In the quest for healthy, tasty products, modern consumers attach increasing importance to the origin of the ingredients used to produce their food. From oils to fats, to seasonings and condiments, they want authentic taste through natural flavour ingredients.
In their annual trend-spotting, research groups Mintel and Datamonitor identified natural and clean label flavours and ingredients, as well as low salt, fast innovation, adventurous and ethnic tastes, stability of quality and mitigation against fluctuations. Mintel further reports that consumer focus is definitely on ‘natural’ nutrition and products incorporating inherently natural, fresh, wholesome, balanced nutrition are increasingly popular in the savoury goods sector.
Leading the way towards natural foods across the Asia Pacific region is China, a country known for its lax food safety standards but is now working to shake off the negative image.
Going With The Flow
||Image by Christian Cable, Lancaster, UK|
The cooking and cooling of prepared foods is an area of particular interest for food processors that incorporate pasta, rice, vegetables and dry beans into their food products. Uniformity in cooking and cooling is critical to achieve a refrigerated, frozen or canned meal that will have the desirable texture and taste when it is later reheated for consumption.
The blanched pasta cannot be too stiff or too soft. The fettuccine, linguine, tagliatelle and spaghetti cannot be stuck together or damaged. The cooked rice should keep its texture, have the right amount of free starch or stickiness and maintain its kernel integrity. Dry beans should not be bursting or split. And vegetables should have the desired firmness and consistency. Without a highly effective cooking and cooling capability, these products cannot be obtained with a high degree of uniformity.
Along with improving the precision of cooking and cooling parameters, food processors are always looking for ways to reduce process costs, and, more recently, achieve a higher level of sustainability in their operations.