Der lowdown on die ingredients – technological developments in the European food industries

The Food Ingredients Europe convention captured global technological advances.

Assisted by yellow traffic signals that precede green as well as red lights, German taxis barrel into intersections at maximum speed the instant the light turns green, speeding traffic flow through the city. The breakneck pace and efficiency reflects the business activity at the Food Ingredients Europe (FIE) convention itself.

“This is a business as opposed to a social event,” says Peter Lytle, general manager, R-Tech, Arden Hills, Minn.

“People are here to find an ingredient and buy it,” says Nelson Wurth, international sales and marketing manager with Riviana Foods Inc. “The people who come here are the decision makers.”

Attendees get more than information on products, however. They obtain a global, birds-eye view of the food industry and what its future holds.


Now in its seventh year, FIE’s increasing importance as a worldwide trade show mirrors the more global nature of ingredient suppliers, food processing, and analytical technologies.

“FIE is the most important trade show, in terms of business booked, in which our company participates,” says Paul Brewer, managing director, Contract Research Services International (CSRI), Sun Prairie, Wis.

“First-time attendees particularly benefit by exhibiting through the U.S. Pavilion,” says Wim Heusdens, T&G Assoc. Inc., Glenview, Ill., the North American agent for Expoconsult USA. The prime location and conveniences such as “turnkey” booths have resulted in a 25% increase in participation over the previous FIE in Dusseldorf, he adds.

FIE offers an opportunity to help the world understand what the U.S. has to offer in the way of value-added agricultural products such as rice and raisins. For another example, U.S. corn-based starches function differently from Europe’s potato-based starches, says Heusdens.

U.S. attendees, in turn, learn about innovations at both U.S. and European companies.


An ingredient’s regulatory status in the U.S. often differs from that status in Europe. Keeping tabs on technological developments, however, is key to the U.S. food industry’s healthy future.

For example, Griffith Laboratories offers Stargold brand cultures of micrococcus and Lactobacillus plantarum to maintain freshness of raw and processed fish, meats and poultry. (Stargold cultures are not approved in the United States for this use.) The bacterial preservative properties are achieved through pH reduction and inhibition of less desirable organisms. Catalase activity reduces oxidative reactions that cause rancidity and color changes. Additionally, the cultures stimulate flavor development with the formation of free amino acids.

DMV International (division of Campina Melkunie, Netherlands) supplies lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase, bioactive whey proteins for pharmaceutical and infant formula use.

Research by the New Zealand Milk Board demonstrates the pharmaceutical properties of Stollait, an ingredient from “immune” milk. Cows inoculated with deactivated human pathogens secrete antibodies to these pathogens in milk. Products containing these concentrated antibodies are available as ingredients. Unique ingredients often depend on uncommon processing technologies.

Raps & Co., Germany, has a production facility that obtains herb and spice extracts from supercritical fluid extraction. Unusual products include “green pepper,” a heatless black pepper extract that results when piperine is extracted separately from the pepper flavor.

Valio Engineering Ltd., Helsinki, Finland, uses commercial-scale chromatography to separate lactose from whey, milk or UF-permeate.

Paul Brewer of CSRI notes an analytical advance in the form of an artificial gastrointestinal tract from TNO Nutrition and Food Research, the Netherlands. The system mimics peristaltic action, bile secretions and absorption of nutrients through completion of the small intestines. Users can monitor substrates at each stage of digestion.

FIE indicates food marketing trends as seen from ingredient suppliers’ perspectives. MSG, artificial flavoring and fat replacers abound though perhaps not with the furor seen in the United States.

Purac Biochem, Holland, introduced a sodium lactate powder for use in savory flavor enhancement.

The popularity of herbal extracts continued. Barnett & Foster International, U.K., sampled blueberry and blackberry fruit yogurts with alder-flower, yarrow and peppermint.

Beghin-Meiji Industries presented Actilight, a fructooligosaccharides-based fat replacer with nutritional advantages.


A new product session–presented on the show floor–ran concurrently with technical presentations given in upstairs conference rooms. The plenary session covered three topics. All technical presentations at FIE were in English.

R. Langlais, Coca-Cola, Germany, gave an update on the status of the European Community (EC) Directive on Ingredient Labeling. Great debates are raging on preservatives, sulfites and several miscellaneous additives. To obtain consensus by 1994 is optimistic; 1996 is more realistic.

B. Arnett, Albert Fisher, U.K., defended ISO 9000, often criticized as “paper heavy.” ISO 9000 can meet EC’s requirements for the Council Directive on the Official Control of Foodstuff. It also supports due diligence as a defense under the Food Safety act in the United Kingdom.

E. Windhab, ETH Lebensmittelwissenschaft Verfahrenstechnik, Switzerland, discussed details on how mechanical input to a food’s matrix alters molecular structures that affect the functional properties of components such as proteins, emulsifiers or crystalline systems.

Studies at the Institute fur Getreideverarbeitung, Germany, are investigating algae as an economically feasible source of pH- and heat-stable natural colors. Phycobilins–in blue, pink and red-violet–as well as carotinoids and chlorophylls can be produced.

The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, U.K., took a systematic approach with food components as causative factors in various pediatric health problems. Though foods such as wheat, eggs and certain fruits are associated to various degrees with skin conditions, migraines, enuresis and so on, specific additives also play a part.

Appreciating the opportunity for the international exchange of information, GDL–the German affiliate of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)–concurrently held its annual conference so members could attend both events.

While U.S. citizens need not face fast-paced European traffic patterns, we must carefully watch fast-paced technical developments.


From the start of their food careers, everyone from product developers to marketers cruises stores to obtain information on new products, product positioning and labels. “European store-checks are a great opportunity to see what your peer companies are doing and to evaluate category developments in other countries,” says Edie Hanson, StepAhead Inc., Glenview, Ill.

While frozen entrees as a category are well developed in the U.K., they are not as prominent in Holland and Germany. Germany has a tradition of shelf-stable meals–a category that struggles in the United States. A much greater variety of dairy products exists in Europe, says Hanson. For example, Germany has tzaziki quark, a savory-flavored cultured product for use on potatoes. She also notes one French hypermart with some 400 varieties of yogurt. Strained, 10% fat Greek yogurt is a counter-trend to low-fat products. Greek yogurt grows in popularity in the U.K., Germany and Italy.

Not all ideas directly transfer to the United States. However, store-checks

that seed the imagination are a bonus in any European trip.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Business News Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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