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Innovative food ingredients that are changing the future of food in India
Tuesday, 30 March, 2021, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Dr Prakash Kondekar
Food ingredients are used to enhance the flavour of edible food products. Even a small proportion of flavour is sufficient to change the taste, colour and smell of any food products. Additionally, they are also used to give a peculiar taste, aroma and colour to the colourless and tasteless products like candies. A food ingredient is any substance that is added to a food to achieve a desired effect. The term ‘food ingredient' includes food additives, which are substances added to foods for specific technical and/or functional purposes during processing, storage or packaging. Frequently used food ingredients can be, vegetable oil, flour, butter, sugar, salt, rice, milk, spices, caramel, carotenoids, anthocyanin, and curcumin.

Ingredient - Carrageenan is used in ice cream to give it smooth, creamy texture. In chocolate milk and almond milk, carrageenan is used as a stabiliser to keep chocolate from separating or the ground nuts from settling to the bottom of the carton. It is also used to stabilise and suspend nutrients in liquid infant formula to make sure babies get proper  nutrition they need. Carrageenan can also be used to reduce the sugar content in jams and jellies, reduce sodium in lunch meats while keeping them moist and fresh, and improve and protect the overall nutritional value in a number of foods without sacrificing taste.

In India, more emphasis is given on development of innovative ingredients on the basis of chemical blending which is used for creating advanced antioxidants, enzymes and antimicrobials, mostly for food industry. Organometallic Synthesis, is use to make food safer by curbing mold growth of microbial contamination. Through the process of fermentation, probiotics, enzymes, antimicrobials and metabolite solutions could be created for the food industry in general and bakery industry particular. Some of the proprietary plants are grown agronomically and sustainably so as to use their leaves as food ingredients.

Dehydrated mint leaves powder extensively used for preparing delicious chutneys, curries and for decoration purpose in various desserts, as a healthy ingredient, in the current situation wherein, immunity enhancement is a must. Onions are processed to assure for its freshness and unique taste. These onions are opted for an alternate to be fresh and used for the preparation of soups, sauces, gravies and various other dishes. Now a days dehydrated onion flakes and powder are also being used by food industry, due to the fluctuating prices of onions. During this pandemic Covid-19,dehydrated onions, ginger powder and paste are very much in demand due to its functional properties.

Sweeteners add sweetness to foods, and are often a low to no calorie sugar substitute for sugars. They are used in small amounts to intensify or to obtain the same level of sweetness as regular sugars, without raising blood sugar levels. Sweeteners are often used in soft drinks, canned foods, jellies and jams, baked goods, candy, and dairy products.

Gellan gum is used in dairy and non-dairy drinks, milks, nutritional products, juices, yogurts, sour creams, bakery products and fillings, fruit sauces and spreads, dairy-based desserts and flans, as well as salad dressings and sauces. Guar gum can be found in soups, stews, ice cream, yogurt, and marinades. Guar gum is also used in plant-based milks such as flax, almond, coconut, soy, and hemp.

One of many substances added to food, monocalcium phosphate is derived from minerals found in nature   minerals that are vital to our health and well-being. Monocalcium phosphate has been used in food production which  is made by reacting a source of calcium (usually calcium hydroxide) with phosphoric acid. Calcium hydroxide, or limewater, is made by mixing calcium oxide with water. It is a simple but innovative way to improve immunity. Food-grade phosphoric acid is made from phosphate rocks, which are mined, refined and purified.  Companies that make phosphoric acid in India, U.S. Europe and elsewhere follow strict procedures to ensure purity.

Many anticaking agents are derived from mineral sources, such as calcium, magnesium, and silicon. Calcium silicate is a common anticaking agent found in table salt and helps to absorb both oil and water to reduce salt particles from clumping together.

Natural sources of fatty acids and mono- and diglycerides include: plant oils such as soybean, grapeseed, canola, sunflower, cottonseed, coconut and palm oil; plant pomace such as grape pomace or tomato pomace; as well as some animal fats. Lecithin is often used as an emulsifier in foods, which helps improve the texture and quality of products. It can also be used as an antioxidant and flavor protector. De-oiled lecithin is free of oil which provides more concentrated phospholipids for enhanced dispersion in water and easier handling.

Chocolates with ashwagandha, pecan nuts, cumin, ginger and goji berries, paste cooked in turmeric sauce, carrot, ginger and turmeric-infused smoothies and latte, wedges served with moringa leaves and hemp powder in chapati and pizza dough, are some of the innovative ways of playing with local ingredients.

The global Food Flavors market was valued more than USD 16 Billion in 2020  and is expected to reach USD 21 Billion by year 2027, at a CAGR of 5.2 per cent. Growing demand for new kinds of tastes along with continuous innovation in the flavourings segment of the product based on consumer tastes and preferences is driving the growth for food flavor market - fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, fish and flowers.

Before launching of a new product, it goes through a number of tests and are launched only after satisfactory results. Taste is the major factor when that comes to the success of any foodstuff or beverage. Hence, the product manufacturers are investing high funds for the research and development activities. These products are also extensively used in the pharmaceutical industry. Bitter medicines are added with certain flavouring in order to make them more desirable and consumable. Furthermore, changing lifestyle, increase in the purchasing power with high rate of urbanisation has increased the demand for foodstuffs and beverages, is good sign for industry. Overall economic development and changing lifestyle of people is encouraging  manufacturers to introduce new and innovative formulations of natural flavourings. This factor might hamper the growth of food flavours market economically as consumers are also becoming aware of the healthy food habits.

With all those factors, innovations will play important role in Indian food ingredient industry. Some of the key market players in food ingredients, are Amar Bio-Organics India Pvt. Ltd. (India), DuPont (US), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) (US), Givaudan (Switzerland), Kerry Group, Plc (Ireland), International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) (Israel), Mane (France), Sensient (US), are few international players.

Many natural food and flavour ingredients are sourced from crops. Limited availability of such raw materials is a key factor causing an increase in the prices of ingredients. Farmers are adopting new practices such as precision farming to increase the production of crops to source ingredients.

In India, FSSAI and in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the key regulating bodies  for food additives. It regulates the inclusion of ingredients in food and beverages.

Recent Developments
Growth in the demand for natural and clean label products
The demand for food with natural ingredients and clean labels is increasing in almost all regions, owing to the increasing health awareness, increasing spending power of consumers and increasing food adulteration instances. Hence, manufacturers are focusing on expanding their natural food and beverage portfolio. Clean label is one of the most important features of packaged foods. Consumer awareness is strengthening the clean label trend which in turn, will prompt them to move away from synthetic ingredients and adopt plant-based and natural diets, further supporting the growth of the natural food colours and flavours ingredients market. Retailers are also addressing the growing demand for clean-label products from consumers. The recent outbreak of Covid-19 has led consumers to buy more ‘clean label’ products, owing to their safe consumption and positive health benefits. This will promote the growth of the natural food colours and flavours industry.

Many industries have suffered due to negative growth due to Pandemic situation since last one year, however food ingredient industry is not to that extent and innovation is the key.
(The author is director at IIN, Mumbai. He can be reached at
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