'Clean-Label' is an informal term used to describe functional ingredients for processed foods that are closer in their nature to the food ingredients people cook with in their homes. More and more consumers are demand products without additives, preservatives or unnatural-sounding ingredients.
"The implication for ingredients is increasingly that they must meet clean label standards," said Charlotte Commarmond, National Starch marketing manager for wholesome ingredients at an IFT seminar in New Orleans last week.
The company believes that its Novation range of functional native starches, which allow the development of natural or organic food products, meets this growing need.
The Novation range is designed to provide the textural ability of traditional modified food starches without the need for the "modified" label. Such non-chemically modified starches are labeled simply as starch on the food ingredients label, rather than as modified starch or starch-modified.
This is significant because functional foods are more appealing when terms that consumers already perceive to be good for them are used. Natural-sounding ingredients carry more clout than scientific-sounding ingredients that may not yet have entered consumer consciousness.
The company has now applied its know-how of functional starches to develop a range of natural grain-based ingredients.
"National Starch's functional flours provide food manufacturers with ingredients that support their wholesome, natural and home-style food products," said Joe Lombardi, marketing manager for National Starch's Wholesome Ingredients North America division.
"With these new ingredients, products can carry consumer-pleasing flour designations on the store package and offer new options for clean label products. They are an excellent complement to our industry-leading Novation functional native starch technology."
The latest product in the range, which National Starch unveiling at the IFT show, is a functional clean label texturizer. "In fact its so new that we don't have a name yet,"said Commarmond. National Starch says that it will be introducing other flours later in the year.
In addition, National Starch used its platform at the IFT to highlight the health benefits of its Hi-Maize 5-in-1. The fiber product is designed to help food manufacturers increase the fiber content of their products without negatively changing the flavor and texture.
The US diet is notoriously low in fiber, and consumers don't seek it out because they tend to think that it tastes bad. But National Starch believes that consumers will respond to scientifically proven benefits of the product, if they are communicated properly.
"What's important is marketing," said Commarmond. "We've all seen cholesterol labeling, and consumers understand this. Consumers want this type of information rather than 'this product contains more fiber'.
As a result, National starch is highlighting the fact that a study conducted at the University of Colorado suggested that Hi-Maize increased lipid oxidization, and that it has lower calories than flour.
Another study from Flinders University also found that Hi-Maize reduced large intestinal pH and increased short-chain fatty acids.