating Life Cycle Assessment scores of our products. A good example here is our Sunset Glaze, which has a 3x lower LCA footprint than regular egg wash.
Q. Upscaling seems to be a major obstacle in supplying new proteins to meet market demand, can Puratos, with your extensive knowledge of fermentation, overcome these delays?
Bram: The upscaling challenge was mentioned in recent discussions held at the FutureFoodTech conference, where participants discussed it in the context of precision fermentation. I’ve learned there that new companies are facing similar although often different challenges.
I’ve heard input that “while almost everything is theoretically possible, defining the protein of interest” (that is, to the large market) is quite challenging, but also finding the right expression organism, scaling and more particularly to an efficient cost level, and regulatory aspects are some major obstacles to deal with. Within this context, we are more than open to discuss with start-ups in this field how our expertise can help them and what win-win collaborations we can target.
Please contact Puratos for further information on any of the items mentioned above.
Date Published: 6th May 2021
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