Meeting up the rising trend of gelatin free and protein enriched products, Emsland Group has introduced a new confectionery concept: a Jelly Bar. The ingredient supplier has created a transparent, flexible, elastic fruit-bar produced by an extrusion – or molding process. The Jelly Bar consists of a fruity body (equal if it’s a bar or cut into pieces), which is enriched with protein sources, fibers or grains. This kind of bar can also be covered with chocolate or other decorations.
The innovation behind the Jelly Bar is Emden® ET 50, a newly developed cross-linked and hydroxypropylated starch (E1442) from Emsland. This is an excellent gelling agent for fruit bars that results in a transparent, flexible and elastic form. Products based on this starch will also have a long shelf life without breaking difficulties and it is suitable to produce vegan and fat free confectionery products.
Jelly bars is the latest possible application for this innovative starch, which was initially and is still mainly marketed at gummy bear type applications, but apparently potential that extends as far as marshmallows and marmelade. Development on the ingredient started in 2013, with the first promotion occurring at FiE 2015 (Paris) and the first production trials occurring just after in February 2016.
“I have been working in areas, such as confectionery, where a liquid process and gelling is required for many years. What I noticed is that all starch suppliers are working for gelatin alternatives for the whole confectionery area of confectionery, which encompasses jellies, wine gums and fruit pastilles, licorice, chewables, drops and lollies,” Jakob Woltjes, Project Manager Innovation Food at Emsland tells FoodIngredientsFirst in a detailed interview. “What I noticed that is still not available is gelatin free jellies. So I worked on developing Emden® ET 50, which as an excellent starch with good elasticity. It can be used at just an 8% level and still gives you a direct a good firm and elastic product, while other starches need to be used in higher amounts.”
The next application step for Woltjes and Emsland Group's R&D team was chewables. “You normally have chewy products where 2% gelatin is used, together with a high quantity of fat [4-6%]. Here we succeeded too, as Emden® ET 50 gives you some elasticity, but also a short bite. In chewy products, the gelatin will give you the elasticity and the fat that will give you the short bite to make it more favorable mouthfeel. Because of that we were able to take the gelatin and fat out and replace with this starch. As a result, it is also no longer necessary to use emulsifiers either, because there is no fat and water in the product,” Woltjes explains.
The confectionery category is a market full of innovation, with exciting developments in flavors, textures and health positioning. Although confections are usually rich in sugar and carbohydrates, often combined with coloring matter, the natural aspect is becoming more important too within this category. But after the rise of both chocolate and sugar confectionery launches in 2013 and two stable years in 2014 and 2015, the launches of confectioneries in 2016 are again declining. According to Innova Market Insights the product launches are as high as in 2012. To counteract this trend, not only the end-producer, but also the ingredient suppliers are attempting to create new opportunities for confectioneries.
Experimentation with Emden® ET 50 suggests that there are countless unexplored applications. “8% is the maximum level for the starch in gummies, but then I started to think further,” Woltjes says. “When used at 12% in a batch cooker, the viscosity was so high that I thought to myself that since it gels very quickly, it could be an excellent product for extruded confectionery. When you are using a cooking extruder or a forming extruder, it will give you much more pressure than a molding system that is no pressure at all and where the suspension should run out of the molding machines, without pressure,” he explains.
It was then that Woltjes started to discuss the concept with some extruder suppliers and focus on extruded confectionery too. Surprisingly it also worked in that area too, where a typical example is licorice products, which are mainly produced in northern Europe, based on wheat flour. “Normally these producers would use 26-30% wheat flour, but we were able to make the same product by using half that amount of starch [i.e. 15% together with a bulking agent]. I saw that we could even reduce the amount of wheat flour and produce an extruded licorice product, without wheat flour; so you also avoid the discussion around allergens and gluten content,” he explains.
Taking this further, Woltjes noted a strong rise in high fiber and protein enriched products and also in bars and drinks. However, no flexible bar, which are close to extruded confectionery exist. So one unexplored gap in the market that Woltjes found was gelatin free and even protein enriched jelly bars.
“I started to use more than 8% Emden® ET 50 and cook it in the same way,” he explains. “Instead of transporting it to the molding machine, I decided to fill it in a tank, add some cereals, color and flavor, mix it, put it on a cooling table, like they do with chewables. After cooking, it is filled with cereals, grains and jellifies very quickly. After some time, it is possible to cut into nice shapes and bars. Then after some time, it is possible for a producer to choose what to do with it. It could be left as it is, where the cereals can be seen in the transparent bar, but you could also coat it with chocolate, whereby you can also decide to have the cooked solution without cereals, color, but just as a yogurt flavor and coat it with chocolate,” he explains.
Woltjes’ team has also developed a concept without the use of added sugar. “Instead of sugar you use glucose syrup. So I am able to make a gelatin free, no added sugar, protein enriched, clean label starch [without E numbers]. What more could confectionery producers want?” he asks. “Since I’m able to easily make this product on a lab scale, I know that this won’t be any problem at a large scale either. It is so easy to produce,” he adds.
The initial concepts have focused on highlighting the flexible jelly potential of the starch, but protein fortification is also possible, with the company being a supplier of protein too [potato and pea protein].
Future possibilities are endless, with the use of fruit juice another option. “Of course, instead of starting with water and added sugar of 10-12%, use glucose syrup instead. Instead of water, you could start with fruit juice or fruit concentrate; the only thing to keep in mind is that there is water enough available to gelatinize the starch.”
Beyond sweet, even savory applications are possible (e.g. coffee flavored, licorice flavored or peanut flavored), with Woltjes even noting his idea for a surimi flavored jelly bar. Less odd could be an alternative cheese stick concept. “How about taking a bar like this and adding a cheese flavor together with a yellow color? You could even make small cheese sticks that are flexible instead of the much short ones,” he adds.
Looking forward, a new and challenging area of development for what Woltjes calls a “magic starch” for its numerous applications will be marshmallows, which are notoriously difficult to make gluten free. “This is very difficult as Emden® ET 50 can be used as a gelling agent and for giving some body and texture; but what is missing of course is the protein. Gelatin in marshmallows is also used for foaming capacity in marshmallows. So I have to find a good combination of our starch together with a good commercially available protein that will give some good foaming properties. Then we can also succeed in making a gelatin free marshmallow,” he explains.
A report of Jakob Woltjes in an interview by Robin Wyers (FoodIngrdientsFirst)