Cereal bars made with prebiotic soluble dietary fiber and pulse protein fit today’s on-the-go lifestyles.

Consumers want more from their foods than ever before. Adding plant-based protein and prebiotic soluble dietary fiber is a successful path to fortification, according to Ricardo Rodriguez, marketing manager, confectionery and bakery, Ingredion, Inc. In this exclusive Q&A with Baking & Snack, he looks at the reasons for this trend.

Baking & Snack: Among your fortification and enrichment ingredients, which are attracting the most interest from bakery formulators right now?

Ricardo Rodriguez: There is a movement towards healthier better-for-you ingredients. Consumers are looking for clean label and functionality in their ingredients. In particular, there is a high demand for ingredients with a good source of protein, a good source of fiber, probiotics and non-GMO sourcing.

What do your customers tell you about their reasons for seeking such nutritional additions to their products?

It relates back to consumers wanting healthier, better-for-you types of products. There are many choices that consumers can make, and they compare similar types of products. If consumers can clearly see that one offers them added protein, fiber and comes from a non-GMO source while providing the same taste and texture, it makes it easier for them to select that product.

Ingredion has pulse-based ingredients, which are available as flours or proteins in the following bases: peas, lentils, faba beans and chickpeas. Pulses add the nutritional benefits of protein, which address consumer need for protein-rich, clean-label products. Pulses can boost the nutritional profile of formulations, replace allergens and also help support popular label claims such as non-GMO, vegan and gluten free. Plant-based proteins like pulses are on trend and will continue to grow, particularly since the United Nations named 2016 as the Year of the Pulse.

What aspects of the North American diet set the stage for fortification that moves beyond conventional enrichment?

There are various factors that come into play. The new labeling guidelines certainly put a focus on consumers reading labels and understanding what ingredients are contributing to their overall health. Sugar will be called out, so consumers will be looking to avoid added sugars.

Ingredion’s NUTRAFLORA prebiotic fiber, a soluble fiber, can partially replace sugar while giving you the benefits of added fiber. There has also been tremendous growth in vegan and flexitarian diets, where consumers are looking to avoid animal-based products or ingredients. This creates a great opportunity for pulse-based ingredients, which are plant-based.

What advice can you give to a formulator who’s considering such fortification strategies for the first time?

When working with any new ingredients, it is important to understand the impact these ingredients will have on your texture and flavor profile, as well as any processing requirements that may change. It’s always best to work with the supplier’s technical experts when starting because they can save you a lot time and effort and assist you with many of the technical challenges you may face.