Plant-based and allergen-free themes shine at IFE Manufacturing 2023
22 Mar 2023 --- Quality functional, nutritional ingredients and sophisticated food tech and innovative products made their mark during the International Food and Drink (IFE) Manufacturing event in London. Developments in chocolate, beverages and plant-based solutions proliferated the show floor as did sustainable, clean label, reduced sugar and allergen-free innovations.
FoodIngredientsFirst takes a look at some of the key themes at this year’s event and speaks with a range of F&B innovators unveiling animal-free alternatives, allergen free options, prebiotics induced drinks, among other NPD.
At the event, plant-based company’s showcased how NPD begins to sharpen its focus on cleaning up the label and highlight eco-friendly practices.
Meeat, a player in the plant-based meat market, told us about using a fermented fava bean protein for its products. This, they say, is easier to digest, avoids soy – due to allergens and intolerances – and it is grown in Finland, where the company is based.
“Fermented fava bean is really an interesting product because a lot of the vegan companies use soy or those allergens that aren’t suitable for all consumers. So we are using fermented fava bean because its suits everyone,” explains Emma Vuorio, marketing manager at Meeat.
“We use Finnish fava beans so we don’t have to ship the product from the other side of the world. It’s a local ingredient, it’s healthy, sustainable and something that we have eaten in Finland for hundreds of years. It was sort of forgotten about but now it’s trending again. The fermentation is key to this process; it breaks down the enzymes.”
The company thinks its sausages suit the British market and its fermented fava bean sauces – red curry, tikka masala and Bolognese – appeal to UK consumers.
There are currently 50 products in the Muu by Meeat range.
Chocolate for “smart indulgence”
We also talked with chocolate businesses RED chocolate and Playin Choc on the show floor.
Glenn Gardone, president and co-founder of RED chocolate, told us that he “hates the term healthy chocolate.” His company produces no-sugar-added chocolate that is gluten-free, kosher and non-GMO, having dark, milk, almond and orange-flavored offerings.
“We call it ‘smart indulgence’ because you're going to indulge and therefore do it a little smarter. So RED chocolate is smart indulgence. Ultimately, it’s about the no sugar added so you can indulge and have the pleasure without all the guilt.”
“Consumers after a while, start looking at ingredients, understanding all the bad things that come with refined sugar.”
RED chocolate products – currently sold in the US – will reach UK shelves in three months, with the company also launching a vegan oat milk chocolate in May.
Maya Simler, founder of Playin Choc, explains how its chocolate educates children about biodiversity and animal welfare.
“Our main product is the toy choc box, which comes with a sustainable 3D puzzle toy and a fun fact card. Our chocolate is made from three organic plants: cacao, coconut and vanilla.”
The Playin Choc product comes from Peru, is low-sugar and is natural free from the 14 most common allergens. Their offering includes vegan, milk and dark variations.
Probiotic “living soda”
D-Drinks unveiled “Fhirst” a no-sugar probiotics, prebiotics and added zinc soda. The company claims to be the first business to combine probiotics and prebiotics in one recipe, with its product being ambient shelf stable.
Its beverage contains 2 billion active micro-encapsulated cultures and 5 g of prebiotic plant fiber based on chicory root inulin and corn fiber. The drink achieves a sweet taste through an infusion of stevia leaves.
“Seventy percent of your immunity is located in your gut. The gut is responsible for producing a lot of hormones like serotonin like dopamine, happy hormones. They’re produced in the gut and they go to the brain,” says Steven Van Middelem, founder and CEO of the D-Drinks Group.
“So the link is significant and our product supports the gut and, therefore, brain health. We want to raise awareness about the gut-brain axis.”
The product will launch in two bespoke flavors, Passionfruit, Cherry and Vanilla and Ginger and Mandarin.
“Everybody is going plant-based”
At IFE Manufacturing, Mondelēz International also highlighted the momentum of its Philadelphia cream cheese vegan alternative, which, according to Viv Sturridge, customer development manager of the business, expands the versatility of the brand of its offerings.
“Everybody is going plant-based. We are moving with the times.”
Meanwhile, London-based Doughlicious presented its broad range of vegan Dough Chi – cookie dough with ice cream in the middle rolled in a cookie crop. The company’s dough is vegan and gluten free, with vegan ice cream options of chocolate chip, chocolate truffle, mint chocolate chip and coconut.
The company plans to launch in Australia and the US this year.
By Marc Cervera, with additional reporting by Elizabeth Green live from IFE Manufacturing
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