The 16th International Food and Drink Event (IFE) opened its doors in London yesterday. In the past the event has been heavily angled towards end products; but exhibitors from the ingredients world this time around include chocolate supplier HB Ingredients, aspartame sweetener company Sinosweet and natural vanilla company Eurovanille.
Paul MacDonald, IFE09 event director, said that by adding the ingredients element – along with the Pro2Pac food and drink processing and packaging show, which has run in tandem with IFE since 2007 – the event reflected “innovative solutions throughout the supply chain”.
David Jago, a trend and innovation director at Mintel, who was involved in sourcing some of the innovative products being showcased at IFE, told FoodNavigator.com: “The role of ingredient companies is much closer to the end consumer than it has been in the past.
“So much of R&D is increasingly partnered and they (ingredients companies) are developing products with manufacturers rather than just developing ingredients, then selling it to somebody.
“Ingredients suppliers can tap into trends much more quickly by going into partnership with a manufacturing company at a very early stage.”
He added that many companies followed what he called the “ingredient based route” and said: “They find an ingredient, then think about what product it is going into afterwards.”
And in such challenging economic times, Jago said: “The need to innovate is even greater now because the pressure is even greater.
“It is quite easy for companies to cut back on budgets across the board and play safe. But it is the perfect time to create something new and different.
The analyst identified several trends among the products being showcased at the Innovation Live section of IFE, in association with Mintel.
He said flavours were being found in “unexpected places”, such as tortilla chips flavoured with blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate, which gave them a “healthy halo” because of their antioxidant link, despite having none of the benefits.
There was also a focus on the “inherent goodness” of ingredients with products that have a high fruit or vegetable extract content, such as water-based drinks and pasta sauces.
Jago described this as “natural functionality, or functional food without the science”.
Similarly there has been a growing focus on traditional home-style recipes over the last six months, coinciding with the recession, and Jago said: “That concept is coming through quite strongly and we can tie that back to natural functionality. The idea that less processed food is better for us.”
Also pharmaceutical or dietary supplement ingredients appeared to be moving closer to the food and beverage market.
Examples include the ‘Dreamerz’ Pomegranate Pillow Drink which claims to induce ‘sleep anywhere’, with a combination of melatonin and herbs.
Skin health also features strongly with, for example, chocolate called ‘Frutels’ which claim to deliver antioxidants and micro-nutrients to support the body’s defences against the causes of acne and clarify the skin from within.
IFE09 runs from 15 – 18 March at London’s ExCel centre.