Plant-based opportunity? New AGRANA organic potato fiber holds meat alternative potential

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29 Nov 2018 --- Austrian-headquartered starch supplier AGRANA has innovated with the launch of a new organic potato fiber solution, to meet technical and health demands. At HiE 2018, which finishes today in Frankfurt, the company is presenting Agenafiber amid the strong rise of a high fiber fortification trend. Due to its well-developed water-binding properties and texturizing characteristics the insoluble fiber offers a lot of various additional benefits in food products, including meat alternatives.

Maltodextrin or especially dextrose in sports nutrition products typically offers a sharp peak of energy followed by a quick crash. AGRANA’s new solution allows sports performers to be more energized after exercise. “In the case of dextrose, it will take relatively short time before you get back to your initial level or even under your initial blood sugar level. With AGENANOVA you can extend this time. You don’t have such a crash and just settle on your baseline blood sugar level,” Schönauer notes. The product is suitable for energy gels, where it is neutral in taste and doesn’t upset the stomach. The product has less of a starch taste too and is also not turbid, which means that it remains clear and easy to consume from the mouthfeeling and texture aspect. “It can be used in a completely way too, for instance in muesli bars. It is an alternative for maltodextrin to have a less sweet option for these products. Even highly skilled athletes are looking for healthy and tasty alternatives,” Schönauer adds. Other innovative ingredient solutions being presented by the company include a functional maltodextrin for sports performance products with a low glycemic index (AGENANOVA) and a vegan/organic egg substitute based on a blend of wheat and corn (Agenovum). 

Click to EnlargeAgrana has innovated with the launch of a new organic potato fiber solution, to meet technical and health demands.  AGRANA as a whole is divided into three segments (Sugar, Starch and Fruit). “We produce sugar from sugar beet. Our most global division of fruit preparations offers semi-finished fruit products for dairy, ice cream and bakery [fruit fillings]. The AGRANA starch division is processing and refining top-quality corn, wheat and potatoes to create a variety of different, highly refined starch and special starch products (e.g. organic and GMO-free starch),” explains Leopold Schönauer, Product Manager at AGRANA Starch tells FoodIngredientsFirst

Oliver Berger, Sales Director Food & Ethanol stresses that AGRANA is the world leader in organic starches. “AGRANA sets a focus on organic which had a strong growth rate in the past years. We gain an advantage in Austria through our heritage in having organic farmers. It is a global business and not limited by geography, however,” he explains.

One of the challenges facing the potato starch segment in Europe this year has been the record-breaking summer droughts. While Berger accepted that AGRANA has been impacted, with a very poor potato harvest, he noted that the impact in Austria was smaller than that felt by northern European growers. “We have also been hit with potato products and potato starch that did not get the fully contracted harvest. It was not as bad as the north of Europe but it was still bad,” he noted.

For Schönauer, the company’s global player position, but relatively small and flexible structure, means that it is easier to offer tailored and organic products. This background has led to the launch of the company’s first potato fiber solution. Should the organic launch prove successful, a conventional agriculture product is a possibility. 

“We are going to start on potato fiber by end of this year, where we focus on organic. The main applications are in bakery, where it is used for fiber enrichment and as well to have positive side effects thereof, like avoiding staling, bind water and reduce retrogradation in bakery products,” he notes.

Due to its well-developed water-binding properties and texturizing characteristics, the insoluble fiber offers a lot of various additional benefits, when adding fiber into food products for fiber enrichment, including meat alternatives.

Interestingly, one of the other key potential applications is the meat alternatives space. Consumers within this ballooning segment often demand clean label products but can be held back by the long ingredient lists that typically accompany them. Food formulators are challenged to bring body and water-binding properties to products largely composed of popular vegetable proteins such as soy, wheat and pea protein while maintaining clean labels. Agenafiber could be used to replace other fibers, modified starches, cellulose fibers and hydrocolloids. “When producing meat alternatives, you usually need to use a lot of modified ingredients. Here this ingredient can target these products to go onto more natural and organic meat alternatives, to add fiber and body and bind water on top. This is all stuff that has been conventionally available for a long time, however, if you really want to go for natural products, which go in line with the vegan trend, this ingredient makes absolute sense to close this gap,” Schönauer explains.

Click to EnlargeLeopold Schönauer, Product Manager (left) and
Oliver Berger, Sales Director Food & Ethanol (right)  at AGRANA Starch 
 

The list of potential applications for the ingredient is long: Bakery, Bread & Cakes, Breakfast Cereals & Cereal Bars, Crackers & Biscuits, Processed Meat & Sausages, Pizza, Tortilla & Wraps, Pasta & Potato Puree, Soups & Sauces Smoothies & Instant Drinks, Pet Food and Animal Feed. 

Several advantages are listed for the ingredient:

High fiber content claim on the label
Retains moisture and slows staling.
Product softness & Mouthfeel enhancement.
Increases shelf-life.
Texture improvement notably in low-fat products.
Stabilization of particles in liquids.
Fast food upgrading.

Also from AGRANA and presented at this year’s HiE New Product Zone is AGENANOVA, a complex carbohydrate source for sports nutrition. “This product is an approach to allow the producers of sports nutrition to use a new kind of maltodextrin or soluble starch to produce energy gels or mass gainers in a more sustainable and consistent way,” explains Schönauer. This product is more complex in structure and less insulin active in most applications. So you have a really constant source of energy during your exercise when compared to dextrose or other maltodextrins,” he adds.

Click to EnlargeAgrana Starch at HiE 2018 (Frankfurt) 

Maltodextrin or especially dextrose in sports nutrition products typically offers a sharp peak of energy followed by a quick crash. AGRANA’s new solution allows sports performers to be more energized after exercise. “In the case of dextrose, it will take a relatively short time before you get back to your initial level or even under your initial blood sugar level. With AGENANOVA you can extend this time. You don’t have such a crash and just settle on your baseline blood sugar level,” Schönauer notes. The product is suitable for energy gels, where it is neutral in taste and doesn’t upset the stomach. The product has less of a starch taste too and is also not turbid, which means that it remains clear and easy to consume from the mouthfeel and texture aspect. “It can be used in a completely way too, for instance in muesli bars. It is an alternative for maltodextrin to have a less sweet option for these products. Even highly skilled athletes are looking for healthy and tasty alternatives,” Schönauer adds. 

“It can be used as an adhesive component too, usually in muesli bars, power bars or savory like bars, for example. This product is an approach to allow the producers of sports nutrition to use a new kind of maltodextrin or soluble starch to produce energy gels, mass gainers or new sport-nutrition products in a more sustainable and consistent way,” explains Schönauer. 

Also at HiE 2018, the company is presenting a vegan egg replacer. The powdered product can be immersed in water and then used like every other liquid egg product, mainly for bakery applications: waffles, biscuits, cookies, cakes etc. Agenovum is based on a mixture of several AGRANA ingredients. “One is mainly based on wheat protein, while another is a gluten-free option based on pregelatinized chickpea flour, which is a unique product for us, for instant hummus and spreads and as a clean label stabilizing component,” says Schönauer. 

The product can have an ethical positioning to address the demands of vegan consumers who do not eat eggs. But there is also an advantage of being able to reduce the costs of bakery products significantly, due to the fact that egg prices got volatile. “At current price levels, this solution could save about 12-28 percent on recipe cost, depending on whether you are using egg powder or liquid egg, or the market you are producing,” Berger notes. 

New consumer market demands coupled with business dynamics mean that value-added starch products can hold potential in entirely new ways. These can include addressing organic and vegan demands, as well as performing from a cost reduction perspective.

By Robin Wyers

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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