Strong industry focus on reducing levels of sugar, salt and fat in foods has far too often left reformulated products with a compromised final taste and texture - something that could backfire on manufacturers in the future, according to Aaron Edwards, ingredients and texture director at Ingredion. Taking to FoodNavigator at Food Matters Live in London, Edwards said that while getting the best taste is vital for reformulation success, manufacturers should not underestimate the influence of getting the correct texture too.
“When it comes to consumer perception of good quality foods, even if the recipe has undergone a nutrition minus, so a taking out of components such as sugar and fat, consumers still expect to have the eating quality or the texture that they get from a full-fat or a full-sugar product. It goes the same way for a cost-reduced recipes.”
“I think for years texture has taken the back seat on trend importance and consumer awareness. I read something this year which leads me to believe that texture finally is going to get its due. It is that texture is rapidly becoming as important a flavour,” he added.
Ingredion always treated it that was as it was the backbone of what it did. Now it believes consumers begin to share this view even if the product becomes more nutritious or more affordable.
Driving repeat purchases
“You choose as a consumer to eat certain foods because of the flavour and the texture they have. Those make big differences in repeat purchases and keep you interested in the food you’re eating,” said Edwards.
Edwards believed that the biggest challenge for the industry would be to target different consumer groups based on their preference.
“Across food applications segments such as dairy, soups and sauces or snacks you have specific consumer preference groups. There are groups of people that prefer to either chew hard food or chew soft food or they might want to crunch on their food."
Edwards added that the key was to find right ingredients for the recipes and carefully position the products.