The Fi Ingredients exhibition, as you enter the show, looks back with a timeline covering the development of food ingredients and also forward to 2030 when they see new moves such as drinkable perfumes and edible gels becoming a part of everyday life.
My day began meeting David Sargeant, director of flavours specialist Copeland & Sons. He spoke about the need for everyone to cut costs: "Whether companies are based in Spain, Italy, France or Greece, this is a top priority," he said. "Prices of many fruits have risen by as much as 40-45%, yet people won't be held to extremes and will take a robust stance against such prices. There are those opting for synthetic lavender for instance, and opting for cheaper blends. Chinese mint is being mixed with mint from India to bring costs down."
On the Döhler stand, they were talking about the need to reformulate to lower-calorie still drinks. This is particularly in demand in areas such as the Middle East, where levels of diabetes are increasing.
I tasted refreshing, directly brewed iced tea (great as an Earl Grey cold drink). These have been developed in partnership with Plantextrakt, the herbal extracts specialist. Juicy energy with around 10% juice content is also a growth sector, and the company is looking at still drinks with texture such as aloe vera or papaya guava pieces in suspension.
Interest in exotic fruits is increasing, with a fermented coconut water containing pineapple pieces purchased from Marin Gimenez of Spain. The Chinese red date or Jujube (as it's better known) is very popular in Asian markets. Finally from Döhler, the new concept of energy coffee with guarana is expected to gain in global interest.
Solbar has just been acquired by CHS, and I heard about its value in the processed meat sector as it absorbs five times its volume in water. Sausages, burgers, chicken breasts, hot dogs and kebabs are all injected with soy.
Mathieu Dondain of new brand name Nexira (an amalgamation of CNI Colloides, Bio Serae and NutrProcess) spoke about the growth of this family firm and its provision of acacia gum as a super emulsifier. It delivers transparent beverages through its Crystal Pure brand with a low-calorie content.
"We pride ourselves on being clean label and ethically and environmentally aware," he explained. "This crop from the 'gum belt' of the Sahel desert covers 15-16 of the poorest countries including Sudan, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Senegal. In the dry season when there's no other income, the acacia harvest of 60,000-70,000 metric tonnes involves millions of trees and is vital to the population here."
The Molda stand gave me the chance to indulge in new-style Florentines – this time not made with the traditional almonds and dark chocolate but with seeds and fruit pieces.
West Europe sales director Richard Moraly explained how the company has developed a new method of baking at low temperatures so the seeds don't burn. "We also have a new spray drying technology for yeast-free sourdough bread. which is seeing a resurgence", he said, along with granulates of espresso coffee for use in confectionery and bakery products.
Dr Paulo Tamagni, marketing director for Frutarom, spoke about the importance of appearance stimulating taste before purchase, but taste being critical, of course.
"Consumers are looking for clean label and natural products," he explained, "but taste is critical too. We're seeing a move from sweet to savoury solutions and increasing use of fresh herbs."
Dr Rudy Wouters of the new Beneo Technology Centre underlined how customers are looking for fat reduction and sugar reduction solutions in beverages, confectionery and dairy products, and of course still expect great taste.
"Consumers are willing to pay more for balanced nutrition," he explained, "and we can help achieve that. We predict more interest in tooth-friendly chocolate and fibre concepts for the elderly."
The day ended with a sparkling press reception at the Jacquemart-André Museum in the Champs-Élysées, celebrating the launch of Nexira. This fabulous building was showing a collection of the works of Fra Angelico of Florence – such a contrast to the modernities of the day at the Parc des expositions, and more than 500 guests enjoyed superb hospitality and the most delicious hors d'oeuvres.
Claire Phoenix is managing editor of Beverage Innovation magazine. Subscribe here.
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