In recent years there has been a significant rise in the number of new product launches within the confectionery market. Furthermore, there has been a significant rise in new product innovation in diverse markets such as Western Europe, Asia and India.
In such a competitive market, the key lies in retaining customer loyalty, but that’s easier said than done once you consider all the challenges present in the modern confectionery market.
Everyone wants the complete package:
Across the entire food and beverage industry, and confectionery in particular, consumers crave new flavour profiles. This results in a constant need for flavour innovation when it comes to new product development. The evidence is there for anyone to see – products are continuously being launched with new and intense flavour editions.
The latest trend of using naturally derived ingredients, to cater to consumer demand for natural products devoid of artificial additives, has also presented a significant challenge for an industry that has traditionally relied on artificial flavours and colours.
To top it all off, confectionery consumers are a discerning group who are mostly intolerant of faulty products, such as those that they deem to be of poor visual or taste appeal.
Obtaining optimal product stability:
The quality of sugar confectionery is easily impacted by several factors, including the climate, packaging and pH levels.
In warmer climates like India, at increased temperatures and humidity, acid sanded jellies and gums attract moisture from the environment and this gives them a moist appearance. This impairs the visual appeal of the product, but what is more worrying is that this also causes the acid to transfer from the exterior of the candy to its interior which negatively impacts the flavour.
Packaging is an often used method of ensuring that products make it through their shelf life unaffected by the environment. However, the excessive use of packaging material results in a rise in costs for the manufacturer and is viewed as harmful for the environment.
Acidulants, particularly citric acid, are widely used across the industry to replicate the authentic flavour experience of real fruit. They are also commonly used as a source of sourness which is necessary to offset the otherwise intense sweetness of the sugar. However, finding a stable sugar-acidulant matrix that doesn’t affect the product quality and texture stability in confectionery products proves to be a major hurdle.
Devising the perfect formulation:
Individual acidulants grant a varied sour taste profile. As a result, the selection of acidulants is a primary consideration when it comes to achieving optimal taste. However, the addition of an acidulant can lead to sugar inversion in hard boiled confectionery, gel degradation in jellies and gums, and acid migration in acid sanded candy.
Keeping the pH variation to a narrow range can lessen the aforementioned effects. The use of buffered acid blends or buffer salts provides the desired sourness, without lowering the pH, thereby ensuring the preservation of texture and visual appeal of the confectionery for consumers.
Additionally, buffered acid blends also result in processing benefits. Manufacturers can use ready-made buffered blends to create a base recipe, to which different flavours and colours could be added to produce product variations without having to change the acidulant used for each new product.
For acid sanded confectionery, acid powders are used to create taste differentiation. Inventive acid powder combinations can be used to impart sourness by mitigating the migration of acid powder into the candy, resulting in more of it remaining in the sanding sugar on the surface of the product throughout its shelf life.
Taste differentiation and confectionery stability are key factors in new product development. The careful consideration of ingredients is essential for manufacturers looking to formulate new recipes in order to meet the current customer demands.