Demand for natural and clean label ingredients is continuing to grow, particularly in the wake of COVID-19 as consumers become more aware of the link between food, nutrition and health.
“Looking at the market, we can see a drive towards natural across multiple different segments, [such as] natural colours, natural flavouring, and natural sweeteners,” said Tony Gay, Head of Technical Sales and New Product Development for Nutrition. “Particularly, however, we’ve seen demand for natural antioxidants for protection of foods in substitute of synthetic ingredients. People are looking for cleaner labels and natural ingredients as opposed to chemical-looking names on packaging.”
Functional ingredient supplier Prinova is meeting this demand with its latest ingredient launch called PlantGuard. The natural botanical-derived preservatives are available in water-soluble powder and oil-soluble liquid and are made of a proprietary blend of natural plant-based extracts.
Tests show that the natural ingredients perform well at extending shelf life and reducing rancidity compared to commonly used synthetic preservatives, such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). They also help protect the colour and flavour of the final products.
The water-soluble PlantGuard antioxidant is ideal for use in certain meat products such as sliced ham and salami, pork sausages and other prepared meats. The water soluble can also improve the shelf life of breadsticks, rusks, cookies and mayonnaise. While the oil-based formulation is ideal for applications such as, vegetable oils, crackers and potato chips and even Italian pesto.
The ingredients, which will be officially launched at Food Ingredients Europe this year, have a clean label declaration as they can be listed as ‘natural flavour preparations’. However, they do not provide a strong flavour profile and can be used in both sweet and savoury applications.
According to Gay, Prinova created the extracts as a result of direct customer interest and they were formulated with specific industry requirements in mind.
Although the cost in use may be more than artificial additives, consumer demand is such that the cost is not prohibitive.
“People want this kind of option […] and manufacturers will broaden their customer base by having a more natural ingredients deck,” Gay said. “The quantities used are very small so the end product won’t be substantially more based on using this ingredient over a synthetic one.”
“Clean label is quite a broad term, it doesn’t encompass just one area, and companies are looking to take things a step further into a cleaner approach,” Gay added. “It’s a trend we’re seeing across Europe but a couple of countries are leading the way, the UK being one of the primary markets, and also Germany, which is also going down the natural antioxidant route.”
The botanical ingredients used within the PlantGuard formulation have been promoted for their health benefits for many years and are used in nutritional supplements thanks to their polyphenol content and antioxidant properties. Although Prinova is not making any health claims in this respect, brands may benefit from this positive consumer perception.