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Article: Beyond Thickening and Texturizing

Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery
Author: Romy Schafer, BNP Publishing

Mel Festejo, Chief Operating Officer at American Key Food Products (AKFP), Closter, N.J., agrees that gluten-free products remain a top consumer demand. “The gluten-free trend has surprised most industry observers by remaining strong, showing resilient growth in a number of areas,” he says. “Even food manufacturers not known for any specially formulated, gluten-free products have made it a standard practice to label their inherently gluten-free products (potato chips, for instance) as gluten-free.”

During the past two years, AKFP introduced the Empure line of potato- and pea-based, clean-label, allergen-free starches, developed by Emsland Group in Germany. “Since potatoes are gluten-free, and Emsland uses only nongenetically modified potatoes compliant with [European Union] standards, these clean-label starches are intended for food products that need to be any or all of these: Clean-label; non-GMO; and gluten-free,” Festejo explains.

Empure potato and pea starches come in cook-up and pre-gelatinized versions and can be used as thickeners and texturizers in fruit-filling applications, sauces, gravies and soups. AKFP is also developing new iterations of its gluten-free cassava flour, in which the properties of the tapioca starch content will be tailored for specific baking or extruded applications.

AKFP plans to introduce a new line of potato flakes to the U.S. market this year. “Clean-label versions of these specially manufactured potato derivatives are ideal for the production of healthy baked snacks and other extruded products that are low in reducing sugars, asparagine and glycoalkaloids,” Festejo explains.

Because consumer trends, raw material availability, costs and a host of other yet-unknown factors will continue to impact the food industry, bakers, snack producers and their ingredients suppliers will continue to work together to develop new gums and starches.

“The current clean-label starches, which notch higher than native starches in performance criteria, still cannot match the functionalities of traditional chemically-modified starches,” says Festejo. “Further research into better clean-label starches will definitely be on the plate of many starch manufacturers.”

In addition, Emsland Group recently developed a flour from waxy winter barley to leverage its high beta glucan content together with its fat-binding and emulsifying properties and its freeze-thaw stability. “As it has been the expedient option in gluten-free baking where different flours and starches are blended for more complex applications such as bread-making, there could be similar opportunities to develop blends of different starches in other applications,” he adds.