“Translating trends into products”Published: 06-09-2016, | Member: Ruitenberg Ingredients
From salt reduction to sustainable proteins, at Ruitenberg Ingredients the latest nutrition trends are translated into innovative, tailor-made solutions for food industry clients. “We have created our own niche in the high-value market”, says R&D Manager Marian Verbruggen.
Established as a potato-starch trader in 1938, Ruitenberg has developed into an innovator; a company creating unique, original solutions for a wide range of manufacturers. “One of our qualities is bringing together ingredients that provide optimum functionality in the processing of meat, snacks, bakery and confectionary”, explains Verbruggen. “Sausage casings, liquid smoke, licorice-extracts and powder for ready-to-use premixes for filling croissants or vol-au-vents are just a few examples.”
Ruitenberg sees collaborating with other ingredient suppliers, process equipment manufacturers, knowledge institutions and, of course, customers as essential to success. “Working together, we extend our reach beyond tailor-made solutions for our customers, to developing and marketing totally new products.”
Social trends, such as the need for salt reduction and more-sustainable proteins, focus the company’s innovation strategy. “Increasingly, customers demand premixes that enhance salt reduction in their products, while others are interested in developing partly or fully plant-based alternatives to meat products.” Another issue – mainly consumer driven – is the reduction of E-numbers in food products.
Ruitenberg recently collaborated in a project examining the effect of salt reduction in food products. “We investigated how to reduce salt levels without compromising taste in filled snacks, by replacing salt with novel potassium chloride products. These prototypes were blind-tested by 150 consumers”, explains Verbruggen. The project has, in turn, changed Ruitenberg’s product development strategy. “We found out that it is sufficient – for some of the products in our portfolio – to replace the salt with ‘normal’ potassium chloride, whereas others need additional taste-masking.”
Ruitenberg is also leaping ahead in the area of more-sustainable proteins. “Together with NIZO food research we are looking at a novel technology that gives plant-proteins a structure similar to that of meat”, says the R&D manager. “The innovation was NIZO’s, and we are developing it into commercial products on an exclusive basis.” This new technology is flexible with respect to protein sources and avoids the need for extrusion to create ‘meaty’ structures. The product range, called RudinProVega, is expected to launch by the end of this year.
Verbruggen expects the trends of salt reduction, sustainable proteins and clean labels to remain important for some years to come. “Companies are aware that investing in these issues is essential, especially now that there are tools and technologies available to do so. Stepwise salt reduction, for example, has already proven an effective strategy, and currently-available sustainable-protein sources are constantly improving in purity and usability.”
The E-number hype worries her sometimes. “Often, we are asked to replace safety-approved additives with plant-based alternatives that have only undergone simple testing”, Verbruggen explains. “Sometimes I wonder whether these are as safe and effective in, for example, preventing spoilage, as conventional additives. Our ethos is to test as much as we can and we advise our customers to put even more focus on testing the quality and shelf life of their products.”
According to Verbruggen, “Sugar reduction and the increase in vegetable consumption will be the next big issues for the food industry, and at Ruitenberg we are ready for this challenge.”