Considering the wide range of ingredients that go into grain-based foods, it’s hardly surprising that the price of some ingredient or other poses challenges just about every year. If not eggs and dry milk, as was the case in 2008, it may be cocoa powder and emulsifiers as is the case presently. Such challenges mean efficient use of all ingredients is crucial with extenders and enzymes standing out as two common options available to grain-based foods formulators.

Manufacturers should remember to consider all expenses, including storage and freight, when selecting cost-effective ingredients, said

Brian Fatula, team manager, bakery/fats and oils, for Danisco, based in New Century, Kas.

Hidden costs, in particular, need to be avoided, he said. For example, switching to a less expensive ingredient might lead to more "cripples" or defective products. Going from 1% defective product in a production run to 5% or 7% might mean a company has to appoint a worker to "baby-sit" the production line.

Danisco this year dedicated a web site at that gives an overview of opportunities available for cost reduction within the food industry, including the grain-based foods industry.

Lallemand, Montreal, recently published a Lallemand Baking Update titled "Bread Formula Optimization" that recommends keeping overall formula costs in mind.

"Every time a price changes, you look at, ‘How can I replace it?’" said Jan van Eijk, research director for baking ingredients for Lallemand. "But a lot of ingredients are multifunctional."

The ingredient may provide any of a range of functions such as taste, volume and structure, he said.

Cocoa powder roller coaster

Cocoa powder may provide taste and color to baked foods, but costs tend to fluctuate for this ingredient.

"It’s a roller coaster effect all the time," said Terry Geertz, applications chemist for Sethness Caramel Color, Lincolnwood, Ill. "It’s up, it’s down. It’s up, it’s down."

Prices are up this year. For example, cocoa powder at 22%-24% natural (East coast points) was trading at $1.55 @ $1.70 per lb on Oct. 23, 2009, which compared with 95c per lb a year ago.

Replacing cocoa powder, especially its flavor, may be problematic. Mr. Fatula of Danisco said bakers may wonder, "Can I have a chocolate cake without cocoa?"

To save on costs, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Litiz, Pa., recommends choosing a cocoa powder with a strong chocolate profile and a rich dark color. For example, using a specific Gerken cocoa powder from Cargill with a rich color and strong flavor profile may get a desired effect with less use, thus saving money.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate also suggests switching to a 10%-12% cocoa powder from a 22%-24% cocoa powder. A 10%-12% cocoa powder has less fat and a greater percentage of solids, which means the cocoa flavor will be realized sooner than with a higher fat powder. Cocoa powder at 10%-12% natural (East coat points) was trading at $1.35 @ $1.50 per lb on Oct. 23, 2009, up from 80c per lb a year ago.

Cocoa extenders also may save on cocoa powder, but probably only when cocoa powder is used as a color.

Sethness offers different caramel colors to help out as cost-effective alternatives for cocoa powder. They may be used to reduce up to 50% of cocoa powder when it is used for coloring in applications, Mr. Geertz said.

The choice of the Sethness ingredient will depend on the color of the cocoa it is replacing. To reduce a light color cocoa to 60% use, companies may add Sethness powder RT175 at 30% and flour at 10%. For medium color cocoa use at 60%, companies may use Sethness powder BC420 at 20% and flour at 20%. For Dutch (dark) cocoa use at 80%, companies may use Sethness powder 858 at 10% and flour at 10%.

Mr. Geertz said companies should consider the final product when reducing cocoa powder use.

"If you have a name brand dark cookie, you wouldn’t change the formula very much," he said. "If you are making a store brand dark cookie, you are going to make bigger reductions in cocoa."

Cocoa extenders from D.D. Williamson, Louisville, Ky., may replace up to 50% of the cocoa powder when it is used as a color in baked foods as well as confectionery items and chocolate drinks, said Campbell Barnum, vice-president of global marketing.

When used alone, caramel color may replace about 10% of cocoa powder, but using a higher percentage may bring about flavor issues, he said. Adding flour, milk powder and chocolate flavor along with the caramel color will create a D.D. Williamson cocoa extender that has been shown to replace up to 50% of cocoa powder.

Caramel color is two to six times darker than cocoa powder, depending on the kind of caramel used and the kind of cocoa powder used, Mr. Barnum said. The company uses Class 3 caramel color even though it is more expensive and lighter in color than Class 4 caramel color. Class 3 caramel color provides a redness that may more closely resemble cocoa powder, he said.

Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., Chilton, Wis., offers several whole grain specialty flours that have been shown to work in such applications as brownies, breakfast pastries and cocoa-flavored cereals. Using a 50-50 blend of chocolate malted barley flour and Briess caramel 40L malted barley flour may reduce the cost of cocoa in baked foods by about 30%, according to the company. A Briess black cocoa replacer, another whole grain malted barley flour, may color foods normally colored by black cocoa.

Emulsifier price issues

Besides cocoa powder, bakers this year may be looking for alternatives to sodium stearolyl lactylate (SSL), an emulsifier, because of its rising price, Mr. Fatula of Danisco said.

Danisco offers Powerbake 2101, an enzyme-emulsifier blend, to reduce the use of emulsifiers, including SSL. Using Powerbake 2101 may allow bakers to cut other costs, such as freight and warehouse, Mr. Fatula said.

"Our experience tells us time and time again, a combination of emulsifiers and enzymes are the best solution to get dough through the system with the fewest challenges," he said.

Blends also might be an option when wheat supply issues arise, Mr. Fatula said.

"Maybe you could buy a lower protein flour but get the same quality of product by adding an emulsifier-enzyme blend," he said.

Besides saving on costs, using natural enzymes to replace SSL also may create a cleaner label, said Kurt Miller, sales director for J&K Ingredients, Paterson, N.J.

Lallemand offers natural enzymes for reducing the use of emulsifiers such as SSL and DATEM. Cost reduction and clean labels are two potential benefits, but it may be difficult to achieve both at the same time, especially when working with whole wheat and frozen dough products, said Dr. van Eijk, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and enzymology.

Whole wheat and frozen dough require a bigger dose of emulsifiers. Replacing them completely may have too much of a negative effect on the dough’s substrate. This effect could bring about a need to add lecithin, which generally costs more than emulsifiers. In this instance, a baker would achieve a clean label but not cost reduction.

DSM Food Specialties, Delft, The Netherlands, recently launched Panamore Spring, an enzyme preparation that offers bread manufacturers a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to the emulsifiers calcium stearoyl lactylate (CSL) and SSL. Cain Ingredients, Dallas, offers N’Hance Ultra, an enzyme-based strengthener and conditioner that has been shown to replace emulsifiers such as SSL and DATEM.

For another cost-reduction tool, reducing proofing times 15% to 30% is a benefit of SAF-Instant Premium instant yeast from Lesaffre Yeast Corp. North America, Milwaukee. The granular free-flowing yeast is designed for use in doughs with sugar levels of up to 12%. It may reduce dry yeast use by as much as 30%.

Watching the price of eggs

A year ago, bakers may have worried more about the price of eggs than the price of emulsifiers. A recent price of 53@60c per dozen compared with 87c in October 2008.

J&K Ingredients offers Vita-Ex to reduce the cost of using eggs in sweet goods, Danish, rolls, donuts, cookies and cakes by 20% to 66%. One Vita-Ex ingredient replaces whole eggs while another replaces yolks.

Depending on the formulation, Vita-Ex may replace up to 100% of whole eggs, Mr. Miller said. Applications include baked foods, cookies, muffins, bread, rolls, depending on formulation, may replace up to 100%.

The Vita-Ex egg yolk replacer reduces egg yolk costs by up to 50% and may replace 20% to 100% of egg yolk.

A milk replacer from J&K Ingredients may bring about 50% of savings for such ingredients as nonfat dry milk powder. Bakers also may consider natural flavors, including a combination of flavors, to replace butter when it’s used as a flavor, Mr. Miller said.

While egg prices have dropped from their high levels in 2008, Mr. Miller said rising energy prices may be a sign of rising commodity prices in the future. Crude oil spot prices, West Texas intermediate, were trading at $81.03 per barrel on Oct. 23, up $5.83 from the Oct. 16 price and up $11.43 from the Oct. 9 price, according to the Energy Information Administration.

"Everything is creeping back up, essentially following the price of oil," Mr. Miller said of commodities in general.