Key Interview: Vibrant Harvest Whole Food Powders, Clean Label, Sustainable & Nutritious Offerings from PLT Health

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13 Feb 2017 --- PLT Health Solutions is a trusted discoverer, developer, and marketer of high-quality, scientifically-supported ingredients that enhance health and functionality. Today, the company delivers solutions across a number of health & wellness platforms that respond to existing and emerging consumer demand. 

The company has an expanding portfolio of ingredients destined for use in the food industry. New ways to deliver clean label nutrition, front-of-pack claims of fruit & vegetable servings wrapped up in sustainable ingredients that reduce energy consumption and good waste. The ingredients in question are Vibrant Harvest Whole Food Powders, FoodIngredientsFirst investigates.   

According to PLT Health “consumers increasingly want their nutrition from whole foods –natural, minimally processed, understandable sources.”

The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of the US Department of Health Click to Enlarge& Human Services and the USDA identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

“Vegetables and fruit are the only characteristics of the diet that were consistently identified in every conclusion statement across the health outcomes,” explains Dr. Barbara Davis, PhD RD – Vice President of Medical & Scientific Affairs for PLT Health, in a detailed interview.

“The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current US diet.”

Aside from a consumers looking for plant-based diet, PLT Health have noticed a preference for sustainability and clean label that has swept through the food & beverage industry in recent years. “At PLT, we’re seeing that clean label has become a virtual baseline requirement for ingredients going into food and beverage products. Consumers are now looking for additional qualities like transparency, better nutrition and sustainability in the products they purchase. 

Maximizing agricultural production, quality nutrition for a wider range of people and delivering these with a minimum environmental impact were the main drivers behind the technology developed to create Vibrant Harvest Whole Food Powders,” explains Davis. 

“Resource conservation and sustainable production are two of the great stories behind Vibrant Harvest. But beyond these, Vibrant Harvest powders taste and look great and have outstanding nutrient retention from the original material. These ingredients allow food and beverage producers to create products that will delight the senses of consumers while giving them nutritional value that they can trust,” she says.

There is multi factorial rationale for the demand that we are seeing and a need for clean label that has been consistently growing and Vibrant Harvest Whole Food Powders do meet those needs. They are simply dried, the water is removed but everything else is intact. There are no fillers or additives, so you are getting 100% fruit and veg which we certainly see as a big advantage and why there is a huge interest there.”

What was the initial idea behind the Vibrant Harvest Powders? “The challenge of how to get more nutrition into products is a Click to Enlargereally big issue and when we were bringing Vibrant Harvest to the market there was this whole concept of sustainability and food waste. So we wanted to come up with a way to address it and Vibrant Harvest does just that,” explains Davis. “I love the idea of safe food preservation; we are resisting waste as an example of this.”

Vibrant Harvest Whole Food Powders have a shelf life of up to three years. According to Davis, from an application standpoint, the powders are very easy to use because the size of the particles can be customized, there’s a lot of high solubility and flexibility with these powders, which PLT Health are seeing a lot of discussions around. 

Davis goes on to address the labeling issues involved with the whole food powders, “If you rehydrate the powder you can actually move it up on the label, this is something that is very appealing to a lot of our customers,” she explains. “For example, with 2.6g of kale powder, if you reconstitute it before adding it to your product then that moves the kale powder to rehydrated kale and obviously because of the fact the water is it heavier it can then move up on your ingredient label, which is something that a lot of people want to do – put kale (or another powder in question) as the main ingredient, so that was one significant learning for us.”

Davis continues: “In terms of labeling from a claims perspective, a popular way to go is the idea of a serving size, “Contains a full serving of fruit”, works very well in front of pack so the food and beverage industry really like to talk about that and it’s very easy to do with this kind of ingredient.”

What categories are you seeing most potential for Vibrant Harvest Whole Powders? We began with targeting breakfast cereal bars, sports nutrition and the bakery segments because it’s very easy to add to these categories. Meal replacements products, beverages mixes, fruit preps for bakery, dairy, or snacks, soups and sauces can also use Vibrant Harvest. You can add an extra serving of fruit and veg conveniently and it also makes for some really interesting colors and flavors for the sauces,  because the colors are retained in the powders.” 

“We call it Vibrant Harvest because the colors are so vibrant; it makes it appealing to our customer base. Even in confectionary we have some chocolate covered fruit centers that are visually pleasing, you can open them up and you see these really bold color combinations, so confectionary is definitely another option for this ingredient as well,” she claims.  

“We’ve also had a lot of interest in nutritional supplements, and especially combinations of fruit and veg in supplements. Some want capsules, other want nutraceutical powders and I think that the supplement industry is really venturing out to other formats and applications, there has been strong growth across lots of different categories,” Davis adds. 

She also hinted at opportunities there in the infant and toddler market, using Vibrant Harvest Powders, “We are in talks with companies about product development in infant nutrition, so that’s one area to watch out for, it’s still a long road but there is huge potential there.” 

“One of the things that we are finding interesting from our consumers is the desire for blends,” Davis notes.  “We can do this at the early stages with the starting material being blended together so that the finished product is completely homogenous, so it’s not trying to mix powders together at the end of the process but actually from the beginning, leading to a combination put together using nutritional strategies and to meet nutritional needs. Powder blends are one of the things that have a strong presence in our R&D pipeline.”

PLT Health tailor make blends to suit their customers, “It’s interesting because we started off with this line of fruit and veg powders and then we found more and more that people want to customize depending on their needs, we are working to figure out the best combinations from a nutritional standpoint,” she says. “Some people want to make red blends other want to make green and so. People want them for the colors as well, the complete organoleptic profile, the good thing about strawberry powder is you see that its red and the moment you put it in your mouth or add it to a smoothie, you know what you are eating. It’s a complete package of visual as well as taste and then of course the nutritional values are what our customers want as well.”

How do you differentiate yourselves in this sector? It’s really interesting industry to be in currently and we were so excited when we learnt about the offerings of Vibrant Harvest Whole Food Powders, no one else is really doing exactly this proprietary process, , it’s so different to any spray dried or freeze dried products that are on the market. Due to the use of carriers with other methods, a lot of these other products cannot offer 100% fruit or vegetable ingredients. Also with drum drying there is so much heat so you lose a lot of nutrients, the spray drying and freeze drying is very energy intensive, because freeze drying takes much longer and much energy consumption is used to do that process,” Davis states.

“There are other options out there but none of them offer the flavor, the color and organoleptics that we do,” she concludes. “We focus on keeping all the nutrients and this is not comparable in our minds.”

by Elizabeth Kenward

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