Food companies are looking for new ways to appeal to frugal consumers while cutting their own costs – and ingredient companies are coming up some innovative answers.
According to Nutrimarketing’s Sophie de Reynal, price is still the biggest driver for food purchases, and ingredient firms have come forward with solutions to help manufacturers switch out the most costly commodities, including eggs, milk, sugar, and natural flavourings like vanilla.
In 2008, about 58% of French food manufacturers said they had modified proportions of ingredients in an effort to cut costs, while 46% had tried to use less expensive ingredients, Reynal said in a recent presentation .
2012: A big year for egg replacement
Egg was particularly problematic for food companies this year, as new EU rules on hen cages led to an egg shortage, and egg replacement technologies have proliferated.
Arla Food Ingredients said in March that it expected sales of its Nutrilac egg replacement ingredient – from whey protein fractions – to double this year as a result of the shortage, and Kerry Ingredients and Flavours also said it expected a significant boost in the sales of its egg replacers, made from hydrolyzed proteins from soy, wheat, casein, peas and rice.
In other cases, flavours have proved useful substitutes for more expensive ingredients. Vanilla is a particularly expensive flavouring that many food companies have sought to replace with synthetic vanillin – but there are also natural alternatives available.
Frutarom, for example, has introduced two natural vanilla substitutes that can be labelled as ‘natural flavour’ and are comparable in price and taste to synthetic vanillin, it says.
Saving time, saving money
De Reynal said that targeting time-saving strategies is another way that ingredient suppliers are looking to appeal to cost-cutting manufacturers, while improving yields has also been a big driver.
DSM has introduced Maxicurd protein hydrolysate, which increases cheese yield by 4%, for example.