Developing Natural Foods & Beverages

Originally Published: September 19, 2013
Last Updated: February 18, 2021
DEVELOPING Natural Food & Beverages 2013 CLC Blog FEATURE

clean label conference logo-300X300X72The march towards developing natural foods & beverages with simplified ingredient legends and positioned as “natural” in the market place is not new. As R&D/ QC Director of a commercial salad, Mexican entrée and snacks manufacturing company in the early 1980s, I reported to the president of the company. His own background was in marketing with P&G. My department was directed to, if at all possible, formulate foods that “his wife would recognize.” This is a challenge for the food industry because consumers also want good economic value, which includes a decent shelf life to last through a distribution system, safe food products, decent tasting, healthful, and so on.

With that challenge in mind, topics and speakers for the 2013 Clean Label Conference, October 29-30, Oak Brook, Ill. were invited for their ability to provide practical, “how-to” advice in the formulation and development of natural, simplified, clean label products. The following lists them in alphabetical order.

— Claudia D. O’Donnell, MS, MBA, Co-owner Global Food Forums

2013 Clean Label Conference, October 29-30, Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, Ill.


GFF clover leaf bullet pointBringing Culinology to Clean Label Development – How and Why it Matters –Mark Crowell, Principal Culinologist, CuliNex, LLC

Product development is a complex, expensive process fraught with risk and uncertainty. Developing organic and natural products is a “whole ‘nother cat”. How do you maximize your chances of success on even the most difficult projects? Through the practice of Culinology! Learn from case studies and real world insights how a Culinology project approach is much more than the sum of its Culinary Art and Food Science parts.

GFF clover leaf bullet point Consumer & Market Trends: Opportunities for Simple, Clean & Pure AboundSteve French, managing partner, NMI

In today’s overcomplicated society, one of the hottest trends in consumer packaged goods is simplicity. And the notion of simplicity can impact many areas of an organization, including product development, marketing, manufacturing, and packaging among others. This session will delve into the complexity of consumer expectations and how they have changed over time, exploring such topics as natural, clean label, organic, GMO’s – and much more. Based on NMI’s extensive consumer research databases, the presentation will provide specific insight into opportunities for ‘simplified’ foods and beverages. Come explore tomorrow’s trends today!

GFF clover leaf bullet point From Wal-Mart to Whole Foods: What are Shoppers Looking For? — Linda Gilbert, Founder/CEO, EcoFocus Worldwide, LLC.  

Everyone would agree that product attributes are fundamental to food and beverage purchases. What is less known is how the labels of the products that groceries stock on their shelves not only influence what shoppers buy, but also have a bearing on a grocer’s own credentials with shoppers. Using multi-year trend data, this presentation looks at what is important to consumers as segmented by the grocery chains they patronize—from the natural and mainstream retailers to the big box chains. Discover the importance that shoppers at different stores place on various label attributes and natural choices. Find out how products on the shelves impact shoppers’ perceptions of the grocery retailers and their shopping behavior. Learn how food processors can help meet the challenge and the opportunity that clean labels offer retailers. Shopper segments studied include those frequenting big box stores (Wal-Mart, Costco and Target), regional chains (Publix, Safeway and Kroger) and natural grocers (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s).

GFF clover leaf bullet point Opportunities and Limitations of Natural AntimicrobialsKathleen Glass, Associate Director, Food Research Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The long-term trend towards less-processed and more natural-appearing foods presents a fundamental challenge; food safety concerns often increase. This presentation looks at current research and practical applications of clean-label antimicrobial ingredients with a focus on cultured dairy products and RTE meats. An update on components from bacterium and fermented dairy-derived ingredients, along with a brief overview of plant-derived components, will be discussed.

GFF clover leaf bullet point A Food Scientist’s Approach to Working with Organics — Sharon Herzog, MS, Director of R&D, Country Choice Organic

A multitude of challenges present themselves in the development of traditional processed, packaged foods and beverages. When the goal is to formulate a product with organic components, the “tool chest” of functional ingredients narrows rapidly as one moves to organic-compatible, certified organic and even non-GMO certified ingredients. How do these ingredient categories different and what are some formulation strategies to create successful consumer-friendly products?

GFF clover leaf bullet point Packaging Does Much More than “Contain” – It Defines Your 1st Sale — Kenneth S. Marsh, Packaging Consultant and Executive Director, Woodstock Institute for Science in Service to Humanity

In the development of a new food product, packaging is often thought of last, and often as a cost item that must be minimized.  Many good products, especially those positioned as natural, have failed because of less than optimal packaging. Packaging choices impact ingredient options, shelf life, distribution requirements, marketing impact and more.  Packaging, for example, can reduce need for antioxidants.  This presentation provides an overview of the role that packaging can play in the successful launch of safe, cost-effective food products and present insights gained from real-world examples on how packaging offers opportunities far beyond its cost.

GFF clover leaf bullet point Emerging and Applied Clean Label Starch Technologies  — Sakharam K. Patil, President, S.K. Patil & Associates

Starch has long played a crucial role in food acceptability. Historically, modified starches were developed to help manufacturers answer consumer demands for economical, yet superior textured products. As attention turns to “pantry-friendly” labels, momentous growth is expected in the use of simply labeled, yet sophisticated starches. Dr. Sakharam Patil’s presentation discusses the current and emerging technologies behind physically and enzymatically altered starches offering clean label opportunities. Practical advice on applications and evaluation techniques will be provided.

GFF clover leaf bullet point When Natural Isn’t Good For You: Managing Food Safety, Litigation & Regulatory Risk — Anthony “Tony” Pavel, Partner, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP

The challenges are daunting. Food companies offer consumers economical, convenient, great tasting, safe and nutritious foods with availability never before known to man. However, careful consideration must be made when communicating the natural positioning of such products. The characteristics of the ingredients, processing and even packaging used, regulatory guidelines and regulatory environment, as well as the increasingly litigiousness of “consumer” groups must all be assessed in the development and marketing of good-for-you foods and beverages. This session will explore the legal and regulatory implications stemming from the interrelated issues of food safety, ingredient labeling and claims as the industry works to meet consumer demands for less processing and fewer ingredients, while expecting longer shelf life and enhanced nutrition.

GFF clover leaf bullet pointFlavorings: Clean and Friendly — Gary Reineccius, PhD, Professor and Department Head, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota

The sensory experience on eating is the key to market success. While great health claims may sell the product once, few will continue to purchase the product if it does not satisfy sensory expectations. This presentation first will explore the options in natural flavorings, for example, is the flavoring natural, all natural, or “from the named source,” and what does each designation mean. Flavoring composition will be linked to the current labeling laws. Emphasis will be on how food formulators can work within these laws to get clean, customer friendly labels. Time will also be devoted to the costs associated with clean labels: nothing is free.)

GFF clover leaf bullet point  Natural Antioxidants: Maximizing Effectiveness for Shelf-life ExtensionFereidoon Shahidi, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland

The use of antioxidants for stabilization of foods and beverages has been in practice for shelf-life extension and quality preservation purposes. The drive toward products with consumer-friendly ingredients has created great interest in natural antioxidants, mainly from plant sources as well as certain processing by-products. In addition to structural characteristics of the ingredients themselves, the system in which the antioxidants are used and storage conditions of products are important factors that must be considered in different applications. How can one maximize antioxidant function, and what are the promising areas of researcher for such ingredients? These and other relevant questions will be considered from both the theoretical and practical angles and their implications discussed.

GFF clover leaf bullet point Strategies and Insights into Clean Label Development — Leslie Skarra, CEO, Merlin Development

More is required in the formulation of clean label products than the replacement of technical-sounding ingredients with natural-sounding ones. In order to best optimize such consumer-friendly foods and beverages, an understanding of product processing and packaging is required.  A comprehensive approach to developing cost-effective, clean label products with long term stability and replicable quality will be provided. Formulations tips, tricks and tactics will also be suggested.

GFF clover leaf bullet point Taste Physiology and Considerations in Sweetener Choices –Alex Woo, Managing Director and Founder, W2O Food Innovation

The desire for sweetness is inborn in humans. The subject of label-friendly sweetness enhancement in food and beverage formulations is complex. An update will be given on the emerging understanding of taste perception and how it can assist in the design of clean-flavored, simple products. Insights will be provided into the use of sweetener and taste enhancer ingredients from thaumatin to stevia, from cane sugar to fruit concentrates and plant extracts.

GFF clover leaf bullet point Going Au Naturel: Coloring Considerations –Ronald Wrolstad, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Food Science Emeritus, Oregon State University

While neither the US nor European Union has defined natural colorings or natural foods, when it comes to food colorants, consumers increasingly have certain expectations when reading a product’s ingredient legend. Naturally derived colorings provide consumer appeal and perhaps even health benefits. However, working with these ingredients often proves challenging due to differences in stability, functionality, sourcing, range of hues and cost when compared to their synthetic alternatives. From anthocyanins and betalains to caramel and chlorophyllin, this presentation will discuss the limitations and realties of replacing artificial food dyes with “natural” colorants approved for use in food and beverages.

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