Special Report: Trending Good Fats

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10 Apr 2017 --- Two trends continuing to dominate 2017 are clean & clear labels and the reduction of using ingredients with negative connotations and perceptions around them. Although there are geographical differences with some ingredients, like sugar, fat is universally being cut. Across the board food innovators and manufacturers are finding ways to use less of it, none of it and substitute it for healthier alternatives. 

The key driver for this is the fact that obesity rates - particularly childhood obesity - continue to climb at an alarming rate and we’re constantly hearing messages of unhealthy kids growing into even unhealthier adults unless they change, or their parents, change dietary habits and opt for a healthier lifestyle. 

In fact, just last year The World Obesity Federation in Paediatric Obesity published figures suggesting that if current trends continue, 268 million schoolchildren worldwide will be overweight by 2025, including 91 million with obesity. 

But as the industry continues to reformulate to reduce fat content and more consumers tap into healthier personalized nutrition trends, those estimates could well be a lot less - only time will tell.

We take a closer look at some of the food and ingredients that are trending and considered part of the “good fats” movement. 

Avocado
The avocado boom is still officially going strong. One of the reasons is the undeniable health credentials of what has become an international favorite. Forget avocado substitutes, only the real thing will do when it comes to the so-called “good fat”. The avocado is virtually the only fruit that has monounsaturated fat. 

The use of avocado is maturing; foodies are experimenting with a larger variety of avocado-led recipes, while manufacturers are becoming more sophisticated with avocado use. New product developments include avocado oils, while vegetables are also infiltrating desserts, for more savory flavoring and health appeal (although technically avocado is a fruit).

Avovita is a new and innovative range of 100% natural foods made with pure avocado and are positioned on a “free from” platform. Avocados are an amazing superfood, naturally containing healthy fats, fiber, protein and much more. Over 50% of real Australian avocado can be found in the Avovita’s Avocado Chocolate Mousse which is promoted as: “vegan and paleo friendly, all natural, nutritious and delicious.”

Retailers are also getting in on the avocado action. Last year Tesco launched the UK’s first ever avocado spread as a Click to Enlargesubstitute for butter. “With this, the UK’s first ever avocado spread, our product developers have created a new and exciting way for shoppers to benefit from the excellent health credentials of avocados in even more ways,” Tesco said at the time. 

And the widespread appeal of avocado is so great, restaurants are cashing in on the boom as well. Recently opening in Amsterdam, The Avocado Show describes itself as Europe’s first all-avocado restaurant, and in the last couple of weeks avocado aficionados have been making a beeline for Brooklyn’s new avocado “fast food” restaurant Avocaderia. 

Oils: Coconut, Canola, Olive and Algae
As is often the case in the food industry, opinion surrounding certain ingredients is polarized and often confusing to the consumer. But that is nothing new with marketing versus science.  

A good example is coconut oil, which some coconut evangelists claim boosts metabolism, is good for healthy glowing skin, promotes a healthy heart, boosts the immune system and so on. It can be used for frying, in smoothies and even in coffee - plus so much more. In reality the edible oil that is extracted from the kernel or meat of the mature coconut harvested from the coconut palm has a high saturated fat content - it is slow to oxidize and promotes longer shelf life. The increase in use of coconut oil could be more about consumer perception of health rather than the reality of the saturated fat content. 

Meanwhile, virtually every component of this versatile fruit-nut-seed (coconuts qualify for all three) is being used in new applications. The sap is turned into coconut sugar as an alternative to refined sweeteners; the oil is used in a growing list of natural beauty products; and the white flesh of the coconut is now in flours, tortillas, chips, ice creams, butters and more.

But as the search for new healthier oils continues opportunities exist for creative suppliers. For example, in Australia, The Simply Fine Food Company use coconut oil, instead of unspecified vegetable oils and fats found in other wraps for their rye wraps. The product features a strong front of pack “palm oil free” claim. Coconut oil is on trend, with +44% growth in global product launch activity with a coconut oil content/benefit claim (2015 vs. 2014). Looking at growth for global product launches with a coconut oil content/benefit claim in selected market subcategories (2015 vs. 2014), we can find a dramatic rise in certain fields, albeit some from a very small base: savory/salty snack (+567%), processed cheese (+467%), ice cream (+300%), sweet spreads (+125%), breakfast cereals (+77%) and fats & spreads (+62%). 

Canola
Consuming canola oil as part of a healthy diet may help to reduce abdominal fat in as little as four weeks, according to health researchers who found that after one month of adhering to diets that included canola oil, participants had 0.11 kilograms, or a quarter pound, less belly fat than they did before the diet. They also found that the weight lost from the mid-section did not redistribute elsewhere in the body.

“As a general rule, you can't target weight loss to specific body regions,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition, Penn State, “But monounsaturated fatty acids seem to specifically target abdominal fat.”

“Visceral, or abdominal, fat increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, and is also associated with increased risk for conditions such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes,” said Kris-Etherton.

“Monounsaturated fats in canola oil decrease this fat that has adverse health effects.”

Olive Oil & Olives
The health credentials of olive oil have been well documented for decades - and many studies involving olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, especially as part of a Mediterranean diet, show a correlation between good health and longer life.  As well as its distinctive flavor, olive oil is also associated with many health benefits thanks to its high level of polyphenols, it has been proven to reduce cholesterol and have a positive effect on blood pressure. Click to Enlarge

One of the latest innovations associated with olives comes from pioneering olive company Grupo Elayo which is making use of the health-enhancing bioactive components found in olives for some of their newest applications. In order to do this, they extract the seeds from the fruit's hard stone using SORTEX sorting technology from Bühler. 

Based in The Andalusian province of Jaén, Spain – one of the biggest and most important olive oil growing regions in the world - Grupo Elayo was founded in 2012 by José Maria Olmo Peinado, an engineer and economist, who has worked in the olive sector for over years. 

“We are developing new products and applications from various parts of the olive including certain by-products – not only in the field of food, but also for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries,” he says.

Grupo Elayo is currently working on developing new products based on the olive seeds, including bread energy bars or snacks, where the olive seeds can be used in a similar way to pumpkin seeds. Peinado has also developed a procedure for extracting highly concentrated oil from the seeds. 

“Small quantities of this kernel oil could be used for cosmetics, functional foods, or medical applications such as therapy for joint pains or the treatment of burns,” he adds. 

Algae Oil
TerraVia and Bon Appétit Management Company have adopted Thrive Culinary Algae Oil as its preferred oil, chosen for its unique combination of nutrition, culinary and sustainability benefits that align with the company’s kitchen principles. 
 
Thrive Algae Oil is available as a premium cooking oil in grocery stores and online through Amazon. The retail oil contains Click to Enlarge75% less saturated fat and 25% more monounsaturated fat than olive oil. The foodservice offering has been expanded to meet the demanding needs of today’s chefs, including a canola blend for high volume uses such as deep frying, created to deliver benefits in sustainability and nutrition while hitting the right economics for high volume outlets. 
 
Fedele Bauccio, Founder and CEO of Bon Appétit, who is recognized as a pioneer of sustainable foodservice commented, “We love Thrive Algae Oil and have been testing it for a year now. Using Thrive® Algae Oil, our chefs can create flavorful, nutritious meals, that are also healthy for the planet. We are excited to more broadly adopt this truly innovative, game changing oil across Bon Appétit.”
 
“The leadership Bon Appétit has shown with its commitment to nutrition and sustainability is unparalleled,” said Apu Mody, CEO of TerraVia. “They lead by example in the care they put into the food they serve to their guests every day. Their deep commitment directly aligns with TerraVia’s mission to use algae, the mother of all plants to deliver the world’s healthiest oils and ingredients with the lowest impact on our planet’s scarce resources.”   

Chia Oil
Chia seed oil provides a sustainable, vegetable (vegan) source of Omega-3 oil that consumers are seeking and is the richest source of omega-3 found in nature, with at least 60 percent of omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid that consumers are seeking as part of a healthy diet.

Last month, Taiyo announced their partnership with Benexia, a producer of 100% natural, clean label, non-GMO, gluten-free chia seeds.

Taiyo are selling Benexia’s new chia oil produced via XIA PURE Ox Blocker, its proprietary process that ensures significantly improved stability, greatly extended shelf life and a superior quality seed oil for use in foods, beverages and dietary supplements.

“Taiyo has over 70 years of working with functional oils and addressing customers’ needs for innovation, quality, stability and claims,” Scott Smith, V.P. of Taiyo International told FoodIngredientsFirst

“We are pleased to add Benexia’s chia oil, the richest source of omega-3 found in nature, having over 60 percent omega-3 ALA, to our North American portfolio. Furthermore, the excellent oxidative stability at room temperature is of great interest to our customers.”

Sandra Gillot, CEO of Benexia said: “Benexia offers their full line of chia based ingredients to the food and supplement industries on a global basis, and Taiyo and Benexia will continue to work together whenever and wherever it offers a benefit to our global customers.”

“Because our chia oil featuring XIA PURE Ox Blocker is so unique, we needed a company that knows how to successfully launch and sustain interest for branded ingredients that possess truly original technology.”

Benexia have successfully developed XIA PURE Ox Blocker technology, enabling them to guarantee a longer shelf life of the product, a stable delivery of its nutraceutical properties, and a consistent fresh taste and smell.

“The technology allows Benexia to obtain a pure chia oil that guarantees the intact presence of the natural content of antioxidants contained in the seeds, maintains high fatty acid (ALA) stability, and offers a great taste with exceptional nutrition, all without risk of rancidity,” Gillot adds.

Nuts - Almonds
Almonds are a nutritionally dense food, rich in a whole host of vitamins and minerals, rich in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fats. 

According to an Innova Market Insights Global New Product Introductions Report late last year, almonds were considered the leading nut in new introductions in Europe with a 48% regional share and a new record high of 42% globally. Germany, UK and France followed the US as the top leading countries introducing new almond products. With 4,313 new almond products, Europe saw a double-digit growth of 16% increase in 2015. 

This is the first time almonds have taken the top spot in Europe with the lead being particularly driven by increased consumer demand in the snacks and bars sectors as well as growing interest in lactose-free and gluten-free - the leading health claim in UK almond introductions. The demand for almonds can also be attributed to their role as natural, nutrient-rich ingredient with appealing taste and crunch and extensive versatility as well as their consistently safe, stable supply.

Conclusion 
For many years now the unrelenting advice has been to cut out the so-called “bat fat” (saturated) which has in turn had an impact on dairy and many other categories.

However, it is worth noting that, although healthy fats and oils are trending and look likely to continue somewhat, the notion that all saturated fat is bad for us is wearing thin with certain demographics. For instance, some millennial and the upcoming Generation Z consumers, (currently influencing their parents’ spend with a smaller proportion of their own money) have a different mindset. The so-called “Instagram generation” in particular do not necessarily seek out plant-based alternative fats or view any type of fat as unacceptable or even forbidden. There are forecasts that in the coming years, the foods that will be popular with younger consumers will be those that contain minimal processed fats and oils and are GMO-free.

by Gaynor Selby

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