Most Innovative New Organic Ingredients of 2009
By Kat Schuett
Although many equate the term “organic” with going “back to the basics,” the fact is that organic processing, like nature itself, is continually evolving—looking for ways to improve. This evolution in organic consumer goods is being driven by innovators who are working continuously to bring a wider range of organic-certified ingredients to the market. These new products are showcased in the Innovations section of Organic Processing Magazine—and at the end of each year, we take a look back and compile a list of the most notable new ingredients.
Besides offering better flavor, shelf-life and creative options, these ingredients have allowed processors to create more authentic organic products. These innovative ingredients are highlighted below.
Fair Trade/EcoSocial Ingredients
Organic consumers make purchases based not only on their values regarding healthy lifestyles, but also on their values concerning the environment and social responsibility. Because of this, several organic ingredient suppliers have taken the extra step to certify key ingredients to standards that ensure they are meeting additional social and environmental criteria. One of these suppliers is Ciranda, who this past summer was the first to launch EcoSocial-certified Palmfruit shortening. EcoSocial is a “three-in-one” economic, social and environmental certification, which requires organic certification as well as participation in additional community and environmental betterment programs.
Global Organics has also recently launched an EcoSocial organic sugar from Brazil. Already used by major brands like Organic Valley and Crofter’s, this EcoSocial sugar is part of the Green Cane Project. This effort has created an alternative farming method that has brought back over 500 forms of life to the soil and surroundings of the farms, and, through an innovative harvesting system, has eliminated carbon emissions associated with traditional cane harvesting, which requires burning the fields.
There are also several new products certified to TransFair, the U.S. fair trade certification agency. In addition to EcoSocial sugar, Global Organics is also offering fair trade certified organic cocoa powder. This past June, fair trade pioneer Frontier Natural Products launched the first line of fair trade certified spices, including several grinds of black pepper and whole black peppercorns, white pepper (whole and ground), Ceylon cinnamon (whole and ground), cloves (whole and ground), mace (whole and ground), nutmeg (whole and ground), ground ginger and ground turmeric.
Mountain Rose Herbs has also added to its extensive line of fair trade certified products, including fair trade yerba mate, cocoa butter, coconut oil, vanilla bean and black pepper. Elan is offering fair trade vanilla as well.
One of the new ingredient launches that has gained the most attention this year is stevia, a low-calorie, natural sweetener. RFI Ingredients recently introduced organic stevia extract as the latest addition to its Sourcestainable Organic product line. This extract is made from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana and is standardized to 90 percent stevia glycosides. Stevia extract has 300 times the sweetness of sugar and a sweetness profile that has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar. Stevia also has a negligible effect on blood glucose. RFI’s stevia extract can be used in any USDA-certified organic dietary supplement formulation where the addition of other organic sweeteners will provide too much bulk, such as powdered greens drinks and chewable tablets.
Navitas Naturals has also launched an organic green stevia, made from the whole stevia leaf. Navitas’ stevia leaves are dried at low temperatures to protect the nutrients of the plant and then milled into a fine powder and are both vegan and kosher certified.
Health continues to be the major reason why most consumers buy organic, and it’s not just about what it doesn’t have (pesticides, preservatives, hormones), but what it can offer as an added health benefit.
One of the hottest functional food ingredients in the market today is chia seed. The organic form of this “superseed” was introduced by both Navitas Naturals and SK Foods this year. Soon Navitas will be launching a sprouted version as well, which helps make nutrients more bioavailable. Chia seed (salvia hispanica) has an ideal 3:2 ratio of essential fatty acids (omegas) and is a good source of protein (more than 20 percent, containing all of the essential amino acids).
Chia seed also possesses more than 5 percent soluble fiber and absorbs as much as 12 times its weight in water. When introduced to fluids, the seeds form a gel which creates a barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that would break them down. This causes the carbs to be converted to glucose at a slow rate, thus preventing insulin spikes. The water retention from the chia seed gel also helps the body maintain proper hydration. Because of the gelling attribute, chia can work as a thickening agent in recipes for soups, smoothies, sauces and puddings. It can be added to breads, bars and cereals as well.
Omega 3 fatty acids are still one of the most popular functional health ingredients shoppers seek. Considering this fact and the growing concern about allergens, Hilton Soy Foods recently developed a high omega 3 peanut butter substitute. This “same taste” one-to-one substitute can replace both peanuts and peanut butter in virtually any kind of product. It not only tastes like peanut butter, but smells like it too. This offers a solution for manufacturers who want to help keep kids and schools free of peanut allergens. Hilton SoyButter has no fillers of any kind, is kosher and is made with gently roasted Canadian soybeans.
Another ingredient trend in both food and personal care products is the use of mushrooms. This year, Synergy Production Laboratories’ (SPL) launched a line of organic Synergized Mushroom Powders which include only the mycelium portion of the mushroom organism, where valuable polysaccharide compounds, such as beta glucans, are highly concentrated. Varieties include those that have demonstrated the greatest health benefits: Cordyceps sinensis, Agaricus blazei, reishi, shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane, and turkey tails. These fungi contain an abundance of immune-strengthening compounds and are high in enzymes, which aid in the digestion of beneficial constituents. These mushrooms are grown on a certified organic brown rice, millet, or buckwheat substrate to avoid the allergens present in commonly used substrates such as soy, and to ensure that these mushrooms do not absorb pesticide residues.
Continuing on the theme of functional foods, Natural Flavors recently launched a new line of organic superfruit flavors, including ranui berry, cupuacu, yumberry, sea buckthorn berry and acerola. These flavors were developed to enhance the taste profile of products with the named fruit and all contain that fruit in the formula. These flavors are available in both oil and water soluble versions for use in numerous applications.
Flavors are becoming available in more functional forms as well. This year FlavorSense developed lemon juice flavor flakes, which offer a flavor profile that is closer to fresh than IQF, dehydrated or spray-dried lemon, according to the company. Typical spray-dried flavors can taste cooked or candied due to the heat involved in the process. Instead FlavorSense created a proprietary matrix that protects the flavor from cooking or dissipating during processing, allowing processors to add a top note of fresh lemon even in retort, hot fill and baked applications. The flakes are available in 14 other flavors as well.
Grains and Flours
SK Food International now offers identity preserved, certified organic, non-GMO crimson red corn. Other corn varieties’ color is in the seed coat, which causes the corn to lose its color during processing. However, SK Food International’s crimson red corn color is contained in the alerone, not the seed coat, thus the red color remains intact. The other unique feature of this corn is the gametophyte gene that prevents cross-contamination of other types of corn, including genetically modified corn.
Another trend is the revival of heritage grains. Sunnyland Mills recently introduced organic kamut bulgur to its product line. Kamut is an ancient grain that dates back to the days of King Tut. It’s high in protein, fiber, tocopherols (vitamin E) and minerals such as selenium. This whole-grain product is available in three distinct sizes; #1 fine, #3 coarse and whole kernel. It can be used in a variety of ways to add nutrients to multi-grain breads, side dishes, soups, cereals and vegetarian dishes.
Due to growing concerns about allergens such as gluten, one of the biggest trends is the use of grain substitutes. Marroquin International, in partnership with Best Cooking Pulses Inc., recently launched a line of organic, gluten-free pea ingredients including green and yellow whole pea flours, green and yellow split pea flours, pea fiber and chickpea flour. These products are processed in a gluten-free facility and can be used like wheat in many applications. Pea products are high in fiber and protein and low in fat and are shown in clinical studies to benefit to heart-health, blood sugar regulation and gut-health.
Many consumers today also have an allergy to or show some kind of intolerance to dairy products. In light of this, Diehl Organics has created an organic dairy-free creamer called Jerzee Organic 50-Palm DF2. This spray-dried organic blend of soymilk solids and palm oil has a unique flavor profile that will not overpower end products with soy flavor. The newly developed item contains naturally occurring soy isoflavones, dietary fiber and no cholesterol. Formulated without dairy fat, this product meets transfat-free requirements and can be used in a myriad of formulations including creamy frozen desserts, soups and sauces and milk replacers.
Emulsifiers and Processing Aids
The makers of the first organic soy lecithin have now created two more firsts in the processing world—a standardized fluid organic canola lecithin and a canola lecithin dry blend. Lecithin is used as an emulsifier, release agent or a wetting/dispersing agent in a wide variety of products ranging from chocolate, baby foods and snack bars to vegetable release sprays and personal care and is also used as a supplement. Canola lecithin was made specifically for those applications requiring a non-allergenic lecithin where soy allergens may be of concern. Like its soy lecithin, Clarkson Soy’s organic canola lecithins are produced using a physical process, eliminating the need for caustic chemicals such as hexane, which are used in conventional versions.
Organic Flavor and Fragrance Ingredients (OFFI), the newest addition to the Elan Group, recently launched organic glycerin and organic ethyl palmate, a mixture of fatty-acid, ethyl esters. Both are derived from sustainable organic palm oil from South America and have a wide range of uses in food and personal care. In food, ethyl palmate can be used as a carrier for flavor systems either by itself or in conjunction with organic glycerin. It also can be used in some cases to replace propylene glycol and other non-allowed carriers.
Premium and Specialty
Even amid the current economic climate, premium products with specialty ingredients are still a hot trend. Mountain Rose Herbs recently released a new line called Epicurean Organics, which includes gourmet seasoning blends, artisan salts, culinary oils, and whole vanilla beans, all of which are available in bulk for industrial food processing. Adding another point of differentiation, the farmers and producers of these herbs were given full negotiation rights in determining the price of their harvests under Mountain Rose Herbs’ Good Trade Program, which exceeds traditional fair trade standards. In addition, 2 percent of the proceeds from this line will be donated to the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
Another ingredient that just sounds gourmet is ForesTrade’s new black limón. Black limón is a variety of lime which offers a distinct fragrance and citrusy flavor. ForesTrade’s black limóns are cultivated by small-scale farmers in Guatemala, where the tropical climate and abundant sunshine are ideal for growing and sun-drying this variety of lime. The flavor attributes of this lime combine unique sour, herbal-citrus and fruity components with a subtle fermented aspect. This ingredient is available in a tea-bag cut and can be used in any fruit drink, tea, mate or ready-to-drink (RTD)beverage. It can also be used in seasoning packets and marinades.
Lastly, Parker Products recently introduced organic bakeable toffee. Because of its high fat content, typical toffee melts into a puddle of sugar, looking more like a toffee crater than a toffee chunk. Parker’s toffee is designed specifically to withstand the baking process, retaining its flavor and shape throughout processing. Bakeable toffee is available in a variety of flavors, with or without nuts, and can be included in baked goods including cookies, brownies, and cheesecake.
The organic personal care industry is growing fast, but because the National Organic Program (NOP) was originally written with food in mind, not shampoos and lotions, formulators who wanted to label products with the NOP seal didn’t have many tools to create certified personal care products. However, this year innovative ingredient developers released several new functional ingredients that are NOP-certified.
Earth Supplied Products has been one of the companies driving the development in personal care. It recently launched several firsts in the industry including three primary emulsifiers, two preservative alternatives and an organic surfactant—all NOP O-95 certified.
Emulsifiers are needed to bring water and oil together in many types of products, but until recently most organic emulsifiers were either on the low end (around 4) or the high end (around 16) of the Hydrophile Lipophile Balance (HLB) scale, leading to products that lacked body. ESP’s new SafeEmuls line has HLB ratings that are in the middle (around 8), which can help create the feeling consumers have come to expect in personal care products. SafeEmuls are all primary emulsifiers and work well with rice bran and soy lecithin as secondary emulsifiers.
In addition, ESP has created a SafeGuard line, which offers an organic antimicrobial alternative to preservatives usually used in personal care such as parabens, formaldehyde, quats and others. By combining a blend of synergistic, non-preservative hurdles, these products disrupt microbial homeostasis, preventing microorganisms from multiplying and causing them to remain inactive or die.
Lastly, ESP has developed SafeSurf organic surfactant, the first non-castile material available to make NOP-certified cleansers. Typical castile formulations have pHs as high as 9 and can be aggressive to both hair and skin. The SafeSurf material can be used in formulations with a neutral (7.0) pH, and creates a good foam as well.
OFFI, part of the Elan Group, has also helped lead this effort. Their two new personal care ingredients can be used in food as well, but were especially needed in the organic personal care industry. The first of these ingredients is an NOP-certified organic glycerin, which is widely used in cosmetics but not available in organic until this year. OFFI’s newest product is organic ethyl palmate, a mixture of fatty acid and ethyl esters. Organic ethyl palmate is oil-soluble and water-miscible and has a variety of applications in personal care and fragrance, as well as food. It can be used in certain applications for personal care as a carrier, solvent, emulsifier, co-emulsifier, emollient, moisturizer and lubricant.
What new ingredients will hit the market next? Manufacturers like you help determine the answer to that question. Let suppliers know what ingredients you need to create the most authentic, quality organic experience for your consumers. As with any market, supply follows demand. New organic ingredients do not become commercially available until companies believe demand has reached a threshold that exceeds the cost of production, plus a premium that covers their investment and business risk.
As the organic market continues to grow, support suppliers who are taking a risk to develop new products. By doing this, you will fuel further innovation and help encourage others to bring exciting new products to the organic processing industry.
Kat Schuett is the editorial director of Organic Processing Magazine. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.