So, you’ve been in negotiations with wholesale buyers for months. They say they love your products, but you can’t get them to place that first order and start carrying your line. You know that if they took a chance on you, your products would fly off the shelves, but you don’t know how to get them to take that leap…

It’s time for Retail Ready, an online course specifically designed to help amazing producers land and grow amazing wholesale accounts.

Enrollment is now open! Check out the Details here: www.alliball.com/retail-ready-course-waitlist

Retail Ready will run again from August 28 to Sept. 22, 2017.

Get A $100 dollar discount by using the code SCIENCE17 at checkout! 

For producers looking to understand the behind the scenes of wholesale, gain clarity on what a Buyer thinks through as they consider new product lines for their shelves, finally decide if they’re ready for adding a broker or distributor, and confidently outline their steps for growth in 2017, Retail Ready is here for you.

After completing Retail Ready, you will:

  • Finally have a business plan that came together easily, without blood, sweat and tears, and guides you in decision making for your business
  • Have a clear game plan on how to increase your wholesale accounts- outlining what to focus on first, and how to make the right choices the first time around
  • Have Buyers knocking on your door, asking to bring in your product line
  • Get wholesale accounts to say “Yes!” to carrying your products after the very first interaction- no more back and forth for weeks, wondering when they’ll bring in your brand
  • Understand what makes killer marketing material- shelf talkers, promotional material and a sell sheet- and be proud when you see them on the shelf
  • Articulate and leverage what makes your product stand out on the shelf & finally gain understanding on who is actually buying your product… plus how to use that information to gain more sales
  • Happily make sales calls and pitch to new accounts, knowing that you sound polished & confident as you talk about your brand
  • Understand whether adding a broker or distribution is the right choice for you in your current stage of business – so that you continue to grow and start making money
  • Totally feel comfortable negotiating wholesale costs with Buyers, and have a clear picture of how much you’re actually making in your business
  • Have other food producers contacting you, asking “How did you do it?” as they see you gain more and more wholesale accounts

This four week, live online course runs fromAugust 28 to Sept. 22, 2017 and is uniquely positioned to help you rapidly assess, understand & grow your food business through homework assignments, conference calls, a private online group, and unlimited email support.

Join Food Industry Consultant and former Bi-Rite Market Grocery Buyer Allison Ball this fall to take your business to the next level.

Get A $100 dollar discount by using the code SCIENCE17 at checkout! 

Every year the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) hosts a culinary conference like no other. The Worlds of Flavor has been going on since 1999 and next year is their 20th anniversary event! Every year the show hosts about 600 like-minded flavor seeking culinary pioneers- including restaurant chain executive chefs, Food scientists, R&D professionals, food writers and educators. For three days we mingle, watch demonstrations, participate in workshops and then wander the CIA barrel room that is filled with sponsors demonstrating and serving food as it relates to the culinary topic of that year.

Past shows typically cover a category of food like “street food” or “comfort food”- but there have also been a few years that focused specifically on one countries cuisine like Worlds of Flavor Japan (2010) and my favorite Worlds of Flavor- Spain (2006). Spain was a very special Worlds of Flavor event because I lived in Barcelona back in 1987-so the foods demonstrated at that CIA event brought me back to those days—the days when romesco, gazpacho and paella was the typical and common culinary fare of the day.

More often than not though, the CIA tends to group together food categories that fall into multiple countries. This allows them to demonstrate the culinary diversity within a specific food space. This year the theme was “Casual By Design” Fast casual, upscale casual, street food, food hall casual, world casual, quality casual in food trucks, supermarkets and home delivery services. This allowed the guests to experience world class food from across the world that was diverse in its origins but all shared a common theme of casual.

I have now attended almost every World of Flavors conference since 2006- so I am pretty familiar with the general process of how this conference works and how to get the most out of the sessions and live cooking events! The 3-day conference always starts off with the registration and opening global flavor discovery reception on the herb terrace. This year the reception featured dishes the guests chefs like Chris Consentino, Asha Gomez, Jody Eddy and Cara Mangini. The opening tasting session doesn’t last long though (so don’t arrive late!) and the next part of the conference is the general session with keynote speakers and culinary demonstrations. This year we got to hear the keynote speaker K.F. Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, a company dedicated to the celebration of Asian food, culture and lifestyles. A former photojournalist, he publishes food guides, a television series, and has built a 15,000 square food Asian Food Village in Manila, Philippines. K.F. Seetoh amused the crowd with stories about casual food, what it means and how it all started. The general sessions continued on till 7 pm with demonstrations on “Upscale Roots-Leveraging Lessons from Fine Dining for Casual Restaurants” by chef Erik Ramirez from the famed Llama Inn in Brooklyn, Niklas Ekstedt, Jonathan Wu, Chris Cosentino and then more demonstrations on “What the Market Wants Now- Business and Culinary Strategies for a Multi Model Restaurant”. The entire general session can be viewed online here– so you can experience it almost as well as we did (minus the eating samples)

After all that food demo watching, the hunger kicks in and we all go to the World Marketplace for the tasting/dinner in the Vintners Hall of Fame Barrel Room. This is the 1.5 hours of walking around, visiting all the chefs at their sponsored demo stalls, tasting big and small bites and drinking delicious wine. I take lots of photos during this tasting, you can view my photos of the opening barrel night here:
https://goo.gl/photos/UmzWJAbjkhsdxRHJA

Day two of the conference was a full day of watching, eating and learning, starting with the breakfast sponsored by Minors (I am sorry to say I overslept and missed the breakfast but I did have a wonderful bacon and egg croissant sandwich in St. Helena-check it out!

I made it back in time for sessions on Building Dishes Around Great broths- Techniques From French to Asian Cuisines for Maximum Flavor Layering— with demonstrations by Michael Gulotta, Maxime Bilet and Einav Gefen.

After our selected workshops (there were multiple to choose from both in the kitchen as demo’s and as seminars) There were then more general sessions and then.. my favorite.. back to the barrel room for lunch. The World Marketplace event on Thursday used to take place in the evening but the CIA understands that we don’t want to miss out on all the great restaurants in the PM so now we have the marketplace at noon. I ate like it was dinner though! Check out my Thursday afternoon photos here:
https://goo.gl/photos/k42Fqd7BepV8YyAR7

Right after lunch- we had the dessert back in the general session room. I had to try at least one of each!

So many desserts….

I was so full that I myself did not go out to dinner. Later that night though I did get to snack on mini bags of almonds and pistachios that the sponsor Pom Wonderful provided.

Day Three- the last day! The early breakfast featured recipes by Chef Ina Pinkey- we ate that as we watched General Session X Fresh Approaches for Casual-Flavor seekers in the Asian kitchen. We then had our breakout sessions and of course back to the barrel room for our third big feeding! My photos of day three are here: https://goo.gl/photos/MzKY2m69nM1EzcEG7

And then it was over. A big takeaway was that casual can be whatever you want it to be and all countries have casual. Fine dining is out, casual dining is in—but don’t confuse casual with simple—from what I experienced- the casual dishes are just as complex as the fine dining ones- from their flavor layering to presentation! Casual dining is derived not only from traditional cuisine but the younger generation of up and coming chefs bring their innovative versions of casual to the table.

Lots of foods that we buy can last a very long time, like thermally processed canned foods, diet soda, those protein shakes that they sell in the shelf stable cardboard boxes, and dry packaged items like spaghetti and rice. Those are the long lasting items—but there are many food items that don’t last a long time like fresh baked goods, meat, vegetables and fruit. These items can spoil fairly quickly when they are exposed to air, moisture, heat and other microorganism friendly weather conditions.

Most microorganisms that cause spoilage in food are classified as bacteria, yeast or mold. Bacteria are tiny single-celled organisms that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Bacterial growth cannot normally be seen, but the resulting damage that occurs when spoilage bacteria grow in food (bad odors and flavors, physical changes, etc.) is how we are able to detect that spoilage has occurred. Yeast and mold are both members of the fungi family, and are the cause of more visible spoilage in foods. Spoilage caused by yeast and mold can be seen easily as it grows and spreads on the surface of a food product. Mold is often seen as a fuzzy colored mass, while yeast will display itself as a white to pink/red circle on the spoiled food.

But how do these microorganisms get into your food in the first place? The microorganisms that are capable of spoiling food are ubiquitous in nature. They grow in the soil, land and air and also live on the skins of fruits, vegetables, animals and humans. They live inside the intestinal tracts of animals and can grow on improperly sanitized kitchen equipment with leftover residual food from the last production run. They can be transported directly to food via unwashed hands and dirty utensils. Spoilage organisms seek out opportunities to invade the flesh of any plant or animal tissue that can provide the specific nutrients and growth conditions that they need to survive. People who prepare food for consumption need to make sure they minimize the environmental conditions that promote microorganism growth. Generally speaking, products that have lots of moisture like meat, fruit and juices should be kept refrigerated. This will dramatically slow down microorganism growth. Products that are typically dry in nature like granola bars, cookies and candy should be packaged well to keep the outside moisture out. If moisture gets into a dry food product, that food will now be moist and support bacteria growth.

Here are a few tips to slow down mold growth in your food products:

1. Be as sanitary as possible during the entire production process: Wash up, wear gloves when handling post cooked cooled foods and sanitize all your cooking equipment before and after using. This will reduce the amount of bacteria, yeasts and mold from getting in the food to begin with.

2. Bake the brownies/cookies till they are very very dry: Moist baked goods are delicious if you plan to eat them within 24 hours. However, a moist brownie that sits on the shelf for a few weeks, has water in it that can support the growth of microorganisms. The more water you take away, the harder it is for them to grow.

3. If you must keep the brownie moist, add preservatives: Preservatives come in many forms such as potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and cultured dextrose. They are an additional layer of defense that will slow down yeast and mold even in a moist environment.

4. Gummy bears should be kept dry too: Those gummy bears you buy at the store went through a 2-day severe drying process in special dehumidified rooms with dehydrators. This is why store bought gummies don’t get moldy. Most entrepreneurs and small batch manufacturers don’t have that type of drying equipment, so the final gelatin treat retains moisture and can become moldy. If you can’t sufficiently dry out the gummies you should keep them refrigerated. Adding extra sugar helps too, it binds up the water making it unavailable for microorganism growth.

Big food companies spent years trying to extend the shelf life of their food products. Their food scientists scrutinize over detail of the product like precise sugar percentages, product pH, moisture levels, water activity and soluble solids. They try to adjust those product details to ensure they do not support bacteria growth. This type of research takes time and you too will have to adjust your recipe frequently. By utilizing math, technical measuring tools and the scientific method you will be able to isolate and fix your mold issues.

You have an idea for a new food product – your friends think its great and you have never seen anything like it on the market. You want to manufacture it but have absolutely no idea where to begin!

You have two choices when faced with this daunting task- you can spend hours and hours figuring out everything from how to start a business, how to find a commercial kitchen or what are the local, state and federal regulations. Or you can hire food industry consultants to help you on the way. It really depends on how much time you have, and how much your time is worth.

Hiring a consultant to guide you on your path is an easy way to bring your product to market. Consultants have experience with co packers, sourcing ingredients and modifying formulas to fit manufacturing parameters. Here are a few things you should know about hiring and working wit a food science consultant:

Keep It Local: Try to find a consultant or a consulting firm that is close to where you live. Face to face meetings, visit to their laboratory/kitchen and group tastings are all great ways to have a good relationship with the consultant and expedite results.

Expect Big Costs: An independent Food science/industry consultant can cost you anywhere from $120 to $300 per hour for their expertise. A consulting firm may cost as much as $5,000 to $50,000 to even begin discussions. There will also be other costs that you need to pay separately like ingredient costs, shipping, lab testing, production runs, and third party analysis (sensory, chemistry, safety)- If you go to a consultant with only $5000 dollars, they will probably not take you on as a client. This is not enough funding to create, develop and manufacture your food product. They may be able to do certain parts of your projects (like you can hire them to JUST find you a co packer or do your nutritional analysis) but always keep in mind that bringing new products to market is expensive. Plan to have at least $25,000 available to spend on research, development and manufacturing.

Be Clear On Budget: Tell your consultant how much you have and how much you can afford to spend. They can figure out the best way to work with your budget, or they may be honest and tell you that they can’t help you without more funding. A moral food scientist will explain the overall costs and big picture expenses that you will have and will want you to have enough to make it through the entire process.

List Specific Deliverables: Be very specific with your consultant about what you want to achieve. If you have kitchen samples you have made, bring them a supply so they can evaluate with you and explain the limitations that may occur down the road. The more specific you are- the better the consultant can assist you.

Understand Capabilities: A food scientist is mostly just that- they are the technical expert- they may not be able to do your marketing, write your business plan, or confirm which flavors will sell best on the market. Make sure you understand what your technical consultant can and cannot do.

NDA’s and Ownership: Make it clear to the consultant that you want to own your own formulas and have them sign an NDA. Most food scientists have no interest in owning or stealing your formula, they create concepts for other people all day long but to be safe and legit, have them sign the NDA and confirm that you will own everything they develop for you.

Bringing a new product to market has many challenges- finding a co-packer, making sure all regulations are followed, using the right equipment and understanding manufacturing limitations are all technical know-how’s that a food scientist deals with on a regular basis. Hiring one will not only save you time but long term money as well. A food scientist will make sure that you don’t violate any regulations (resulting in fines and recalls and damaged reputation)- basically, don’t try to do this by yourself at home-leave it to the experts!

I am so excited about the upcoming Expo West Trade show in Anaheim, California– I can’t wait to walk the miles of aisles all teeming with entrepreneurs who are eager and hopeful about bringing their ideas to market. I love hearing their stories, their successes and their regrets about the path they took to get to where they are- and hearing about their challenges ahead! As a food scientist my job is to help entrepreneurs navigate the confusing food industry waters and figure out the right path and the right order of steps within that path! The more stories of confusion I hear, the more chapters I can add to my E-book The Food Business Tool-Kit for entrepreneurs-How To Research, Develop and Produce A New Food Product to alleviate that confusion!

I want to share a common practice that many entrepreneurs partake in that not only is a waste of time and money but can lead to incorrect assumptions about the food product you want to bring to market. This practice involves trying to develop a product on your own at home without any professional supervision. I am not talking about super early stage creations-sure you can make a few fun batches that represent your “concept” and show it to your family and friends—get some feedback. But it needs to stop there! I have had many entrepreneurs tell me about the months they have spent trying to get their product “just right” and they are ready to go to a manufacturer and make a go for it. When I look at their formula I sadly shake my head and tell them they have a long way to go to make it “commercial ready”. Here are some of the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when developing products from their home (without professional food science supervision!)

Not Using Industrial Ingredients- Unless you are working with extremely commodity ingredients (sugar, vegetable oil, salt and perhaps water) anything you get from the supermarket is not going to be the same ingredient used at the manufacturing plant. Even something simple like the organic gluten free flour from whole foods- will perform differently in production. When you start using more complicated ingredients like pureed fruit, spices and protein powders – The supermarket brands are not the same, not even close! Spices in the supermarket are not nearly as fresh as what the manufacturer made, fruit purees are often concentrated to various brix levels for consistency and and most protein powders on the market are blended with flavorings and other sweeteners. The solution here is to work with industrial ingredients only. You will have to track down the ingredient suppliers that sell to manufacturers, request samples and work with those ingredients.

Not Using a Proper Scale: I have some sad news… the $25 dollar scale you bought online is not accurate. It usually measures to the nearest gram and in production, those half grams and partial grams are important. Spices and other lightweight items that you weighed out with your inexpensive scale are going to be inaccurate. You may think you weighted out 1 gram of oregano, but it could just as easily have been 1.5, but you will never know because your scale only went out to the 1-gram accuracy. My advice is to spend $300-$500 on a good scale that goes out to the 100th decimal point. So your 1.53 gram of spice weighs out to exactly that.

Relying On Nutritional Information Provided On The Supermarket Label Ingredient: I already mentioned you should not be using supermarket ingredients but for those who are or did, they also tend to rely on that nutritional information on the label. That nutritional label has already been extrapolated down and rounded to match up with the serving size on the package. The FDA regulations have lots of rounding rules that can result in a teaspoon of spice having no calories when actually Oregano has 38 calories per 100 grams and its 9% protein, 69% carbohydrates and 42% fiber. But if you look at a label on a spice jar in the store- it will probably say zero calories, zero carbohydrates, zero fiber. Yes, that may be the case for the tiny 3 gram serving that is recommended.

Not Knowing The Process: You can’t really develop a product if you don’t know how it will be ultimately processed. Unless you have millions of dollars and plan to build your own manufacturing plant and bring in special equipment from Italy- chances are the unique process you created by boiling, dehydrating, freezing, crumbling and adding back into your cake is just not going to fly at the manufacturing plant. Food manufacturers are not going to adapt their process to fit your idea unless you plan to pay for those adaptations. Your process needs to reflect the manufacturers process, not the other way around. I recommend that you find your manufacturer first- understand how they make the product and try to simulate your process to match theirs. This can be done by online research, checking out co-packer websites or simply networking and finding a local food scientist or food science university and asking the professors there for some assistance. Don’t assume that your method can be done in mass production (it probably can’t!)

Spending months perfecting your formula in your own kitchen is not an efficient use of time or funding. After a few initial basic prototypes that you show your family and friends, your next steps should be to either contact a food science consultant or find a manufacturer who can guide you through their processing steps so you understand how to create the product in a commercially viable way. If you hand over your homemade recipe with your own fruit concentrates and vanilla flavored protein powder from whole foods your co packer will probably tell you to recreate the formula so it can be made commercially. What does that mean though? It means follow the points I mention in this article.

Rachel Zemser is a food scientist who helps entrepreneurs bring their food products to market. Her website is www.alacarteconnections.com

2017 Fancy Food Show Review

I spent three days wandering around the winter fancy food show in San Francisco this week! Saw lots of the same old same old (popcorn, chocolate, olive oil, cheese, Italian imports) but like every show, there are always a few unique items and up and coming trends that we hope will make it and hit mainstream!

Wellness Tonics
Tonics are beverages or syrups that are based on traditional or ancient methods for natural self healing. Some interesting products at the show included Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks like Sonoma Syrup, Tuber Tonics and African Bronz Honey Tonic.

DIY Kits 

Why buy something ready to eat when you can sort of put it together yourself. Lots of DIY (do it yourself) kits at the show for both adults and kids! My favorite was HummisStir– a package containing three shelf stable sterilized packs of chic peas, tahini and dry seasoning- that you blend together with a cute wooden spoon. The hummus wasn’t bad– although it needed some fresh lemon juice in there.  Home Cranked Ice Cream Mix eliminates one having to combine their own sugar, cream and milk–the base is right in the box so you can be like professional and dump the mixture into your ice cream machine– press go- and impress everyone with your secret non-blending skills! In the health and wellness DIY space, there are now companies that will sell you their special Kefir starter cultures to make your own Kefir at home! You can also go to Berkeley and just ask around town and someone will probably “gift” you some of theirs but its nice to know there is a reliable clean workable version on the market.  And of course Bagels–the company Everything Bagel and Cream Cheese DIY instructs you on how to make both the bagel and the cream cheese.

An Apple Every Day

Apples are showing up more than ever in products from syrups to freeze dried snacks to BBQ sauce. Some examples I saw at Fancy Food show included Gia Russa Buttered Apple Barbecue Sauce  and Apple Butter Syrup from Blackberry Patch. Stonewall kitchen was also demo’ing their Apple Cider Syrup.

Better For You Snacks-Naturally

Lots of snacks out there made from ingredients that are “healthy” for you. The definition of healthy of course varies, but according to those who are selling it– includes Chickpeas (Chick Bean Crisps), ProTato Crisps, which combines potato with rice protein to make a protein rich crunchy snack. Ticky Rice Chips which  they make by steaming thai sticky rice, soaking it in watermelon (??!!) and then crisping it up so it tastes like the brown bottom of the pan rice that is scraped up. They have 30% less fat than regular potato chips. Also saw Chia Cassava Chips. These products combine both our desire to crunch and snack, but provide us with fiber and protein from the ingredients used.

Decadence Never Dies 

The Fancy Food Show would not be what it is without the usual slew of olive oil, chocolate, cheese and other rich not necessarily good for you but tastes great selection! Chocolate products will always be there for us- and this year was no exception. Some unique items included Torn Ranch Chocolate Covered Banana Chips– that are truly “taste inspired”. The chocolate pate from Guthries— AKA “Sin In A Tin”.

The Products We Still Need To Get Used To

Crickets are hot now but we still need to get used to eating bugs as a protein source. Don Bugito has been around for a few years now– helping to increase awareness about bugs– as a protein source.

The Weirdest Product I saw at the 2017 Fancy Food Show

The strangest thing I saw was a beverage called Eggurt– made from fermented egg white. I don’t quite understand the history of this idea (it is not something that is done in other countries, nor is it something that existed in the past) but it tasted good– like a yogurt drink.  I did find the masters thesis of a food scientist who developed a very similar beverage in 1978, I wonder if there is a connection!

IMG_8784

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Energy Bars, Health Bars, Nutrition Bars, Gym Bars—- Mommy Bars, Kid Bars and More! The bar industry is exploding and it seems like anyone who is on the go, wants a bar that fits their specific nutritional needs- and anyone with specific nutritional needs has a bar that they have created and want to bring to market.

6279292734_c7cbe2c5551980’s
Carbs Were Still Ok: Years ago there used to be granola bars—lots of oats, sugar, grains and fruit. They tasted pretty good and it was essentially granola cereal all baked together with sugar. A bar that emerged from the granola era—An era where we used to eat carbohydrates without guilt. Fat was the enemy and granola bars were fat free! Nature Valley comes to mind.

1990’s

Protein: Then the athletics came in- and they wanted a bar that would fit their workout needs. Thus was born the high protein “Power Bars” with lots of whey protein in there. But we were still anti fat and ok with sugar so the power bars were high in sugar. These no-bake bars were held together by their sugar-glue and were very hard and chewy. Lots of soy and whey pushed into a very small concentrated place. These bars didn’t need to be baked, with all that sugar the low water activity held them all together.

imgres

Source: Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010
Sugar Alcohol: It then became unpopular to consume carbohydrates and the bar landscape changed. Companies like Quest emerged and replaced the sugar syrups with sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols used to be something that was consumed in small quantities by diabetics- so they could enjoy a small piece of chocolate but now sugar alcohols were being consumed in larger amounts and used to replace most or all of the sugar syrups found in bars.

imgres-2

Source: Bodybuilding.com

 

 

 

 

2013
Soluble Fibers: Sugar alcohols started getting a bad rep because of the gastro-distress they caused. Bar companies turned to soluble fibers like chicory root, inulin, 0ligiosaccharides, prebiotic fiber, soluble corn fiber. There were lots of names and varieties but ultimately it translated to carbs that are not digested.

Fat is Ok: Guess what, we get to eat fats again- and not just olive oil but the stuff that used to be bad for us like saturated fats from coconut oil and palm oil. Remember when the CSPI said coconut oil and saturated fats were bad—well, now we are told its good! The bar market continued to emerge with bars very high in fat like coconut oil, palm oil and MCT (medium chain triglycerides). This was all propelled forward by Dave Asprey and his  Bullet Proof Coffee. Now we see bars emerging that are just dripping with oil and fat. This is ok—this is acceptable because there are no carbs, there are healthy fats and all the protein comes from nuts. Of course a bit of sugar is needed to keep it from getting moldy so the soluble fibers and sugar alcohols are used for water activity control.

img_3550

Source: Cavefoodkitchen.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016
Soluble Fiber Rules Change: In 2016 the FDA put out their updates including noting that not all soluble fibers would count as dietary fiber on the label. Fibers that count include natural fibers from fruits and vegetables but processed inulin fiber may not count. The FDA says, and I quote:

“The F.D.A. plans to publish a separate notice that will seek comment on the available scientific data on non-digestible carbohydrates. Publicly available clinical trial data will be identified and summarized for non-digestible carbohydrates, including inulin, bamboo fiber, soy fiber, pea fiber, wheat fiber, cotton seed fiber, sugar cane fiber, sugar beet fiber and oat fiber”

2015
Glycemic Index: But what about glycemic index?! That’s the new buzz word in the health bar space. Glycemic index and blood sugar are important and the emerging thought now is, its ok if the carbs are actually GASP* digested- but wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t’ affect our blood sugar levels! The bars are now high in fat (from nuts and coconut- it’s so great not to have to worry about saturated fat anymore!)

2016
Sugar Is Back– FODMAP friendly bars: We have come full circle with a new bar trend- the latest bar trend uses actual glucose syrup (and in the spirit of keeping it real—let’s all agree that corn syrup, tapioca syrup, brown rice syrup and glucose syrup are all the same thing-just because its not high fructose corn syrup doesn’t mean its healthier) The goal of these bars is to get the FODMAPs, an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, AKA poorly absorbed carbohydrates- that cause severe abdominal pain, bloating, gas and constipation. I shake my head and wonder—how is this different from the very same high protein low fiber, high sugar Powerbars we used to eat so long ago. Its not– its the same concept, with a brand new marketing twist! Powerbar should have marketed their 90’s bar to the FODMAP sensitive people!

imgres-1

Source: Nicerfoods.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016

Allulose Bars: A new emerging trend on the horizon. Allulose is a natural rare sugar that is created in bulk by enzymatically extracting it from Non-GMO corn. Allulose is not a sugar alcohol and it is not a soluble fiber. It is actually a sugar, you just pee it out. It tastes great, it lowers water activity, it doesn’t cause FODMAP issues. Could allulose be the answer to our prayers? It probably will once consumers can be educated to understand that the sugar from allulose listed on a label doesn’t count – not much anyway. It’s about 0.29 calories per gram. The FDA has some recommended levels on it that may or may not be followed- we don’t really know yet because no one has actually put out any products with allulose—YET! That will change in 2017!

2016

Refrigerated Bars
It started with Core Foods (they were doing it back in 2009!) and now we have Perfect Bar– both bars don’t rely on high sugar (or sugar alcohols or soluble fibers) to lower water activity to inhibit mold—because they have the cold refrigerated air to keep the bacteria at bay. What a novel, new and exciting idea—refrigeration! Fresh Food! This emerging bar category is one to keep an eye on! A move away from bars that need some form of sugar (digestible or not) to keep it safe won’t be necessary if we keep it cold. A short shelf life will be involved though!

 

imgres

Source: A Dancer In the Kitchen Blogspot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The energy bar world has evolved and changed over the past 10 years and we are now at a point where the trend is basically to eat and excrete. The less food from that bar that you eat and the more you push out of your body—the more popular the bar becomes. Bar entrepreneurs consider anything that is a fiber or sugar alcohol as not counting towards the net carbs- or they think it’s not going to be digested. (this is not totally true as parts of some fibers are digested –as the FDA is beginning to regulate-but no one really talks about that!)

2017 and Beyond

What’s Next

What kind of bar will be next—I have an idea! How about a RETORT bar— yes, this would be a bar that would be pushed into flexible pouch packaging, heated to 250’F to ensure no botulism and to make the product completely sterile. Water activity won’t be a concern, it won’t need refrigeration and pH won’t matter. It will be like the cans of tuna fish that are now in a pouch- on the shelf. Shelf stable retorted energy bars- you heard it from me first!


“It’s his evident cult of personality that’s most chilling. Tetrick used anti-Big Food, pro-animal rights rhetoric to whip his employees and brand ambassadors into a fervor, and the technique was so successful his shady schemes often went unquestioned.” The New Food Economy 9.23.2016

There has been lots of talk about Hampton Creek, buyback programs and other shenanigans! But as a food scientist I have a few obvious thoughts to point out:

Why was everyone so impressed with the following:

• Vegan spread made from oil and modified food starch and flavorings

• Cookies made from sugar, flour and oil

• Salad dressing made from oil, vinegar, xanthan gum and other commonly used hydrocolloids

These are all common stock food items that have been made by food scientists and mommy bloggers alike across the universe. There is nothing unique, special or new-scientific about these products. The famous pea protein that Josh and his team said was such a game changer- has nothing to do with their functionality- it all comes from the sugar, processed white flour, xanthan gum and modified food starch—ingredients that are seen as “unclean” in this day and age.

Investors: Stop being fooled by start-up entrepreneurs who don’t know a thing about food science or how to develop food products. Just because a 30 something year old hoodie wearing kid tells you that he is going to save all the chickens, doesn’t mean that they know how to actually do it!

Do your homework- crosscheck with real food scientists and stop believing the hype!

Yours Truly,

Rachel Zemser, Food Scientist (BS, MS, CCS, CFS)

LIVE PODCAST

Ep. 017 – Why Phil believes in the RCA, with Philip Saneski, President of the RCA Student Committee

The below blog and above podcast Posted on September 12, 2016 by Author Adam Yee 

Today we have Philip Saneski, an inspiring, young, proactive, dude who has recently been working hard to build up the Research Chefs Association Student section.

Philip works in an innovative consulting company in San Francisco as an intern, has experience as a pastry chef and, as a student, during the school year, he is involved quite heavily in the Research Chef’s Association (RCA).

You might remember the Research Chefs Association or Culinology program in episode 12, where Kim Schaub talks about her experiences. Her podcast features culinologists from the RCA.

Enjoy the interview! Phil really shines a light on everything the RCA has to offer.

About Philip Saneski

Philip has culinary experience working in San Francisco Chronicle’s ‘Top 100 Bay Area restaurants’, and Michelin star kitchens as a line cook on multiple stations, as a Pastry Chef for an upscale hotel, at AQ Restaurant, a James Beard Award finalist for ‘Best New Restaurant in the Country’ and most recently Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, named one of the ‘Top 15 Small Town Bakeries in the Country’ by Travel & Leisure magazine. In addition to being a certified wine sommelier, Philip has expanded his palate by working for award-winning chefs in Portland and Austin. As President and Co-Founder of the Research Chefs Association Student Committee, he is passionate about providing long-term food industry careers to talented students who are able to combine food science and culinary arts – what he calls ‘extending the shelf life of chefs’. Interested students can find out more about these R&D opportunities through his Student Committee team’s student-run blog The Culinologist: Creating the Future of Food.

Philip’s extensive pastry experience and volunteer involvement for non-profit organizations led to a coveted internship at a San Francisco Bay Area-based food science product development consultancy, A LA Carte Connections, LLC. During his time as an intern, he became even more enthralled with developing future food products. From gluten-free baked goods to no-bake energy bars, from plant-based proteins to cricket flour. He says that representing innovative start-ups as well as established global corporations is (thankfully) never the same.

Whether Philip’s balancing school with early mornings as a Pastry Chef or in R&D, everyday his Food Job Rocks! He wants all food interested students to feel the same enthusiasm by making them aware of the numerous career paths available beyond the restaurant kitchen. In March 2016, Philip was given the Research Chefs Association President’s Award, the first student ever in the association’s 20 year history.

About the RCA

The Research Chefs Association is the leading professional community for food research and development. Its members are the pioneers of the discipline of Culinology® – the blending of culinary arts and the science of food.

AIMG_6886nother IFT has come and gone – as I get older my show navigation skills have improved! I noticed this year that all the long timer booths (like David Michael, Kerry and Tate & Lyle) were located in the same spots on the McCormick floor as last year. I also am really good at finding the best freebie giveaways like the illuminated egg from Okaloosa, the beautiful green t-shirt from the honey board and flashing bracelets from Qualisoy. I should also mention that Qualisoy had a talented artist mold a head out of shortening. Not everyone may have caught this because it was way in the 4000’s aisle!

The real ongoing theme of IFT this year however was every food scientist’s favorite (and least favorite) topic—Clean Label! As a consultant who develops food products for both entrepreneurs and large companies I get frustrated when I am forbidden from using top notch functional ingredients because my client does not understand what it means, and replace it with something that kinda works, but maybe not as well- but comes with a word that is known to mere mortals (aka non-food scientists). Luckily I have ingredient trade shows like IFT and Supply Side West that give me the opportunity to explore and interact with the latest and greatest clean label functional ingredients that I can then introduce to my mortal clients who understand what the word means, and in turn put it on the “ok to use” list.

Ingredient trade shows like IFT and Supply Side link me up with the best clean label alternatives out there! For example—every time I make a dry powder mix (protein shakes, fruit powder sport drinks, pancake mix, cake mix) I need anti caking agents. The most popular anti caking agent is Silicone Dioxide. The scientists of the world know that Silicone comes from quartz and oxygen comes from – the earth. It’s as natural as can be, but to the uninformed mortals they are just eating “chemicals”. Well in come Ribose, a leading organic natural clean label rice based alternative. Their Nu-Flow anti caking agent can be used to replace SiO2 or the even dirtier “Tri-calcium Phosphate” (oh no, not CALCIUM!) with simple “rice concentrate”! Boom! Done! Everyone is happy! I feel safe in knowing my dry blend won’t clump and my clients can breath a sign of relief that no nasty chemicals that will offend their clients will be on their ingredient statement. It’s a win win situation.

Phosphates are very common in the cured meat in industry, used to retain moisture, maintain flavor. They increase the water holding capacity of meat by forcing proteins apart, allowing water to move in between the protein molecules. Most people don’t really know what this word means or how it functions—they don’t want to see it on the label. Luckily I found Prosur’s “PRS PHR”, an innovative clean label solution made out of yeast extracts (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Pichia Jadinii) and citrus extracts. They have a synergistic effect on the solubilisation capacity of actomyosine, which boosts the water retention of meat in a more natural way. In layman’s terms—this works like a phosphate and translates to an ingredient statement that says: Yeast Extract, Citrus Extract. Yeast and citrus are clean, phosphates to the consumer are not.

TIC Gums is a true leader when it comes to clean label ingredients. Why? First of all, gums were never really un clean to begin with and many have been used for hundreds of years and everyone knows that if our grandmother used it then it must be clean since most people don’t have food science grandmothers. TIC has a great “clean label hydrocolloid” chart that they passed out, reminding food scientists like me that High Methoxyl Pectin can simply be called “Pectin” and Locust Bean Gum can be called “Carob Gum” and the hippies in the 60’s ate Carob instead of chocolate so it must be clean. High Acyl Gellen Gum can be called just “Gellen” gum. Some gums are organic, which translates scary sounding “inulin” to “organic agave or chicory”. Lots of confusion out there in gum world-TIC is there to help us legally relay the truth to the consumer. Unfortunately for ingredients like sodium alginate (AKA Seaweed!) there is no clean label- it is up to the manufacturer to educate their consumer that it is seaweed, organic compliant, non-GMO compliant and on the published whole foods compliance list.

All these companies and more will be exhibiting their functional and clean label alternative solutions to the food scientists that will be attending Supply Side West. I started checking out Supply side several years ago and wasn’t quite sure if it was just herbs, supplements or an up and coming IFT type show. Every year more and more ingredient companies are exhibiting at Supply Side and the show is almost beginning to outgrow the smaller expo exhibit hall in Vegas at Mandalay Bay. In the past I didn’t go to Supply Side very often as I felt it was very supplement and vitamin oriented, but now it’s one of my regular trade shows that I attend. I love that it is in Vegas too—lots of affordable hotels, great restaurants and nighttime entertainment.

This year at IFT there was an eye opening consumer panel called “A Clean Label Revolution”. Random consumers not from the food industry were actually on the stage and sharing their thoughts and feelings about ingredient statements and what they would and would not use. The message was clear—if consumers don’t know what it means or if there is unexplained fear monger attention surrounding it (like carrageenan or GMO’s) then they don’t want to buy it!
Clean label is no longer just a thing for the Whole Foods and artisan crowd- it’s becoming an everyone thing and the food industry needs to start doing a better job of educating the masses on what sodium chloride is and the differences between high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, or come up with some brand new functional alternatives that have names our grandmother could have lived with. This is what happens when the food industry pretends like our food was made by Friendly Green Giants and Keebler Elves for the last 100 years- and consumers find out that it was actually made in stainless steel tanks in a factory by scientists and engineers. Yes, consumers now know the truth, that food is made in a scientific and methodical way in clean sanitary plants by people that wear hairnets and practice GMP’s. Time to educate, inform and fix it so we can continue to take advantage of past and future food science contributions to the functional ingredient world.

Oh, unrelated to the clean label trend –a few other cool things I saw at IFT this year was a new competitor to Genesis, a less expensive spreadsheet software program for nutritional analysis called Formulator. An edible vitamin cup from DSM and Loliware. Edible food wrap film from Monosol – a transparent, odorless and tasteless film that is biodegradable, dissolves in water reduces environmental waste. There was freeze dried high antioxidant purple corn from Suntava which was used to make energy bars that I ate for breakfast during the show. In the equipment world it’s all about recording results with the blue tooth pH meter from Hanna instruments. This is on my food science consultant wish list along with a not yet on the market but they showed it at Expo anyway—a unit that measures salt, acid, pH and brix all on the same unit from Atago. Can’t wait for this to come out, a must have for any laboratory!

IMG_6894