Bunge Loders Croklaan flags “changing society” focused on boosting health and nutrition
30 Oct 2020 --- Indulgence remains that “little bit of magic” craved by consumers as the world grapples with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, simultaneously health and nutrition are top-of-mind for consumers, and according to Bunge Loders Croklaan (BLC), this desire to blend health with indulgence is becoming even more prevalent.
Seeking comfort through food is a major trend gaining traction around the world as lockdowns continue.
According to BLC, consumers seek healthier solutions within specific categories, and the importance of this is getting “even more crucial.”
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Renee Boerefijn, innovation director for Europe at BLC International, highlights a “changing society” as to why health is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds.
“Generational impacts are the driving forces for better health and nutrition,” he explains.
Consumers today want products deemed healthier, but they still don’t want to lose out on the indulgence, Boerefijn flags.
“The current situation means many people are working from home. They may be impacted by cost cuts or job losses. Consumers want to have their comforts in the form of food, yet the food needs to be better in terms of health,” he explains.
Labeling comes to the fore
Last month, FoodIngredientsFirst reported that European regulators were gearing up to make front-of-pack nutrition labeling mandatory by the end of 2022. In response to this, BLC is ramping up its reformulation solutions to give food manufacturers a “competitive edge” on their front-of-pack labels (FOPL).
According to Feike Swennenhuis, marketing director EMEA at BLC, these food labels are based on a few elements, reduction of salt, reduction of sugar, calorie intake and the removal of saturated fat (SAFA).
“At BLC, we are well placed in a few of these health criteria,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“FOPL are also part of educational programs, which can really determine children’s and youngsters’ mindsets, and they can influence the buying behavior of families. It’s really a black and white situation,” Boerefijn stresses.
“We play into that with our offering,” he continues. “There are several common elements to which we can deliver.”
Delivering on indulgence
One crucial element for BLC is that fat delivers indulgence. Boerefijn says the company must deliver on indulgence to ensure that consumers will continue to purchase a product because of its likeability.
However, Boerefijn says that when you improve a product’s nutrition, you “run the risk of losing the indulgence.”
“We have developed various solutions, such as the company’s Sweetolin ingredient, for that to make sure that the mouthfeel and the overall eating experience is as great as before,” he maintains.
“If we make food totally healthy and unlikeable, no one will buy it. We also have insights into our customers’ recipes and have developed solutions to be fit for purpose.”
BLC is also co-creating with its customers to make sure that whatever it develops works in terms of productivity and the final liking of its customers.
Driving taste and nutrition
According to Swennenhuis, BLC has a very clear purpose. “To develop and deliver taste and nutrition in the most sustainable ways.”
“We’re very well placed in the area of health. We’ve defined it as a core area and we continue to deliver productively and help consumers make better choices in taste and health,” he explains.
“We are keen to drive the health element by helping our customers through reformulation and making sure that we can get the healthiest product possible,” Swennenhuis notes.
Boerefijn says the nutrition sector is “quite disruptive indeed.”
“We see a shift in demand, and lots of customers are working on reformulation strategies today,” he adds.
“The generational impact that we see is also powerful and we can play into every category,” he assures.
According to Boerefijn, reformulation requires the “best of our abilities combined between those at the customer side as well as our scientists.”
When it comes to co-creation to make those solutions work, we must find the right balance between the nutritional profile and the indulgence, he explains.
“At BLC, we understand those functionalities like nobody else,” he argues.
“And we can make it very specialized in that way that we keep the originality of the product standing. Yet we can improve nutrition.”
Behind every product is consumer demand
According to Swennenhuis, reformulation is driven by what consumers want.
“There’s never been a more dynamic time than today, with the arrival of new generations,” he says.
For example, Millennials drive different food behaviors compared to other consumer groups.
“They drive it on health, animal welfare, sustainability and traceability,” Swennenhuis comments.
“So, there are many elements in industry which are quite dynamic driven by true behavioral shifts. By understanding these behaviors, we can tap into this new narrative of health and taste and gauge this new balance,” he explains.
“It’s a very dynamic time, one which is being significantly driven by consumer behaviors,” he asserts.
For Boerefijn, this notion is “extremely motivating.”
Commenting on the pandemic, he adds that it is “life-changing.” In the same way, in which consumers are changing, their habits are evolving due to the pandemic.
“One thing to note, however, is that indulgence remains to be ‘a little bit of magic,’” Boerefijn concludes.
The “ultimate chocolate experience” in spreads
In other company news, BLC and Natra, a European company specializing in chocolate products and cocoa derivatives, have joined forces on a tailor-made solution that delivers real chocolate taste.
The companies are combining their joint market knowledge with BLC’s lipid expertise and Natra’s chocolate know-how to develop a solution that enables a more balanced nutritional profile without compromising on the sensory experience.
In this long-term collaboration, BLC leverages its state-of-the-art processing capabilities in its Neuss facility, in Germany, to create a solution to achieve optimal functionality, combining ingredients from both manufacturers.
This combined solution is then used by Natra to create chocolate spreads for its confectionery customers, already winning contracts with two large confectionery producers.
As well as in spreads, the product can also be used as a functional ingredient in confectionery fillings and bakery fillings, the companies note.
By Elizabeth Green
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