DECATUR, ILL. – Simplicity, stealth sugar and calorie reductions, products with multiple benefits, and restaurant quality food at home rank as the top four food and beverage trends for 2011, according to a third annual release from Tate & Lyle, which has a U.S. office in Decatur. Company personnel convened at a roundtable to decide on the trends.

Simplicity: Consumers increasingly are demanding products made with fewer ingredients that are easier to understand along with a transparent label, according to Datamonitor. Tate & Lyle cited information from Datamonitor that showed the leading claim on foods and beverages was “simple” or “simply” from 2007-09.

“As the simplicity trend accelerates, it is crucial for manufacturers to understand consumers’ desires for easy-to-understand ingredients, such as soluble corn fiber and crystalline fructose, when formulating foods and beverages,” said Dave Tuchler, global vice-president of marketing, innovation and commercial development for Tate & Lyle.

Stealth sugar and calorie reductions: While sugar prices hover around all-time highs, manufacturers may reduce sugar, calories and manufacturing costs by blending sweeteners, said Craig Donaldson, vice-president, sucralose product management, specialty food ingredients for Tate & Lyle. For example, sucralose may be blended with sucrose, and manufacturers may use Krystar crystalline fructose in a 50/50 fructose/sucrose blend.

“By custom blending ingredients with a higher sweetness profile, the end result is a product with less sugar, less calories and 100% of the taste without the risk of increasing manufacturing costs that would occur by using sugar,” Mr. Donaldson said.

One product, multiple benefits: For one example, manufacturers may formulate a product to provide a digestive health benefit while reducing calories.

“A deep understanding of what health benefits are of concern to consumers and how manufacturers can communicate claims are important to developing a product that provides multiple nutritional benefits, and meeting both quality standards and taste preferences,” said Paul Cornillon, global applications, vice-president, specialty food ingredients for Tate & Lyle.

Restaurant quality at home: Consumers may want to recreate the restaurant experience with bold, creative flavors. Manufacturers may turn to a variety of applications, including at-home meal kits and microwaveable meals, said Jim Miller, North America vice-president of sales, specialty food ingredients for Tate & Lyle.

“The key to recreating the restaurant meal at home is incorporating the right blend of food starches and stabilizers that are synergistic with other ingredients in the meal,” Mr. Miller said.