Sauces: Clean label formulators approach taste & texture

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29 Aug 2017 --- As clean label becomes more pervasive in sauces, food innovators are challenged with keeping pace by using natural, clean label ingredients to significantly reduce sugar and salt content and also present a range of free-from claims. The search to balance taste and health is driving the market throughout a multitude of product categories, while propelling innovation on the shelves. And, in terms of sauces, manufacturers are creating new dimensions and enhancements through a range of solutions and alternatives. 

Although scratch cooking is on the rise, time-pressed consumers still turn to prepared sauces to cook in their own kitchens and developers need to create great-tasting products that don’t compromise on texture, viscosity, flavor or stability.

And as consumer flavor preferences shift, there are opportunities for a broader variety of sauce solutions inspired by flavors from around the world. People want to conveniently rustle up an array of international dishes via ready-to-pour sauces that offer a more adventurous blend of flavors and spices.

On the other hand, the same consumer demands a certain level of sweetness in a sauce and manufacturers are using alternative sweeteners, like fruit ingredients, as a key solution to achieve that sweet balance.

“Even though sugar is under pressure and experiencing tough times, through consumers demand and governmental regulations, it’s still the main ingredient that delivers the sweetness and taste that consumers seek,” explains Natalia Willner, Marketing Manager at Bösch Boden Spies, the exclusive purveyor of Sunsweet plum ingredients in Europe.

“This, on the other hand, challenges the industry to develop tasty, innovative and clean label products that answer to the consumer’s demand of balancing the added sugars amount.”

Recent new solutions 
New solutions based on plum and dried plum ingredients from Sunsweet, are designed to offer several benefits for sauce manufacturers. They range from fresh plum concentrate and prune juice concentrate to dried plum puree and dried plum powder. Only the d’Agen variety is processed due to a higher sorbitol, fiber and antioxidant content, combined with a smooth texture and bright acidity.

“Fruit ingredient such as prunes deliver natural sweetness due to their natural composition,” Willner says. “The prune is a very versatile fruit; they are naturally equipped with sorbitol, glucose, fructose and sucrose – no added sugar is used.” 

“Due to its natural functionalities, we can easily include the prune and plum juice concentrate in sauces in order to achieve a shorter and cleaner ingredient list and enhance existing natural flavors at the same time.”

The salt content in barbecue sauces made with the plum ingredients will also be around 30 to 70 percent lower.

Aside from plums, the Hamburg-based ingredients specialist is also presenting two innovations to its extensive range of natural fruit ingredients at Anuga in Cologne in October; wild dried blueberries from Canada and goldenberry juice concentrate from the Andes. 

Fruit flavors
Another good example of getting more specific with fruit flavors and highlighting the origin comes from German food giant, Carl Kühne KG. It has recently launched a new line of sauces for meat that is based on flavor inspiration from around the world – plus they contain fruit. 

Made for Meat is available in three flavors: Cranberry BBQ, Aji Panca Chili and Indian Curry. The latter is an exotic fruity curry sauce that has been boosted with the use of a smooth Cayenne pineapple and apple pieces. 

Meanwhile, in the US, Brooklyn trailblazers Victoria Fine Foods, offer an artisanal approach and only uses “a handful of fresh wholesome ingredients without added sugar, water or preservatives” in its sauces.

It was among the first to put its ingredients on the front of the label, hence the tagline: Ingredients Come First and the company even runs an initiative called #ReadYourLabel, a movement to encourage consumers to be more aware of the ingredients in their food. 

“It's about simplicity. It’s about transparency. It's about being informed. What's in your food, and by whom and where it's made. It's the way you feed your family. Victoria has been committed to ingredients come first since day one, which is why they put them on the front of their label,” says the company.

With the growing concern around sugar consumption, particularly hidden sugar, sauce manufacturers are beginning to take note and launch products which target this issue. However, it remains to be seen whether no added sugar will become the norm in sauces but there is definitely some movement in this direction. 

As a result of hidden sugar concerns, several UK companies have already launched cooking sauces which contain no added sugar. Princes Food, manufacturers of Italian sauces range Napolina, has launched a complete range of sauces under the sub brand No Added Sugar, to distinguish them from the standard range. Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz also launched a number of cooking sauces for the UK market which contains no added sugar.

You can read the second part of this report here

By Gaynor Selby

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