No doubt about it, the baking industry is taking a turn for the healthful. At the same time, consumer pallets are becoming more sophisticated. Taken together, these trends make for a changing role for fats and oils.
“I see 2011 as being the year of focus on healthy eating,” says Tom Lehmann, director, bakery assistance, AIB of Manhattan, Kan.
In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal governments nutritional guidelines for health and disease reduction. Those guidelines put more focus than ever on healthful eating choices.
Many oil producers have stepped up with palm oils to replace hydrogenated oils that include trans fats. Trans fat is unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acid. They may be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, but they’re never saturated. After the FDA began requiring food makers to list trans fat on the Nutrition Facts panel of their products, manufacturers moved to decrease the amount of this type of fat in their products, in part by turning to palm oils.
But one drawback is that palm oil contains a significant amount of saturated fats; 50 percent as compared to 20 percent for trans fat, says Bob Wainwright, technical director for Cargill Inc.’s oils and shortenings division, Minneapolis.
Bakers can choose from a number of fats and oils; some are formulated to reduce saturated fats below 50 percent; some promote sustainable practices, as above, others are extremely cost effective. Bakers need to cater fats and oil choices to their consumers. It all depends on what consumers in any region or target demographic are seeking.
“If a baker went from trans fat to something based on palm and saw an uptick of saturated fats on panel, what can be done about that?” Wainwright says. “A lot of bakers don’t feel any pressure to do anything about that because they’ve arrived at a product that delivers the eating experience their customers expect and they no longer have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on the label.”
But other bakers will want to reduce saturated fats, he adds.
To that end, fat and oil producers have been introducing oils to the market that reduced saturated fat content of baked goods.
For instance, in 2013 Cargill plans to introduce its Clear Valley low saturate canola oil with 4.5 percent saturated fat content. Testing oil will be available later this year. Bakeries that use the fat may be able to make a low saturated fat or saturated fat free nutrient claim on their product, Wainwright says.
Canola oil itself has the lowest saturated fat content among all commercially traded fats and oils, at 7 percent, he adds. Soybean oil, for instance, contains about 15 to 16 percent saturated fat.
Bakers themselves will need to decide whether replacing canola oil with the Clear Valley oil in recipes to yield a slightly lower saturated fat content is worthwhile, he adds.
“In some cases it will be, in some cases it won’t,” he says. “But this is another tool people may want to take advantage of depending on how much saturated fat they want in a product.”
IOI-Loders Croklaan, Channahon, Ill., introduced its Sans Trans VLS line that helps reduce saturated fat content without increasing cost, says Gerald McNeill, Ph.D., director of research and development at the fat and oil producer.
Sans Trans VLS 40 and Sans Trans VLS 30 are designed to reduce saturated fat content while maintain all purpose shortening functionality, he says. Users can save up to 10 percent of the cost of using palm oil through use of the products because they’re using fewer products for same functionality as compared to palm oil.
Ironically, the technology for the VLS line was born in the 1980s, when Loders Croklaan was looking for a product to meet the low-fat demands of the time, McNeill says. The company developed emulsified products that allowed for a 50 to 70 percent fat reduction in foods.
It turned out, the general public wasn’t willing to trade taste for very low fat.
With the move away from trans fats, the company took a second look at the formulas, this time reducing saturated fat by a more restrained 10 to 15 percent. The VLS line is a drop-in solution that requires no product reformulation, McNeill says.
“No one is looking for a huge fat reduction, like 50 percent as they tried to do in the 80s,” McNeill said. “Generally people are probably using the lowest fat available products already, but with this you can go down another 10 to 15 percent with no change in texture.”
The choice in lower saturated fat and no trans fat oils and fats exists, as Wainwright says, but finding the correct one for an individual wholesale baking market is a new art and science onto itself.
As bakers move to palm oil to eliminate trans fats from their products, consumers have become aware of environmental issues surrounding palm-oil production, says Wainwright.
“That’s an issue or opportunity or challenge that’s surfaced and will be with us into the near term as people think more about this,” he says.
Some producers of palm oil in countries that include Indonesia, Malaysia, and Columbia have been accused of causing damage to the environment, including deforestation, loss of habitat for endangered species, and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, according to information from The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, formed in 2004 by several large players in the palm oil industry to promote sustainable agriculture and address the environmental impact of palm oil.
The RSPO has delineated standards to be met by palm growers and oil suppliers to ensure the oil is produced in an environmentally acceptable, sustainable method. With the standards in place, some oil suppliers have been working with their own suppliers to ensure they meet the new standards, Wainwright says.
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In August 2010, Cargill, in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund began assessing the progress its palm oil suppliers in Indonesia have made to implement the RSPO standards. The company will soon release a summary of the findings and resulting action steps identified during the first stage of the assessment.
The company already has a policy in place that says Cargill will not develop land areas if a survey reveals forests in need of conservation exist on the site. Cargill also complies with local laws on forest clearance and always obtains relevant government approvals, according to a Cargill statement.
In addition, the policy calls for no planting on areas of high-conservation-value forest, no new development on deep peat land, and a no-burn policy for land preparation, the statement says.
IOI-Loders Croklaan welcomed their first bulk vessel shipment of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil to North America in late February. According to officials, this shipment demonstrates the company’s commitment of supporting the production and supply of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil to the global market.
“Considering how prevalent palm oil is in our everyday lives, its sustainable production is critical to meet rising demand and to protect the environment in which its grown,” David McLaughlin, the World Wildlife Fund’s managing director and vice president, agriculture, said in a Loders Croklaan statement.
Bakeries worried about a negative consumer reaction to a move to palm oil can begin using environmentally friendly palm oils to assure people they are addressing the issue, Wainwright says.
As consumers become increasingly aware of global issues, they are also better in touch with global foods. Even those in remote or rural areas can now choose from a plethora of ethnic foods not available to them even a decade ago. Lehmann says ethnic foods are definitely in, so bakers could take advantage.
As breads from Italy and flatbreads from Greece hit the mainstream, bakers are using savory oils, like olive and sesame, to bring unique flavors to their products, Lehmann says. These oils impart a particular taste to the baked good; and they needn’t be used liberally.
“Oil is oil; it’s nine calories per gram no matter what you do. The difference between olive and canola is still nine,” he says. “But the olive oil brings with it more flavor and so we’re beginning to see bakers less oil but a flavorful oil to get that unique flavor.”
Bakers predominantly use the oils to flavor artisan-style loaf breads, though that could change in the future as the flavoring moves to rolls and even savory cookies, he adds.
Both olive oil and sesame oil carry their flavors nicely. For cost control, bakers can blend 15 percent of these oils with canola oil and still achieve the original taste profile, Lehmann says.
Banish build up
With the use of zero trans fat oils comes another concern previously almost unknown to wholesale bakeries: zero trans fat buildup.
The term, coined by Ecolab of St. Paul, Minn., refers to the buildup of non trans fat oils on manufacturing equipment, says Aaron Moniza, Ecolab’s assistant marketing manager.
“We first hear about an issue with these types of oils in summer 2008, when customers reported that their equipment and floors and cat walks were covered in sticky brown varnish-like coating they found difficult to remove with cleaning products they had been using,” he says.
The customers put their heads together with Ecolab executives and began realizing the new oils were less stable than former oils and broke down at lower temperatures to coat equipment in the surrounding environment, he says. The oils also misted from ovens at a higher rate than previous oils.
“Beyond a cleaning challenge, they were also creating safety issues because they were slipper and because of the combustible nature of the oil residue,” he adds.
The company has since produced its Exelerate ZTF products, which are a line of gelled cleaners manually applied to a soiled area, including vertical surfaces. The gel breaks down the residue, allowing it to be rinsed away with water, Moniza says.