UK-based research firm Leatherhead Food is launching a series of projects that will provide companies with new opportunities for product innovation.
Leatherhead's Food Ingredients & Product Development Group will investigate six areas, including calcium stability in fortified beverages, developing starch-based foods with low glycaemic index and researching potential alternatives to gelatin for microencapsulation of flavours, oils and nutraceuticals.
The projects are designed to lead to multi-client and/or single-client confidential projects resulting in long-term benefits, depending on the requirements needs and interest of participating companies.
The search to replace gelatin has been prompted by growing demand for vegetarian and ethnic products and the need for microencapsulation of more sensitive ingredients such as flavours, oils and nutraceuticals. Microencapsualtion can also result in controlled release and activity in the end product. However, the widely used properties of gelatin are not easily replaced.
Leatherhead is planning to screen alternative protein/polysaccharide complex systems for their functionality in microencapsulation of a dispersed oil phase. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the microencapsulation process with non-gelatin proteins in practical applications. The findings could offer significant advantages to protein/polysaccharide manufacturers for new applications of their ingredients, as well as to the flavour/oils/nutraceutical sector, for product development.
The booming market for foods fortified with calcium has prompted a second project in the series. While there are many calcium fortificants available, the addition of calcium to foods can create challenges, particularly at increasing levels of addition. Drinks are one of the biggest application areas but they present particular problems with the calcium tending to settle out over time and the solubility of calcium sources is significantly affected by pH.
The Leatherhead team will investigate the stability of fortified beverages in relation to critical factors, such as pH, interactions among ingredients, particle size of the added mineral and processing conditions. The results should help manufacturers in developing stable calcium fortified beverages which contain optimum levels of calcium and good taste profiles.
For further information on the other projects, contact Leatherhead.