New European-style Curry of Restaurants in Japan

Curry consulting company in Japan predicted that the curry trend in 2022 would be “new European curry”.

 

 

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Organic Trends: Health, Sustainability, Protein Ingredients Driving Innovation

Gaynor Selby wrote . . . . . . . . .

Since the pandemic, health and well-being have come into sharpened focus, which, in turn, continues to drive the application of organic ingredients across a range of F&B products. Organics are gaining ground from conscious consumption in ready-to-drink beverages to lighter alcohol trends and the timely high demand for organic whey and lactose in the infant formula space.

According to Innova Market Insights, the use of organic ingredients in food and beverage launches is increasing globally, featuring a +5% year-over-year growth when comparing 2020 and 2021 launches.

In 2021, the top category of global product launches tracked with organic ingredients was Baby & Toddlers (19%). In 2021, Botanical Ingredients was the leading ingredient category among the global product launches tracked with organic ingredients.

The top positionings of global product launches tracked with organic ingredients in 2021 are Organic (86%), Gluten-Free (31%), and Vegan (29%).

A range of suppliers and food and beverage innovators speak to FoodIngredientsFirst about the consumer trends and market dynamics in the organics arena and how organic ingredients are expected to grow in the years ahead.

Colorful, powerful organics

Botanical Ingredients was the leading the ingredient category in global product launches tracked with organic ingredients.

Maartje Hendrickx, market development manager, GNT Group, explains what is driving the organic ingredients at the company and how it is leveraging current trends.

“Health and sustainability credentials are more important than ever for consumers and these two trends are driving demand for organic food and drink. Organic farming standards generally feature practices that maintain ecological balance and restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers,” she says.

GNT’s EU and USDA organic-certified Exberry Coloring Foods can help organic brands create colorful food and drink while maintaining clean and clear labels. They’re made from edible fruits, vegetables, and plants using only water and physical processing methods.

“This means they’re considered to be food ingredients rather than food additives in many parts of the world, including the EU and the UK. We also have a strong commitment to the environment and recently unveiled our ambitious plans to make GNT the leader in our field on sustainability,” Hendrickx continues.

The company recently launched two new yellow and green Exberry Organics liquids, adding to its red, purple, pink, blue and orange options. Exberry Organics “Fruit & Veg Yellow” is made from organic safflower and organic apple and Exberry Organics “Veg Green” is created from organic safflower and organic spirulina.

“They’re both compliant with Organic Regulation (EU) 2018/848. The new shades are highly versatile and can be used in almost any application, including beverages, confectionery, dairy, snacks, baked goods, and plant-based products,” Hendrickx notes.

Organic claims in infant formula market

Katrine Helene Kristensen, industry marketing manager, dairy & bakery, Arla Foods Ingredients.

Katrine Helene Kristensen, industry marketing manager, Dairy & Bakery, for Arla Foods Ingredients, cites consumer interest in naturalness and health as the key drivers of organics.

“Another sector where organic products are clearly driving growth is in the global infant formula market, where more than 15% of launches in the last three years have featured organic claims,” Kristensen points out.

Organic whey and lactose are in high demand in the infant formula market.

“The sector is expected to grow by 10% over the next five years, but with demand for organic whey and lactose rapidly outpacing supply, insufficient availability of infant grade organic raw materials has – to date – threatened to hold back growth,” she explains.

“That is one of the reasons we introduced our patented milk fractionation technology ‘Origin by Arla Foods Ingredients’, to enable manufacturers in the early life nutrition sectors to easily bypass organic whey shortages,” she adds.

The US continues to face a baby formula shortage, with parents scrambling to find supplies. Over the past few months, the problem has been brewing due to compounding issues, including the supply chain crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The situation escalated further after Abbott Nutrition voluntarily recalled a number of its products after an FDA investigation was launched in connection with four children being hospitalized, whereas two died.

Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI) is currently using its new technology to manufacture the organic Baby&Me brand for Arla Foods. AFI expects to launch its first organic private label infant formula solutions based on the technology during 2022.

In addition to organic whey and lactose, there continues to be a growing demand for organic functional protein products in the health-conscious consumer segment, highlights Kristensen.

“To tap into this, we launched our first organic product range, Nutrilac MicelPure Organic, which is suitable for health and performance applications, such as ready-to-drink high-protein beverages and powder shakes. It also works well in food applications such as cheeses, yogurts, and ice cream,” she says.

Conscious consumption

Mixing organics at home is outliving its popularity established during early quarantine periods with the forced closure of clubs and bars, explains Cornelia Kerschbaumer, director of marketing and communication at Austria Juice.

“Originally, this development began during the lockdowns through delivery services of the gastronomy – but in the meantime, it has already reached the supermarkets,” she says.

“Austria Juice has reacted promptly to this trend and developed popular basic products for mixed drinks in organic quality, like Organic Cola, Organic Tonic, Organic Berry, Organic Bitter Orange, Organic Bitter Lemon and Organic Ginger Ale.”

The organic range also expands in alcoholic beverages with a greater mix of organic ingredients, unconventional flavors and a comprehensive overall benefit for well-being and health, notes Kerschbaumer.“Austria Juice has responded to this trend with cider based on 100% organic, suitable ingredients, a higher juice content and new innovative flavor combinations. With alcohol levels of around 5% volume, this light alcoholic beverage category in different flavors also appeals to consumers’ need to drink light and fruity refreshments.”

Growth opportunities in organics

Arla Foods Ingredients launched its first organic ingredient, Nutrilac MicelPure, in August 2020 and Kristensen explains how the launch of the organic micellar casein isolate marked the start of the company’s long-term strategy of filling the gap in the market for natural, organic protein ingredients.

“The company will continue its focus on the organic sector in 2022, and it will reveal details about several projects throughout the year,” she concludes.

Meanwhile, at GNT, Hendrickx believes the company’s newly expanded Exberry Organics range “opens up more opportunities than ever before” for organic brands to create vibrant food and drink with completely clean and clear labels.

“While health and sustainability are the key drivers for most organic purchases, it’s essential to ensure that these products look appealing as well. Consumers can see organic products as boring and have a negative perception of their taste. Vibrant shades can transform those perceptions and ensure organic food and drink looks truly appetizing on the shelf,” she says.

Source: Food Ingredients 1st

Charts: Trends of U.K. Protein Transition

How Chains Are Challenging Traditional Chinese Cooking

Zhong Shuru wrote . . . . . . . . .

Chinese cuisine defies easy characterization. It encompasses a wide range of regional sub-cuisines, each defined by local tastes, techniques, and ingredients. Even staple dishes like fried tomatoes and eggs or twice-cooked pork can look and taste radically different depending on the chef’s background. More complex dishes rarely have a standard recipe and require a highly refined skillset and years of practice to master.

Perhaps that’s one reason why Chinese have been slow to embrace the consistency of chain restaurants. According to a 2021 industry report, chains accounted for just 15% of all food service businesses in China in 2020, compared to 61% in the United States and 53% in Japan.

That gap is closing quickly, however. In recent years, Chinese malls have been flooded by an eclectic range of mid- to high-end franchise dining options, led by brands like Haidilao, Home Original Chicken, and Xibei Youmiancun. The largest of these, hot pot giant Haidilao, has 935 outlets and has begun expanding overseas, though it still accounts for just 5% of China’s hot pot market.

Chains are not a new concept in China. For years, low-cost fast-food brands like Shaxian Delicacies, Lanzhou Beef Noodles, and Braised Chicken With Rice have battled for market share. But their management model, wherein stores are operated by independent franchisees with little oversight, results in a far lower degree of standardization and consistency than Western fast-food chains like McDonalds.

What sets the new generation of Chinese chain restaurants apart from earlier Chinese chains is their use of “central kitchens.” These facilities are essentially factories where ingredients purchased by the chain’s headquarters are prepared, either partially or completely, according to a standardized procedure before being sent to restaurants.

Take the Chinese Sauerkraut Fish chain, for example. Most ingredients used in the chain’s South China region stores are processed at three central kitchens. These kitchens gut and cut the fish, package it with seasonings, and chop up vegetables. Once these pre-processed ingredients arrive at the chain’s outlets, all chefs have to do is boil the soup, blanch the fish meat, and drizzle oil on top — basic tasks that can be completed within 15 minutes of a customer placing their order.

Central kitchens may run counter to Chinese culinary tradition, which emphasizes local, seasonal ingredients, but they free chains from the hassle of local supply chains. According to a department head at Jiumaojiu Group, which operates restaurants specializing in Northwest Chinese cuisine, the company purchases ingredients in bulk quantities from suppliers throughout the country. The company directly oversees the production of some key ingredients, such as pork, to ensure quality and consistency. Chain restaurants are products of industrialized agriculture — and their success is another sign that the traditional relationship between food and the land is breaking down.

The central kitchen model also has little use for chefs. A good chef used to be the guarantor of a decent meal, with many patrons basing their decision to visit a certain restaurant purely on its chef’s reputation. By contrast, central kitchens operate on an assembly line model: All manner of specialized industrial machines, such as vegetable dicers and bone saws, are involved in the processing of ingredients. The culinary experience no longer lies in the hands of chefs, meaning they aren’t required to be masters of their craft; their prior experience is irrelevant; and they’re easy to replace.

As for menus, central kitchen-based chains often adopt a “less is more” approach. As anyone who has handled a Chinese menu can attest, traditional Chinese restaurants typically offer a wide range of dishes, and better establishments continually update their menus to create new options for regular patrons.

That is not the case at many newer chain restaurants. The shorter their menus are, the simpler quality control becomes. The goal is efficiency, achieved by minimizing the time it takes to produce each dish. Chinese Sauerkraut Fish takes this minimalist approach to the extreme, offering diners just one flavor, one type of fish, and one level of spice.

The financial advantages of this model are obvious. Central kitchens allow Chinese chain restaurants to save on raw materials, labor, and rent. (Because the vast majority of ingredients have already been prepared elsewhere, outlets don’t need large kitchen spaces.) Carefully designed assembly lines and standardized outputs make expansion a matter of copy-and-pasting.

For some chains, central kitchens have even become a key business in their own right. Haidilao subsidiary Shuhai Supply Chain Solutions uses the chain’s central kitchen model to supply ingredients to over 2,000 outlets of more than 300 restaurant brands. As of the end of 2019, Shuhai’s overall sales had surpassed 6 billion yuan ($942 million) — more than that of many of Haidilao’s leading competitors.

The pandemic has reinforced chains’ competitive edge. Rising labor costs and rents, combined with overworked urban consumers’ growing desire for solitary and fast dining experiences, have put chain restaurants with central kitchens at a significant advantage. At the same time, more and more households have begun to purchase pre-prepared meals — that is, ingredients that have already been thoroughly processed and which the buyer can simply throw into a pan and heat up after coming home from a hard day of work. Even our dinner tables are being integrated into the chain system.

But does the rise of chain restaurants really signal the end of traditional Chinese cuisine? Perhaps I’m an optimist, but I’m not so sure. Chain restaurants still represent a niche market, heavily concentrated in large cities and catered to young people who value efficiency. Competition in these oversaturated markets is cutthroat: Many Chinese chains invest tremendous resources in social media marketing, hoping to become the next must-visit destination for young influencers. This tempers the chains’ appeal to other consumers, including families and high-end luxury diners.

It’s also worth noting that central kitchen-reliant chains are concentrated in a handful of cuisines, such as hot pot. The heady spice of the mala flavor profile is not particularly demanding in terms of ingredients or culinary techniques, and it helps mask some of the deficiencies of the central kitchen model. Demand for spicy food has grown in recent years, but there are still plenty of diners who have little tolerance for peppers, and who prefer independent restaurants with a more diverse flavor profile.

China is not immune from the “McDonaldization” of society. Chains promise investors a high degree of control and efficiency while producing steady, predictable results. They’ll probably continue to grow in the coming years. But it’s unlikely they’ll overturn traditional Chinese culinary culture. If anything, there’s an argument to be made that many of today’s independent restaurant operators will outlast the current crop of chains. After all, when a business relies on machine-like processes to expand, all it takes is a competitor with a slightly better machine to leave them in the dust.

Source: Sixth Tone

10 Food Trends Popularized by the Pandemic

Emily Heil wrote . . . . . . . . .

This year, many of us spent a lot more time in our kitchens than we could have imagined, turning out multiple meals a day and sometimes getting bored with our own rinse-and-repeat repertoires.

We were also cut off from our usual communities and seeking connections. And it turns out that bored cooks plus isolation is a recipe for… lots and lots of food trends, which bloomed on our screens this year like a thousand flowers.

Each of the everybody’s-making-it dishes that popped up this year spoke to our hungers — for sustenance, maybe, for comfort, for inspiration or just for novelty. Even if we didn’t join in for all of them, just watching was a good distraction.

Here are 10 things that fed us — or at least populated our social media feeds — in 2020.

Frog bread

Edible, lumpy amphibians with googly eyes were the antidote to the precise and lovely ethos of the #breadart trend that we didn’t know we needed. Bakers delighted in their imperfect creations, sharing photos of their goofy, cartoonish bakes — along with some badly needed joy.

Dalgona coffee

Many of us have given up regular visits to our favourite barista, and so dalgona coffee, a South Korean drink in which instant coffee, sugar and milk are whipped into a foamy blend, was a (super-sweet) stand-in for our coffeeshop fix.

Cloud bread

This airy, meringue-like concoction, made from egg whites, cornstarch and sugar, became a TikTok darling during the summer. It’s relatively tasteless, but its popularity probably can be chalked up to its ease of preparation — and that weirdly satisfying moment when people tear into them on camera.

Charcuterie chalets

Move over, gingerbread. This year, we fashioned abodes shingled with salami, sided with breadsticks and decorated with almonds. Maybe it’s because many of us have been housebound this year that we created odes to our too-familiar surroundings in a meaty medium?

Sourdough

Sourdough baking, like bingeing Tiger King, was a very early-pandemic vibe, fuelled by yeast shortages and an excess of time at home. People nurtured their starters as if they were particularly needy children, traded recipes for their castoff dough and photographed the pillowy interiors and artfully slashed crusts like proud parents.

Carrot bacon

These seasoned, crunchy strips of root vegetable became one of the few non-carby breakout food stars of the pandemic after vegan chef Tabitha Brown’s TikTok recipe got 3.6 million views. Bonus trend points: They’re crisped in an air fryer, the pandemic cook’s favourite kitchen appliance.

Canning

There’s something reassuring about having rows of gleaming jars of food you’ve harvested and “put up” for the long winter. That might be a #cottagecore fantasy for most of us, but enough people bought into it this year that retailers sold out of jars and lids.

Windowsill scallions

Our dreams of self-sufficiency were further fed by the craze for turning kitchen scraps into crops — even if only on a very small scale. Beyond offering a boost to a salad (or just a way to entertain a cooped-up kid), those little green sprouts might have been the glimmer of hope we needed.

Fancy focaccia

Dough became the canvas for legions of newly minted flatbread artists, who took to the trend of studding loaves with baked-in designs for edible masterpieces (van Gogh never had it so good). Floral motifs were the most popular, with herbs and vegetables forming intricate blooms.

Pancake cereal

Tiny pancakes piled in a bowl and drenched in syrup sounds like a breakfast that only Buddy the Elf would love. But plenty of TikTokkers joined in, apparently wooed by the combination of cuteness (miniature foods are a whole genre online) and the perennial popularity of cereal, and the platform dubbed the mash-up its top food trend of 2020.

Source: The Winnipeg Free Press