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Ingredient explanation is a key part of clean labels, food scientist says

In this interview, TIC Gums food scientist Tim Andon discusses the challenges associated with formulating clean label products and how the company works with manufacturers to create foods and beverages consumers can feel good about.

5 min read


Ingredient explanation is a key part of clean labels, food scientist says


This post is sponsored by TIC Gums.

Clean labels and ingredient transparency are must-haves for US consumers, although some shoppers may not be sure what they’re looking for when it comes to stabilizers and other ingredients that don’t have much consumer recognition. In this interview, Tim Andon, senior technical services manager at TIC Gums discusses the challenges associated with formulating clean label products and how the texture and stability solutions company works with manufacturers to create clean label foods and beverages and explain their benefits to the end consumer.


What are the main challenges food and beverage manufacturers face when formulating or reformulating a clean label product?

Many times, the first challenge when formulating or reformulating for clean label is getting agreement on what clean label means to the customer. In order to hone in on that definition, we will ask about the ingredients the customer is open to using and ingredients they may want to avoid. We then go over how our materials are produced and what functional advantages and limitations may exist by eliminating certain classes of ingredients.

Another reformulation challenge that we are often presented with is working with a product that has already been formula and process optimized. This means any changes can alter the end product or process in some way. In order to combat this particular challenges, we have food scientists, or Gum Gurus, on staff who specialize in hydrocolloids and are adept in overall formulation interactions. We encourage formulators to engage with our Gum Gurus to discuss their specific applications and textural requirements.

Additionally, we now offer an even wider selection of gums thanks to the addition of products from our parent company, Ingredion. This extremely broad portfolio, which includes chickpea flour, organic starches and stevia to name a few, helps us give customers numerous options that allow them to make the best possible decision when creating or reformulating new clean label products without sacrificing texture, stability or sweetness.

What is the most common ingredient manufacturers are looking to replace when cleaning up labels, and how does TIC Gums help them find the right replacement?

The requests for cleaner labels spans across the board as manufacturers are recognizing that there will be a continued long-term increase in consumer scrutiny of food and beverage products. When we get questions about our products from manufacturers, we take the time to explain what these products are and how they are produced, so they are then able to show transparency to the end consumer.

In the case of guar, for instance, it’s basically a ground up seed that is milled and then used as a thickening agent. If the consumer is not aware of that, the name came seem intimidating.

Part of our job is explaining how these products are made, but then also giving manufacturers options, should they want to produce a product that is free from seeds, legumes, corn, sugar or anything they feel the end consumer does not want. From a technical standpoint, we help producers find replacements by replicating formulation or reformulation processes in our labs to ensure the ideal outcome is reached.

In addition to a desire for more natural formulations, food and beverage manufacturers are also looking to meet consumer demand for products that are organic, non-GMO and made with sustainability in mind. How does TIC Gums help manufacturers meet these needs?

TIC Gums has a proven history of commercializing organic gums here in the US, and we created the organic market for products like gum acacia, locust bean gum and guar gum, to name a few. For non-GMO, we were the first to offer a Non-GMO Project Verified xanthan gum here in the US. We are always looking for ways to be in tune with these trends and to stay one step ahead for our customers.

We take sustainability efforts for the plant crops we utilize very seriously. We work extremely closely with local farmers to ensure the long-term health of products like guar and acacia to ensure these products that have been around for thousands of years continue to last for thousands more.

How are innovations in hydrocolloid technology creating new opportunities for food and beverage brands to create new and improved products?

Our niche is designing new and novel ways to both use and process our materials while still meeting consumer needs for cleaner products. For example, we recently installed a new guar mill right here in the US to address FSMA concerns related to food safety.

One of the huge benefits of building here in the US was the opportunity to introduce proprietary manufacturing processes. With our new guar mill, we were able produce a guar gum that doesn’t have the typical grassy odor that is found in most guar on the market, GuarNT USA Flavor Free 5000. To us, this shows how TIC Gums is trying not only to innovate, but to do so in ways that fit into the overall clean label trends.

Tim Andon is the senior technical services manager at TIC Gums. He has more than 11 years experience in a variety of functions including purchasing, technical sales, business development and R&D. His current role in R&D focuses on working closely with customers to address technical issues and develop customized solutions. He is also heavily involved in training new food scientists for future roles in the company. Tim has a B.S. in Food Science from Cornell University.


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