Meet the Expert: Jeff Hodges

With nearly two decades of industry experience, Jeff Hodges is an expert in all things bakery and snack formulation. He said that this passion for baking started at a young age.

“I was captivated by how a simple combination of ingredients could create something delicious,” he said. “This curiosity about how ingredients interact stayed with me from childhood through college.”

At the University of Kansas, Mr. Hodges immersed himself in the world of mechanical engineering, but maintained his baking skills, experimenting with different ingredients and intriguing formats.

“Imagine my joy after graduation when I was offered a position that allowed me to combine my education and my love of baking and innovation,” she said.

Mr. Hodges graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and took up a position with Cereal Ingredients Inc. where he held a variety of roles including product development engineer, senior technologist and program manager. He later worked at Bimbo QSR as a senior new product specialist.

In August 2020, Mr. Hodges joined ADM as the Bakery, Snacks and Confectionery Applications Group Manager in Decatur, Ill. Every day is different in his role at ADM, Mr. Hodges said, bringing new challenges in solving a variety of baking applications.

“I enjoy being pushed daily to find new solutions, and am grateful to be working alongside the incredibly talented and skilled scientists at ADM,” he said. “It is exciting to see how new ingredients can be used in different ways to overcome formulation hurdles while increasing our technical expertise in an ever-expanding environment.
expanding the range of baked applications and even some non-baked ones”.

How has the use of alternative/low-calorie sweeteners in baked goods stimulated the movement best for you?

Consumers are increasingly scrutinizing product labels as they take a more proactive approach to supporting their overall wellness.
being. To do this, many consumers seek to reduce calories and limit added or total sugars. Our research shows that reducing sugar becomes 62% more important to consumers buying low-calorie foods and beverages. However, consumers will not sacrifice a pleasurable sensory experience, with 82% rating both taste and sugar reduction as important in their purchasing decisions. Since baked goods often derive much of their total calorie count from added sugars, any reduction in sugar in a formulation has the potential to constitute a significant reduction in calories in finished baked goods. Bakers can address these increasing consumer demands for fewer calories and reduced sugar content by using alternative sweeteners that contain few or no calories.

What are common alternative sweeteners for baked goods? For which applications are they best suited?

Stevia is one of the most common and popular alternative sweeteners most often used for baked goods. Our SweetRight Edge stevia is calorie-free and has a zero glycemic index, and is exceptional for low-sugar, low-calorie baked goods.

With a similar structure to fructose, allulose is also a fantastic option for baked goods. Plus, our SweetRight allulose tastes and works like traditional sugar, maintaining the flavor profile and mouthfeel consumers love in their baked goods, cereals, confectionery, and snacks. Allulose occurs naturally in wheat and dried fruit, contains no sugar alcohols, and is not listed on product nutrition labels as added sugar, making it attractive to conscientious consumers who closely review ingredient lists. and nutritional information.

Additionally, SweetRight Reduced Sugar Glucose Syrup (RSGS) is an excellent alternative, allowing for greater formulation flexibility in applications such as protein bars and snacks. When used in low-sugar formulations, RSGS can replace corn syrup without sacrificing functionality, providing comparable binding and viscosity to this traditional sweetener.

When considering alternative solutions, are there other complementary ingredients that can be taken advantage of?

When leveraging alternative sweeteners in baked goods formulations, it is also important to consider the broader consumer appeal and demands. Reducing sugar and calories is top of mind for many consumers and often goes hand in hand when looking for functional ingredients to incorporate into their diet. In fact, reducing sugar becomes 56% more important to shoppers looking for functional foods and beverages.

ADM/Matsutani LLC’s innovative soluble dietary fiber solution, Fibersol, satisfies consumers’ desire for added fiber in functional applications, while also acting as a complementary ingredient to reduce sugar without affecting aroma, flavor, or flavor. texture. Fibersol restores integrity through structural and binding qualities that can be lost when sugar is reduced or removed entirely. Additionally, product developers can use Fibersol in place of sugar, syrups, and honey. Fibersol is a good addition to reduced-sugar cakes, crackers, breads, cakes, icings and coatings, maintaining a desirable texture with each application.

What are the common formulation challenges when using these sweeteners? How can they be solved?

We often see various formulation challenges when reducing sugar and replacing it with an alternative sweetener, especially in baked goods. Sugar plays a vital role beyond providing sweetness; it is crucial for functionality. All sensory factors must be rebalanced, reconstructed, or replaced to ensure consumer acceptance of low-sugar formulations.

Methods for sweetener optimization are highly dependent on the type of baked offering and the preferred sweetener system. For bakery formulations that are no longer as sweet, such as breads, only a slight adjustment in yeast is needed to achieve sugar reduction. Alternatively, cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, and bars can use a simple one-for-one swapping of ingredients to get the desired results, like SweetRight Edge stevia instead of sugar or RSGS instead of corn syrup. Plus, replacing sucrose with our GrainSweet Glucose-Fructose Syrup is a simple swap that brings sweetness, functionality, and cost optimization to a variety of applications, including bread and bakery.

For almost all other bakery offerings, bakers must test the formulation with incremental changes until sensory and sugar reduction goals are met in the finished product. Additionally, switching from traditional granulated sugar systems to liquid sugar may require minor adjustments related to water content and preferred sweetness level. However, further formulation modifications may be necessary when moving from a conventional sweetener to a lower sugar option.

How can bakers ensure they find the best sweetener for their baked goods?

A collaborative supplier is an important piece of the puzzle when bakers are considering the right sweetener for their baked goods. We partner with bakers to overcome formulation challenges and meet calorie reduction goals with optimized sweetener solutions, formulation ingenuity, and our comprehensive sugar reduction approach. By identifying the best sweetener or combination of sweeteners, our technical experts help bakery brands create low-calorie, low-sugar bakery and snack items.

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