Meeting vegan demands: Inside the reformulation challenge

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09 Apr 2018 --- Supply chain pressures, environmental concerns and the trend towards what are deemed to be healthy lifestyles are pushing demand for products with fewer animal-derived ingredients. One company responding to these developments is Kröner-Stärke, which recently launched a new clean-label egg replacer, REGG-EX, to the European market. This product allows food processors to simplify bakery formulas and to avoid the use of artificial ingredients, while still maintaining the texture and authenticity of the original recipe.

The multi-purpose functional egg replacer is 100 percent clean label and produced entirely from wheat flours and untreated spring water. The product is particularly suitable for use in fine bakery wares such as muffins and bakery mixes, where comparable baking properties can be achieved with a 30-40 percent reduction in egg content. Given recent price hikes caused by the 2017 fipronil contamination scare and its subsequent impact on supply chains, REGG-EX is promoted as an ideal replacement solution for food processors and bakery specialists. On top of that, the ingredient can help manufacturers create products that appeal to the growing vegan market.

FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with Henrik de Vries, Sales Director at Kröner-Stärke, about the company’s egg replacer, as well as the technical challenges involved in creating animal-free, vegan products.
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Henrik de Vries,
Sales Director at Kröner-Stärke

FoodIngredientsFirst: What are some of the main challenges in creating vegan-friendly offerings?
Henrik de Vries: “Mouthfeel is key to the standard product and so is stability. However, products that help with this are often not vegan and finding replacements for them is mostly a challenge. For the mouthfeel, it’s always the target to be near the original product in regards to texture. To appeal to consumers, it should be vegan or meat-free, but with the same mouthfeel and taste. Taste is normally not the biggest problem as this could be created using flavors or sauces, so mouth feeling is always the biggest problem we face.”

“In the case of our egg replacer, it was also a challenge for the customer to have a downward comparable production line which is also suitable without egg, to have the same properties to be worked within an industrial bakery. It is always a challenge to have an end product which is also workable on technical and industry lines, such as in an industrial bakery. It has to be suited to industrial production, more or less, and sometimes when you replace an ingredient with a vegan product, you may have different technical properties. This is only possible to understand with extensive trails and tests.”

FoodIngredientsFirst: How about clean label aspects of the product?
Henrik de Vries:  “It is a clean label product and manufacturers can declare it as starch. This was also a huge target for us as we are a clean label producer and is part of our strategy. We don’t use any additives in our production process and our target was always to have a clean label product. Normally vegan products are not clean label, so we had to give the same properties to our vegan product as the products that came before it. Normally stabilizers, flavors and so on used to have additives and for us, it was a target to avoid using these.”

FoodIngredientsFirst: Which areas do you feel deserve further research or investment when it comes to the further creation of vegan ingredients?
Henrik de Vries: “Investments are necessary for the technology sector to ensure the proper technology is available to create these products. So, for example, if you would like to have products which are texturized, you have to invest in the proper technology. Or you could use some gadget. In the end, it’s clear you have to invest to understand the development of the product.”

“For example, it was our target to reduce the egg content of a product because it was significantly high, but then we came to see that maybe we can totally replace egg. We made a special product and then created a vegan alternative. So, it’s always important to have the capacity to understand how to approach development and develop a product which is then suitable also for the vegan market. For example, our vegan mayonnaise mix, which makes it possible to create mayonnaise in a home kitchen, is more or less a mixture of different existing products we already have. So this was only a development story in this case.”

FoodIngredientsFirst: How big do you see the demand for vegan ingredients and how much do you think it will grow? Where is the biggest growth potential?
Henrik de Vries: “At Biofach last month I had a lot of discussions with different vegan-interested consumers. This segment is growing and it’s also a business which has left the realm of really small scale businesses and is more or less somewhere in the middle.”

“There are a lot of interesting start-ups and, I think with our technical support such interesting products can be developed. It’s more of a niche at the moment, but it is becoming less so. It’s not that people are 100 percent replacing meat over the whole year, but there are many people who want to leave out meat or other products and go vegan for a few days at first to check the result on their body and health. And this number is growing.”

“At the moment, this niche is becoming increasingly interesting for our biggest customers in the industrial food area. Global players are not so focused on vegan products and I think it’s necessary to have different brands because of the customer interests. It’s necessary to understand that it’s often not the standard producer who is producing products and then also has a vegan range. For consumers, it’s important to have a unique product and that is more developed by the start-ups.”

“I think the next step will be the creation of vegan friendly industrial products and then it will be about moving more in the direction of clean labeling, to avoid e-numbers. The next step may also involve going organic, because the vegan and organic trends fit perfectly together. At the moment, many brands are publishing their product as vegan, but they are not organic. With the topics of clean label and organic becoming much more important today, I see these as important trends that will accompany the vegan trend.”

By Lucy Gunn

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