Food and Beverage Trends: Firms Are Going Natural to Meet Consumer Demand, and ELNs Can Help
The food and beverage industry has it tough. It seems like as soon as they are hitting their stride with the current food trends, we switch it up on them. From whole milk to skim milk to no milk and back to whole milk, I have lived through the cycle. And it certainly does seem to be a cycle. My parents were raised on meat and potatoes. I was raised on anything microwaveable. Now we’re back to meat and potatoes, but with a twist. Though we want to go natural, our society still demands a touch of convenience. This can be difficult when food and beverage firms need to add preservatives, sweeteners and other additives to keep packaged food looking and tasting great.
Food and beverage R&D labs are tasked with the responsibility of creating products that are healthy, tasty and safe. Food scientists are as much part of the research world as synthetic chemists or microbiologists. In fact, food scientists often perform the same types of experiments as these “classic” research professions, with the added bonus of creating food. With the consumer demands facing this field, food and beverage labs can benefit greatly from the features of an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN). We examine how the Accelrys Notebook can help your firm go natural to meet this ever-changing interest:
Fruit and vegetable infusion. When it comes to produce, I always mean the best. While at the store, I have grand ideas of how I will incorporate spinach or Brussels sprouts into a week’s worth of meals. But by the end of the week, I’m throwing away the wilted remains of my good intentions. Cooking with fresh fruits and veggies can be tough, as the shelf lives of raw produce can be short. A great alternative to fresh produce, however, is fruit and vegetable infusion into processed foods. But incorporating fruits and veggies isn’t as straightforward as dropping them in the pot. Textures, flavors and chemical compositions can change drastically during heating or processing, leading to undesirable results. Because of this, R&D labs spend a good deal of time optimizing product ingredients. An ELN can help scientists streamline these processes by providing the option to standardize experiment layouts and clone experiments. This is especially helpful in labs that repeat many of the same experimental procedures.
Superfoods. Acai berries, goji berries and chia seeds are the new kids in town, and are probably here to stay. These superfoods are believed to have significant nutritional value, especially in terms of omega fatty acids and antioxidant composition. Recent research has found that chia seeds can be used to produce a chia gel, which may provide a new, healthy substitute for traditional food product thickeners and emulsifiers. The gel is comparable to the commonly used guar gum and gelatin in baked goods and sauces. New food developments like chia gel have the potential to generate hefty earnings for firms that develop and patent them first. An ELN can support patent protection and help confirm intellectual property rights. By creating a chronologic, digital project record with witnessing, your firm can be confident that you are adequately protecting your intellectual property.
Natural sweeteners. The market for natural sweeteners is relatively young and blossoming. With consumers turning away from artificial sweeteners, Stevia, monk fruit and erythritol are in position to take the place of super-sweet synthetic sugars. These natural sweeteners have varying levels of sweetness and chemical properties, making them difficult substitutes for sugar or artificial sweeteners. Firms invest significant time and energy in creating the perfect formulations so that bitterness, a common side effect of natural sweeteners, can be masked. An ELN and digital notebook library can help scientists organize these numerous trials and formulations. The powerful search feature allows users to search notebooks using a number of parameters, such as project, experiment type and date intervals.
As food and beverage companies go natural with new product formulations and invest significantly in research to generate the best products, firms should consider implementing an ELN to help streamline R&D processes. Visit the Accelrys website to learn more about how the Accelrys Notebook can support R&D at your firm.