How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

New Food Texture Trends at IFT

The 2017 exhibition for the Institute of Food Technologists was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from June 25th to 28th, showcasing thousands of developments in the food technology industry.

The show gives a good reflection of the current wants and desires of consumers, and they seem to be asking quite a lot from manufacturers this year. One major area to consider while keeping up with these trends is food texture. The majority of attendees were heavily aware of the importance of texture measurement in R&D as well as its maintenance in quality control; texture is such an important quality of food and beverage products that many manufacturers mention a textural attribute specifically by name on a product’s packaging or even in the name itself.


Companies specialising in sugar products are doing a very good job at keeping up with the low sugar trend as well as calorie reduction. One such company displayed a full range of ingredients in a “sugar-replacement toolbox” that fit this purpose, such as powdered sweeteners and sugar free syrup. This can be a difficult job as sugar plays such an important part of the texture of many foods, but this is competing with the enormous drive by health authorities and health conscious consumers to reduce the proportion of sugar in food. Other sugar companies are maintaining that sugar is still an essential ingredient in many products, and rather than the traditional refined sugars, they have been focussing on the “clean label ingredients”, “non-GM”, “Fairtrade” and “Organic” trends featuring organic cane sugar, tapioca syrup, molasses and rice syrup to name but a few. Finally, the texture of these products during the manufacturing stage is also key; companies are striving to supply more free-flowing powders for ease of transport through factory hoppers and pipelines.

In a similar field, there was an enormous range of gluten free ingredients available. Although gluten free flours have been available for many years, the rise of gluten free eating due to medical reasons or simply by choice have fuelled the growth of the gluten free industry. Again, like sugar in confectionery and bakery, gluten is key to the texture of bread and cakes.


Dairy ingredients suppliers have not only been taking advantage of the high protein trend by supplying dairy products to boost the protein levels of many foods – dairy forms such as powders, isolates and concentrates have been used in many foods to add flavour and texture in both foods and beverages.


Vegan food has been going through a small renaissance in the past few years, and this was very much apparent at IFT, especially in the vegan confectionery area. It has been traditionally tricky to achieve stretchy, chewy gummy sweets without animal ingredients, but a lot of work has been carried out in this area. As well as gummies, foamed jellies and multi-layered candies have been an important developmental area, all using non-animal-based gelatins. One such ingredient that was showcased was a plant-based ingredient made from potato starch and potato protein, which is said to mimic the functionality of gelatin in achieving gels and foams.


Starches, gums and emulsifiers all contribute significantly to the creation of interesting food textures. Suppliers of such ingredients have had to keep up with some important trends. Firstly, the term “label friendly” has driven a change in the ingredients that consumers will now avoid or search for when buying a product, as certain users of social media have been stirring up a storm writing about the health impacts of “non-natural” foods, many of which may be exaggerated or simply untrue, and very little of it based on actual scientific research. As such, manufacturers have had to develop texturisers and stabilisers from naturally-derived sources, or rekindle interest in old ingredients that have fallen out of fashion. Examples include pectin, native starches and gellan gum.


Continuing the trend for healthy food, fruit and vegetables made a high impact on the exhibition. The addition of these products to food in both large and small quantities improves the perceived health of the product, influencing the consumer towards a purchase. This year, quick frozen and freeze dried ingredients were a focal point, especially where texture is concerned – the freezing process transforms the texture of many plant based foods and it is crucial to be able to control this textural change. The same applies to drying fruit and monitoring the texture of the finished product. Blueberries also took centre stage this year as consumers are becoming attuned to their health benefits, meanwhile blueberry providers look to select the growing conditions and varieties with the most desirable texture.


Finally, the fats and oils sector has been working hard to significantly reduce the quantity of hydrogenated fats in food, with the aim of meeting their influence on texture and taste with healthier, non-hydrogenated alternatives.


The health theme ran deep throughout the show, with many trends influenced by high protein, low fat, high fibre, nutritionally enhanced, low sugar or gluten free alternatives to ordinary food, but always with the crucial condition of an equal or improved texture.



We can design and manufacture probes or fixtures for the TA.XTplus texture analyser that are bespoke to your sample and its specific measurement.

Once your measurement is performed, our expertise in its graphical interpretation is unparalleled. Not only can we develop the most suitable and accurate method for the testing of your sample, but we can also prepare analysis procedures that obtain the desired parameters from your curve and drop them into a spreadsheet or report designed around your requirements.

For more information on how to measure texture, please visit the Texture Analysis Properties section on our website.

TA.XTplus texture analyser with bloom jar The
TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

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Watch our video about texture analysis Replicating Consumer Preferences

 Texture Analysis applications

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