Two fundamental characteristics of foodstuffs generally appear to be their flavour, preferably defined as brand specific and easily recognisable, and their texture, preferably defined as providing a unique mouthfeel.
For the food industry, it concretely means that the aforementioned sensory properties may represent the unique selling proposition of a foodstuff, which serves to differentiate this product from the competitors’ product. These properties are evidence of quality, the origin of the components and consumption benefits of a product such as criteria that personalise the brand and, at the end of the day, may positively influence the buying behaviour of the customer.
Therefore, a special interest of food manufacturers lays in standardising their individual product recipes, that means in finding a way to make the taste and texture of their final product unique and yet consistent as well as reproducible. As far as this target is concerned, the use of natural raw materials in the industrial production of foods comes along with as many benefits as challenges.
Natural, from renewable or sustainable supply source, preferably unprocessed such as clean-label or from organic-certified origin are criteria that gain trust and popularity among most consumers. The positive image transported by such raw materials, plus the manifold application possibilities they offer across all food production sectors, make them attractive ingredients for food manufacturers.
Consumers’ attitudes, habits and trends on all continents have evolved drastically throughout the last few decades, leading to a tremendous diversification of foodstuffs and the forms under which they are commonly offered such as solid, liquid, dehydrated, granulated, instant-soluble, creamy, jellified, frozen, freeze-dried. Some consumers want their food as naturally-tasting as possible, others want it flavoured, salted, sweet, smoked, sour, umami or sweet-sour. The flavouring trends have grown at an exponential rate in the last ten years.
It only takes half an hour to make a quick store-check in a department store and see the product horn of plenty that is offered in each food segment. Consumption habits also vary according to the way of life. More convenience food is eaten in big urban communities than in agricultural regions where people tend to consume products from their local supply sources. Yet convenience food does not mean an extensive use of stabilisers and preservatives only, these convenience products also promote their unique taste and long-lasting fresh texture.
Other trends concern health-conscious consumers, age-relevant nutrition, dietary products for special physical needs, vegetarians and vegans, religion-connected quality criteria, products from ecological sources only, respect and defence of the environment, that means preferences that have created new requirements from the consumers to the manufacturers, and hence, from the manufacturers to their sourcing suppliers.
For an ingredient supplier and producer, to respect and fulfil all the requirements and expectations is considered both as a challenging task and a motivating chance to move ahead in the field of ingredient innovation by bridging the factual gaps between natural raw materials, ingredients in standardised forms and customised ingredient formulations.
On the other hand, natural raw materials from plant or animal origin are naturally subject to fluctuations that may influence the physical quality as well as the sensory and functional properties of the respective raw material. By definition, they vary according to their geographical origin, the harvesting conditions, the seasonal and climatic conditions; they also depend on geopolitical factors. For example, honey varies according to the botanical source, light or dark colour, mild or strong taste and odour, liquid or crystalline structure according to the blossoms, plants or trees from which pollen is gathered by the bees.
Gum arabic (or acacia gum) varies according to the Acacia species: light-coloured gum from the Acacia senegal species, dark-coloured gum from Acacia seyal trees from which the natural hydrocolloid is harvested. The taste of liquorice extract varies according to the nature of the soils in the countries of origin in which the liquorice roots naturally grow – the percentage of glycyrrhizin contained in the roots defines the flavour of the liquorice extract that may taste sweet and mild or be strongly aromatic or even show a pungent note.
As for the standardisation of industrial production processes and recipe formulations in order to typecast the finished product with consistent quality features, this creates a rather restrictive frame of production requirements that do not allow many natural variations of key criteria such as taste, odour, appearance, structure and texture in the end product. Concretely, this frame of production requirements is not to be ignored by food manufacturers as it corresponds to the increasing globalisation of A) sensory definitions, B) automatisation of processes and equipments, C) customers’ expectations.
This, of course, occurs on a worldwide scale, as multinational food groups and their decentralized production units are present on all continents, where they offer the same product range that comprises the above mentioned typecast finished products in terms of global brand marketing.
Putting all these requirements together, one understands the major challenge that an ingredient supplier is facing. To name it: building a sustainable bridge from the natural raw materials through to tailor-made ingredients that fulfil the customer’s specific requirements with regard to quality criteria, product properties, production process and marketing policy.
To achieve this target, the ingredient supplier works methodically to standardise the aforementioned individual ingredient solutions and safeguard the in-house developed recipes in order to secure their permanent availability, which in turn allows the production continuity of high-quality finished products and the development of new products. This, logically, is a process-in-progress as the creation of individually designed ingredients, corresponding to specific brand profiles, never comes to an end.
On the contrary, observing the evolution of worldwide consumption trends, geopolitical phenomena, production processes and marketing rules, is a steady source of knowledge and inspiration.
Norevo supplies natural raw materials such as gum arabic, honey and licorice extract. These natural ingredients are offered to the food manufacturers in standardised and easy-to-handle forms. At the same time, Norevo develops customised or tailor-made qualities to meet the specific requirements of the respective industrial food producer. Norevo strives to provide a technological added value in terms of shorter production time, improved process-performing ability, exact match of the expected sensory profile, and, at the end of the production chain an optimised finished product or even a better production yield.
For example, the gum arabic pieces are ground down to easy-to-handle, purified granules or pulverised into a quickly soluble spray-powder. This natural hydrocolloid is unique as to its manifold application range as a stabiliser, binder, emulsifier, encapsulating and coating agent in food products, as well as in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Each industrial application requires specific properties. The supplier’s responsibility is to define the exact gum arabic quality that is needed to obtain the expected functionality in the end product and, as a corollary, to produce and supply the adequate gum quality.
Honey is available in its natural floral variety for table consumption or, to meet the growingly demanding industrial needs, is supplied in homogenised, purified, liquefied and standardised lots to be pumped in the production batches of industrial manufacturers of bakery products, snacks, confectioneries, flavours and beverages, convenience food, dairies, meat products, baby-food, dietary and sport nutrition products as well as in all types of dips, sauces and marinades.
Further applications of honey are to be found in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors. Wherever and whenever it is used, honey means sweetness and flavour. It can also be used for its natural colouring properties. The added value of customised honey blends consists of easy and clean handling, a more convenient production process due to a simple pumping into the production cycle, a perfect sensory match of sweetness, taste, flavour, colour and texture according to the manufacturer’s definition of his product sensory profile.
Along with the product itself, we share and provide a long-standing experience and knowledge of the worldwide sourcing countries and their specificity, the stringent quality regulations around this natural bee product as well as our flexible ability to modulate and adapt our production of customised lots to the versatile requirements of the food industry, especially regarding the key criteria that are the colour, taste, odour, humidity, viscosity, texture and the consistency. Quality control of both the raw honey and the batch production of blends is carried out partly in-house, partly in specialised external labs.
Another development example is liquorice extract. The basic range of liquorice extract types – blocks, granules, spray-dried powder, paste – has been diversified to fit in various product recipes and production processes in which it is used for its flavouring and sweetening properties, in some cases even for its colouring power. Users of licorice extract belong to different industrial branches such as confectionery, flavours, bakery, sauces and marinades, beverages (soft drinks, syrups, liquors), cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Obviously, their sensory requirements are different too. Cooperating closely with the research and development (R&D) departments of our customers, a sensory profile of the respective target product is determined along with the production parameters to be cared for. This data collection gives us the opportunity to provide the customer with the exact quality of liquorice extract with regard to the adequate supply form, its taste and odour, possibly its colouring properties, its solubility or mix-in ability.
If a customer wants a liquorice extract with an admixture of sugar(s), sugar substitutes, ammonium chloride or aromatic extracts, this will be individually developed for him. If another customer wishes a sugar-reduced liquorice extract or a low-dust liquorice extract powder, or a free-flowing liquid paste, we will develop, produce and supply it accordingly, providing a ready-to-use ingredient to the client.
The same care applies to the professional range of Confectionery Performers (CP), that is to say ingredients from own production for specific applications in various types of confectioneries such as pan-coated goods, gums, jellies, chewy confectioneries, sour sweets, chocolate-/sugar-/sugarfree-coated dragees as well as candies belonging to the organic, kosher, halal, vegetarian and vegan confectionery segments.
Their functionalities range from gumming, pre-coating, coating, glazing, sealing, whitening, to souring, oiling, anti-sticking and texturising. The recipes of the CP basic range are regularly revised and/or amended according to customers’ requests for new applications, the parameters of which require a new tailor-made CP recipe in order to match the exact quality profile of the end product. The field of confectionery is a very large commercial sector on a worldwide scale, which means that the required volume of ingredients grows as much as their versatility does according to the increasingly diversified consumption.
This evolution demands great flexibility on the supplier’s side, not only to maintain enough buffer stocks of raw materials but also to keep pace with the swift changes within the range of end products and, of course, to adapt the development work and production rhythm of tailor-made ingredients to this market evolution.
Sustainable, future-oriented evolution within the field of ingredients encompasses all steps from the sourcing of natural raw materials to the processing and, hence, the production of value-added ingredients to simplify and streamline customers’ production processes. New ingredient requirements from the customer’s side mean new ingredient developments on the supplier’s side.
Not only do we accompany the product creations of the worldwide clientele but we anticipate the evolution of consumption trends due to a long-established presence in the international market and a close contact with buyers, production and R&D people at manufacturing companies throughout the food sector. The company-owned set-up of production units enables worldwide supply and a close connection with the customers, which is a key asset when product developments have to be discussed and started on the spot.
A systematic approach of consumers’ needs and habits, the rising awareness for environmental issues, the stringency of quality controls along the whole chain from sourcing to sale and after-sale, are elements that go hand in hand with the product knowledge, the technological know-how and the production capacity of a globally responsible ingredient supplier.
The connection between the words natural raw materials, standardised ingredients and individual ingredient solutions is not fortuitous. It corresponds to a clear target which is an all-round and yet customer-related service for the supply of quality ingredients in the form of performing solutions.