New “Free From” Highlights as Innovators Eliminate Artificial “Nasties”, Gluten and Animal Products

Nov 23, 2022 — The term “free from” is ubiquitous in the food industry, referring in particular to formulations that void artificial additives, animal products or potentially harmful allergens. The appeal of the label continues to drive functional innovations, which work identically to traditional recipes.

FoodIngredientsFirst reports live from the show floor of Free From Functional Food Expo in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, speaking to a variety of exhibitors specializing in gluten-free bakery, versatile cow-free cheeses, clean label tapioca, and a new variety of Japanese ponzu .

Melted, spreadable and versatile vegan cheese
Scottish company Bute Island Foods is showcasing its range of Sheese brand certified vegan cheese alternatives that are 100% dairy-free, gluten-free and kosher certified.

“We are the UK’s first vegan cheese company since 1989 and are now the UK’s largest cheese brand. All of our products are coconut oil based and we offer the largest variety of flavors to give vegans the taste experience they have been missing,” says Tim Brand, International Account Manager.

“Our best sellers are cheddar cheese, ground black pepper and spring onion sauces. We found that they are really good and popular and can be mixed into pasta sauce or eaten on their own.”

The Sheese Maker offers a variety of recipes, which are compatible with their product, including vegan Mediterranean-style skewers, risottos, cheesy shepherd’s pie, puff pastry slices, baked potatoes, and pizza.

However, Sheese can also be integrated into fully vegan sweet desserts, such as cheesecakes, blueberry bread, chocolate tartlets, creamy truffles, rice pudding, and carrot cake.

“Achieving texture is a common challenge with alternative cheeses, and this is the hardest part,” Brand points out. “We use potato starch as one of our key ingredients there, so it gives it a crumbly texture while still being creamy. The coconut oil allows it to melt, which is the best feature.”

In terms of flavor, Brand notes, “Soybean oil is too overbearing in flavor and cashew burns too easily when used in foods like pizza, so we definitely think coconut oil is the way to go.” “.

Boba clean and convenient
Bubble tea has been trending for some time as a popular Asian beverage that is now craved in Western markets, thanks in part to consumer appetite for discovery and TikTok content featuring the drink.

At the Free From Functional Food Expo, Natural Isle introduces its clean label tapioca pearls used in the drink.

“We are a tapioca brand that makes chemical-free tapioca. So there are no preservatives, artificial additives, colors, flavors or pigments. We are a Taiwanese brand and we have our own factory, so we do everything ourselves,” says Sophie Hall, product manager.

“Our tapioca has a variety of different flavors. Our most classic is the brown sugar tapioca. We also add fiber to our tapioca – each packet of tapioca contains around six grams of fiber. So I always jokingly tell people that if you have enough tapioca, you don’t need to have your vegetables for the day.”

In terms of color, the Natural Isle shade is slightly lighter compared to typical tapioca boba due to the lack of added colorants.

“The essence of the company is that we want to produce something that is tasty but healthy at the same time, that really represents the delicacy of Taiwan, which is tapioca pearls. You can add it to your choice of beverage: oat milk, milk, coffee, tea, or whatever you prefer,” Hall points out.

“Since our products are frozen because they don’t have preservatives, you can cook them in the microwave, which is the fastest way. For commercial use microwaves, that’s around 1400 watts for about 50 seconds,” she details.

“For home use, that’s about 800 to 900 watts in about a minute and 45 seconds to two minutes. You can also boil or steam it, both methods taking four to six minutes, until the tapioca is semi-transparent.”

natural way of drinking
Soof Drinks is showcasing its range of soda alternatives, which are sweet carbonated water-based drinks made from “nothing but fruits, vegetables and herbs”.

“There are no additives, sugar, sweeteners or preservatives. All the ingredients fit on the front of the packaging, which is a very simple and easy concept,” says Nicole Horsmans, co-founder of the brand.

“We have our drinks in cans, made with sparkling water. We also sell syrups, which you can dilute yourself with sparkling water, which is a more sustainable option. We heat our products through pasteurization, which helps with conservation.”

Soof offers five different flavors in syrup form: Carrot, Ginger, and Apple; lemongrass and pear; and apple and lime. “We also have three different canned drinks: blackcurrant, lavender, and apple; rose, cardamom, pear and apple; and lemon, mint and apple,” says Horsmans.

“We work with a Dutch supplier who helps us to source sustainably. Our tea comes from China and Argentina, while things like apples come from Central or Eastern Europe, depending on the time of year.”

gluten free pastry
Meanwhile, gluten-free dough maker Puff & Butter introduces its range of products, the culmination of seven years of research.

“Getting this type of gluten-free dough that works like a traditional pastry is very difficult,” says Ildemaro Orellana, general manager. “Gluten-free doughs are difficult to work with. It’s easier to make a bread, cookie, or muffin, but laminated dough is tricky. We had to find the right ingredients and the necessary plant fibers to do this, which we have achieved.”

The company’s own formula is based on fibers from corn, rice and tapioca starch. “But we also use psyllium and xanthan gum, which are the more standard gluten-free ingredients for this,” Orellana adds.

“We have puff pastry products, such as croissants, pain au chocolats, danishes, palmiers and cheese sticks. We are also working on more products.”

Yuzu-infused ponzu
Japanese brand Mizkan presents its yuzu-flavored ponzu, which is a soy sauce with vinegar and citrus.

“It gives a unique, umami and citric flavor. We are a 200 year old Japanese company specializing in sushi vinegar. Vegan and gluten-free”, highlights Jasper Knol, business development manager.

“We are seeing the yuzu flavor emerging more and more in the market, in everything from craft beer to ponzu and other ingredients, because it is citrusy and so versatile,” he continues.

In recent reports, yuzu has been noted for seeing a rise in popularity, particularly in hybrid combinations with other flavors, such as yuzu-lavender.

“Ponzu is also being used more and more, like in beef tataki. In general, we see the influence of Japanese tastes increasing in restaurants. The best example of this is probably the poke bowl, which has gained popularity.

By Benjamin Ferrer, reporting live Free From Functional Food Expo in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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