Texture News

The weird and wonderful is on its way

Algae in foods

Food manufacturers constantly strive to keep ahead of consumers. Not only are consumers realising that the world must change how it eats to limit climate change they are forever yearning new sensory experiences. Developments abound in the field of plant-based foods, the use of insects, 3D printing, lab-grown food that look to appeal to consumers newly found moral considerations whilst providing intrigue, novelty and a great back story. With all of these developments there will be the need to assess texture – either to compare with a standard product that has textural expectations or to provide a quality control tool when the final product is mastered. Here are just a few examples of food developments where texture analysis is being featured as a star employee.

The biggest ingredient of future food: Air

As commodity prices rise, food makers must seize the opportunity afforded by air as a product element. Food texture and flavour can be altered with the use of air. Edibles benefit from a light, puffy texture that adds volume, form, size, and appeal, and the use of air allows manufacturers to make larger items with the same number of ingredients, providing consumers a sense of value for money.

Manufacturers' efforts to retexturise foods are being aided by advances in 3D technology, such as selective hot air sintering and melting. Because it can manufacture 3D structures with complicated geometries, complex textures, enhanced nutrition, and realistic flavours, 3D printing is a suitable technology for food manufacturing. According to specialists, 3D printing can be done beautifully with the help of air.

By adding air, not only will the texture need to be assessed, but the volume/density will also need to be measured and monitored. This is where a Volscan Profiler is used, providing a laser-based non-contact method.

Volscan Profiler with typicals scans showing a dog bone and nougat
Volscan Profiler with typicals scans showing a dog bone and nougat

Read more about air in future foods

Last autumn, Air Protein created meat out of air. This astonishing company has pioneered a process of producing meat using the elements in the air, converting them into nutrients to form Air Protein flour; a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids and with an amino acid profile comparable to animal protein.

Solar Foods meanwhile, which has been backed by the Finnish government, aims to have its first industrial facility to produce Solein, its proprietary protein, fully operational by 2023. Solein is a unique single-cell protein born from an equally extraordinary bioprocess of electricity and air. Its fully natural fermentation process is similar to the production of yeast, resulting in the purest and most sustainable protein in the world.

Neutral in taste and appearance, Solein vanishes into your daily meal, while simultaneously maintaining its rich nutritional value. By offering a unified solution that caters to virtually every imaginable meal of today, Solein creates a dazzling world of opportunities for entirely new foods of tomorrow.

Air Protein and Solar Foods methods have their differences, but both produce edible material out of carbon dioxide (CO2). Both use biomass fermentation, leveraging microbes that eat CO2 and other elements of the air, and produce a physical protein that looks similar to flour. That flour can then be used to produce plant-based meats like burgers and meatballs. Sounds futuristic, right? But the fascinating thing, besides the fact that edible-for-humans protein is being created from air, is that Air Protein’s methods are based on methods laid out in a 1967 NASA study on how to grow food on board during long space missions.

Volcanically sourced protein

The air we breathe isn’t the only unusual source of protein.

Nature's Fynd is a food technology firm financed by Bill Gates and Al Gore that produces a protein from a bacterium discovered in Yellowstone's geothermal springs. It is one of the few non-animal sources of full protein since it contains all nine essential amino acids. Dietary fibre, calcium, and vitamins are also included. It's a flexible ingredient that may be used to make meat and dairy substitutes such as breakfast patties and cream cheese, as well as protein drinks and powders.

3D printing microalgae

Fancy having a nutritious meal that is created sustainably from microalgae and printed by a 3D printer?

And then there’s insects

Edible insects are nutritious, easy to farm and have a small carbon footprint, but... Can we stomach the latest emerging food innovations? – BBC News

See how texture analysis can be applied to alternative protein texture measurement

Request our article about Texture Analysis in the Alternative Proteins industry

Why food is nothing without texture

Texture of ice cream - why food is nothing without texture

January brings with it new diets, exercise regimes and promises. It’s no secret that the majority of these fall by the wayside come February or March. Delicious desserts, mouth-watering canapes, mind-blowing buffets… no doubt you experienced these during the festive season and are still noticing the consequences. Your consumers will have put on some unwelcome pounds too and will be looking for several solutions to remove them. It’s likely that they will turn to the reduced-fat versions of their preferred food choices. However, texture plays a large part in consumer enjoyment and expectations of textural attributes remain high.

Yvonne Kuiper is a doctoral candidate researching how the brain responds to food texture in the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland.“By researching which brain regions are involved in experiencing food texture, we can build a map of how pleasurable textures, especially fat texture, in combination with a delicious taste, triggers connections between brain regions and increases our reward responses.”

Meanwhile, Ole Mouritsen, a professor of gastrophysics at the University of Copenhagen works on the connection between texture and taste in food. “What I noticed, and also learned, is that most complaints about food are about texture. People may grumble that a dish has too little or too much salt, he notes, but that’s generally where discussions of taste end. It’s more typical for diners to bemoan that a piece of meat isn’t as tender as they’d hoped, or that their fries are soggy instead of crisp.”

‘Low-in’ boom to continue

A lot of research has been carried out showing the possibility of successfully replacing (both at technological and sensory levels) less healthy ingredients (e.g. salt, sugar, fat) with others that are nutritionally better. The challenge is to combine these better components in any given product, as well as to evaluate possible interactions among them. These interactions can to lead to alterations to the product’s texture. Biscuit hardness might change, measured using a penetration test; dough properties can be affected, measured using a Warburtons Dough Stickiness System; or final product volume may be altered, which a manufacturer would be able to monitor using a Volscan Profiler. Read more about Texture Measurement of Low-In Foods

When reformulating your products you will be looking for change that show as little impact as possible. Understanding the impact on texture and the potential implications of these texture changes is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers.

Reducing the fat content and energy value of a food product implies the application of an adequate fat substitute. Ideal fat substitutes should have all the functional characteristics of lipids, but also lower energy value, preferably 0 kcal/g. The functional properties that a fat substitute should have are sensory properties (odour and taste) and rheological properties (viscosity, consistency, texture).

Texture Analysis is a mandatory stage in the Research and Development of ingredient-substituted products, when texture can be altered by the addition of different quantities of ingredients, and must be measured after each iteration of ingredient or process modifications.

Fortified and ‘free-from’ foods

With consumers constantly searching for healthier options in their food, bakery manufacturers are looking to improve the nutrient profile of their products. Read more about Texture Measurement of Fortified Foods

Free-from food sales continue to remain influenced by a range of factors, including rising consumer awareness on food allergies and intolerances, and upward trend of health, wellness and (in the case of palm oil) environmental concerns. Absence of effective treatment for food allergies and intolerance has been complementing the adoption of free-from food among consumers worldwide. A key challenge faced by the free-from food manufacturers is sustainable sourcing of naturally-derived ingredients and preservatives, which are devoid of allergens, while retaining the taste and texture of food using effective processing technologies. Read more about Texture Measurement of ‘Free-from’ Foods

Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards. To read more about the texture of reformulated food products, request our article

Testing texture in reformulated food article

Checking the texture of upcycled and clean-label cosmetics

Spreadability probe to test texture of cosmetic formulations

In 2022, we are expected to see a big worldwide trend: sustainability - with cosmetic and ingredient companies pledging to use more plant-based/natural ingredients. For the benefit of themselves and the environment, consumers have begun to regard sustainability as a standard moral and ethical need. The growing demand for more sustainable products, as well as the renewable features of natural raw materials, are a perfect match to bring ‘circular’ beauty on our shelves. Circular beauty involves the concept of upcycling to make use of left-over or discarded ingredients.

What is “upcycling”?

Upcycling (creative re-use) is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, or unwanted products into new materials without destroying them with the goal of forming a different product. Food and beverage waste represent the main source of materials that can be upcycled into natural and organic cosmetics since these often contain food-grade ingredients that have rich properties for the skin.

Seeds, peels, flowers and fruit are frequently rejected by the food sector. For skin and hair care, commodity components such as vegetable oils (e.g. palm kernel oil), butters, coffee, cacao beans and tea waste, are more widely used, or extracts such as citrus peel for pectin or preservative are obtained for inclusion in a formula. Dried fruit seeds discarded from the juice and jam industries can be cold pressed and transformed into precious essential oils. Even extracts of grapes waste from wine production can be used for pigmentation in natural hair dye and colour products.

Upcycling reduces the consumption of virgin raw materials and, as a result, is a comparably energy-efficient route to product creation whilst reducing the waste stream, air pollution, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Upcycling ingredients for cosmetic products

The hot trend on the innovation agenda is gaining impetus as the coronavirus pandemic has shaken up supply chains for cosmetic ingredients. Adoption rates are expected to rise as the cosmetics industry moves towards regional supply chains for its raw materials, as well as develop products for a circular economy.

Food side streams, or food by-products, are not completely new and are already established as a source of natural ingredients but there is now greater demand for such raw materials because of growing consumer demand for natural and organic personal care products. Partnerships between food producers and cosmetic companies are becoming more and more common as a joint effort to reincorporate materials with precious active ingredients for the skin in the production loop.

Cosmetic brands are creating dedicated lines based on upcycled ingredients. The Taiwanese company Hair O’ Right is a pioneer; it introduced natural hair care products made from spent coffee grounds in 2006. It is now creating products using other upcycled ingredients, such as goji berry roots and distiller grains. Full Circle in the UK is a team of mission-driven ingredients makers specialising in plant-based leftovers to create natural and sustainable cosmetic ingredients. As cosmetic companies re-formulate their products using ingredients from waste streams there will be textural and sensory challenges to overcome with use and/or substitution of ingredients. Here are recent research examples using the Texture Analyser for upcycled cosmetic products:

The Impact of Titanium Dioxide Type Combined with Coffee Oil Obtained from Coffee Industry Waste on Sunscreen Product Performance

Perlis Sunshine Mango Seed Flour Body Scrub: Product Development for Physical and Sensory Properties

Designing clean-label cosmetic products

The rise of the modern informed consumer has also led to the emergence of clean beauty which is based on a fundamental concept that what we apply on our body has a deep impact on our overall health and wellbeing. This has led to a number of pioneering clean-label holistic wellness brands with plant-based skincare and hair-care formulations created using scientific botanical concepts and devoid of harmful chemicals and ingredients.

Cosmetic formulators are uncompromising in their efforts to offer product compositions that are free from harmful agents such as parabens, sulphates, phthalates, PEGs, ethanolamines, chemical sunscreens, synthetic fragrances, BHT, and BHA. In the process of reformulation however the removal of ingredients will have a knock on effect on the texture and again formulators will need to use texture analysis to compare their ‘simplified’ formula with the textural expectations of products that consumers already like and have become familiar with. Here is a research example using the Texture Analyser for the development of clean-label products that looks into this issue:

Measurements meet perceptions: rheology‐texture‐sensory relations when using green, bio‐derived emollients in cosmetic emulsions

Not forgetting the feel-good factor

After 2 years of health crisis related anxiety, many consumers will feel the need for an emotional reboot by taking more time for themselves and choosing cosmetic and personal care products that provide a highly sensorial experience, bring well-being and positive emotions. Such new luxury creations will require measurement of texture to ensure that the desired consumer’s sensory expectations are matched. Here you would be using the Texture Analyser to compare with previous formulations to check that your new offerings have textural benefits: creamier, easier to spread, smoother consistency. The value to cosmetic manufacturers of accurate and consistent objective measurement of the texture of different cosmetic products has been established for a long time. Now, more than ever, manufacturers are searching for up to date techniques to quantify their products’ attributes accurately and very quickly and develop technically superior products at a faster rate than their competitors. It’s time to get the texture right to stand out for these aspects and win customer hearts.

See a full list of applications, view videos, and learn more about the wide range of cosmetic textural properties that can be measured using a Texture Analyser.

We will be at In-Cosmetics in Paris next month 5-7th April (stand S99) discussing the application of a Texture Analyser for cosmetic, skincare and personal care products. Wherever you are in the world, the world of cosmetics will set you many testing challenges. But, with the expertise of Stable Micro Systems and the capability of the TA.XTplusC texture analyser on your team, they are challenges you can take on with confidence.

Visit us on stand S99 at In-cosmetics global

Texture: the flavour of the future TED Talk

Texture: the flavour of the future and TED Talking

What if you could eat chicken nuggets without harming a chicken? It's possible through "cellular agriculture," says Isha Datar, Executive Director at New Harvest. In a talk about cutting-edge science, she explains how this new means of food production makes it possible to eat meat without the negative consequences of industrial farming – and how it could fundamentally change our food systems for the better. "It's our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a second chance at agriculture," she says.

Isha shows us how a Texture Analyser is being used in her TED Talk: How we could eat real meat without harming animals. Sounds interesting? You can watch how it’s done here

Challenging peoples food perceptions

Meanwhile, Mugaritz, the eatery that Michelin star chef Andoni Luis Aduriz founded in 1998, has outgrown that label to become a laboratory that designs astronaut food and pushes customers out of their comfort zone, particularly in terms of new textural experiences. Watch a summary of what he does

The Texture Test in 2022

Linear vs Circular economy

The global food industry is entering a period of radical transformation, much of which is being pushed by the need for sustainable solutions.

New food products from by-products

How would you like to dig into a “recycled” snack? Or take a swig of juice with “reprocessed” ingredients made from other food by-products? Enter “upcycling.” This is a relatively new word for the concept of creating new food products from food manufacturing by-products. In many cases, this waste would have otherwise been used as animal feed or sent to landfill. For example, the maker of orange juice might previously have throw away the orange peelings – now those peelings can be snapped up by another food manufacturer who can design them into a new cereal bar formulation and thereby creating a circular economy system.

Upcycled foods are ones that "employ ingredients that would otherwise not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced via traceable supply chains, and have a positive influence on the environment," according to the Upcycled Food Association. In 2021, the Association introduced a new Upcycled Certification Standard. Soon, you might find an upcycled label on grocery store items.

Food waste is a major issue, and this new trend, which has a catchy new name designed to appeal to customers, may be able to assist. While appealing to consumers' ethical concerns, meeting commercial demand is not straightforward. The contribution of production processes, processing conditions, and ingredient substitution with these by-products to the change in finished product texture will all need to be evaluated. The potential market for such products is eager to embrace this environmentally sustainable approach, but you'll want to ensure that product quality is properly assessed and managed to avoid failure.

Find out more about how texture analysis can be applied to upcycled foods

Verticallly farmed foods

While many industries are contracting because of COVID-19, vertical farming is enhancing their demand. Vertical farming, which has been expanding in urban areas even before the pandemic, is now gaining huge growth as the vertical farms control everything from seed to store. Furthermore, they provide the consumers with information about where their food comes from, how it’s produced and reduces food miles.

In the field and in controlled environment agriculture operations, robots can now collect data on plant growth and genetics and interact with other computer systems to make critical decisions. Advancement s in robotics will also support the dwindling workforce in the farming industry, which is expected to drop by 6% by 2029. Companies are now tackling everything from direct harvesting to precision management of nutrients, pests, weeds and diseases which can help curb food waste and speed up services such as order fulfilment for food manufacturers whilst optimising product freshness.

As with any new development and innovation that is seen to replace a traditional approach or product there will be an expectation by the customer that must be met in order to attract purchase. Texture of fruits and vegetables is extremely important and for most is an indicator of freshness and wholesomeness. Feeding growing populations with vertical farming using the same seeds and plants as used in conventional agriculture will demonstrate a lag in innovation. Plant technology will need to advance to optimise hydroponics and gene architecture will allow enhancements in colour, flavour and texture. Texture Analysis provides the tool to compare traditionally farmed produce with those produced by vertical farming.

Find out more about how texture analysis can be applied to vertically farmed foods

Fermentation and Cellular Agriculture

Conventional animal agriculture requires large amounts of land, energy and water and contributes to emissions, soil and water degradation, and deforestation. Additionally, consolidation within the meat industry has increasingly concentrated power and profits in the hands of a few companies at the expense of farmers, communities and consumers making meat production vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. These factors have sparked interest and investment into alternative proteins made using fermentation technologies and beyond traditional plant-based formulations. We are sure to witness the reinvention of fermentation which pushes the boundaries of biology by creating new foods and medicines that will be more precise, healthly and more sustainable. Another booming area of opportunity is in cellular agriculture (the production of agricultural products such as chicken, beef, and dairy using cell cultures), which could constitute 35% of global meat consumption by 2040.

Economically viable cellular agriculture technology will be ready to come to market in 2022 which could hugely disrupt our food systems given how much of our resources are devoted to animal and seafood products and the role they play in our diets.

While consumers are actively trying to eat more plant-based, or might be willing to try cultured or fermented products that avoid animal cruelty they will not be willing to compromise on taste and texture. As with all alternative products, the proof is in the testing. The product will be rejected if the texture (and flavour) is not true to consumer expectation. That’s where texture analysis comes in. Once the alternative product is formulated it will need to be compared with the ‘gold standard’ product, who’s texture analysis fingerprint will have been created as the ideal textural quality. If the replacement product is in any way different to the traditional product’s texture it may well be back to the drawing board. Can you risk launching a new product that doesn’t measure up in every sense?

The use of cultured/fermented products offers a perfect solution to a more sustainable food production system. Consumers are ready to embrace this trend, but will only do so if taste, texture and health remain uncompromised so you’ll need to make sure that texture analysis is part of your product development process.

Find out more about how texture analysis can be applied to cell cultured foods

Food as medicine

We are seeing a fundamental shift in consumers’ mindset that food can improve their wellbeing and play a role in preventing chronic disease. The convergence of food and healthcare is still nascent and is a widely undefined sector. It goes beyond better-for-you products and really explores the clinical and pharmacological impact of food and food derivatives. There are many opportunities in this sector which could be seen as a highly complementary addition to the existing healthcare system.

For example, until recently, CBD was available in forms with a pharmaceutical emphasis, such as tablet supplements, skin gels, vapes or combined with a base oil such as coconut or olive. However, increased consumer awareness of CBD has opened the doors to a plethora of new dosage forms. Edibles are projected to be the fastest growing category of CBD-containing consumer products sold in mainstream retail outlets by 2024, adding $5.7 billion in revenue by that year. CBD can now be found included in products such as coffee, cake, croissants, beverages and pet treats as well as the more obvious gummies, tablets and vapes. Additionally, chefs are including CBD as a novelty ingredient on their restaurant menus.

As this market grows around the world, the research and development sector must turn its focus to quality control. As with any food product, texture is paramount to consumer acceptance, and the inclusion of a novel ingredient in any product from a mainstream manufacturer must undergo research into the consequent alteration of texture, as well as taste and appearance.

Find out more about how texture analysis can be applied to food containing CBD

Plant-Based Meat Progress

Plant based burger

The plant-forward movement is increasingly gaining traction. The likelihood remains that most people will not become vegetarian or vegan—rather, people will reduce their animal protein intake because it’s good for them to do so. Technology will also help drive that transition. Continuous efforts in research and development by plant-based meat manufacturers in terms of aroma, texture and shelf life of these new products is taking place all over the world. Specific users of the Stable Micro Systems Texture Analyser are employing texture analysis to optimize their products:

Quorn Foods are paving the way for exciting new alternative chicken innovations

Impossible foods is working on whole muscle meat products

Meatless Farm announces collaboration with Equinom will reduce carbon footprint

Beyond Meat rolls out chicken tenders into US Retail.

In the world of research, the following academic papers have recently been published that use their Texture Analyser as part of their meatless mechanical property assessment:

Physicochemical, textural and structural characteristics of wheat gluten-soy protein composited meat analogues prepared with the mechanical elongation method

Alternative protein from Pereskia aculeata Miller leaf mucilage: technological potential as an emulsifier and fat replacement in processed mortadella meat

Beef flavor vegetable hamburger patties with high moisture meat analogs (HMMA) with pulse proteins‐peas, lentils, and faba beans

If you need to review what tests are most suited to your meat substitutes or protein alternative products, visit our testing page.

The latest in dairy product innovation

Testing cheese with the TA.XTplusC Texture Analyser

There has been a tremendous boom in the fortification of dairy products in recent years with the aim to often enhance the ability of consumers to prevent or combat numerous non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia and cancer. Additionally fortified dairy products are suitable for supplying children and teenagers with additional minerals that are essential for growth or aimed at older people where calcium plays a major part. Active ingredients used in the formulation of functional foods giving such health benefits include vitamins such as vitamin B and D, minerals such as calcium and iron, plant derived ingredients such as phenolic compounds or extracts, essential oils and dietary fibre, and animal derived ingredients such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Various challenges have to be overcome in the fortification of dairy products. For example, the use of soluble mineral salts [especially calcium] can lead to coagulation reactions with milk proteins, taste can be impaired taste and sedimentation can occur. All of the above can lead to negative consumer impact and therefore need to be investigated. For the assessment of textural characteristics here are a few recent example of research in this field:

Development and Analysis of Physico-Chemical Properties of Set Yogurt Dual Fortified with Oat Powder and Ripe Jackfruit Flesh Pulp

Development of Vitamin C and Antioxidants Enriched Artisanal Gelato Ice Cream by Incorporating Gulkand

Yogucheeses–Yoghurts fortified with melted cheese: Microstructural, textural and rheological characterisation

Double emulsions fortified with plant and milk proteins as fat replacers in cheese

Flax seed has potential benefits on immune function, inflammatory diseases and reduced likelihood of platelet aggregation and certain types of cancer, especially breast and colon cancer. Chia seeds contain high portions of alpha linolenic acid and dietary fiber. In a patent released by Sweet Nothings the identified ratios of these superfoods have demonstrated smoother texture in various frozen food confections, including non-dairy, no-added-sugar formulations—specifically those based on whole fruits. By replacing common industrial stabilisers for ice creams, the proposed use of superfoods has the added benefit of increasing nutritional content and dietary fibers. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure ice cream firmness. Read more

There have been a few other developments that have employed a Texture Analyser for ice cream products:

Capturing the impact of nanobubble liquid in enhancing the physical quality of ice cream

Preparation of nanofibrillated cellulose from grapefruit peel and its application as fat substitute in ice cream

Fermented food products play an important role in the diets of various cultures around the world. Dairy-based fermented food products, such as yogurt and kefir, are popular foods that are available in many different forms. Dairy-based fermented food products can provide dietary protein and beneficial probiotic bacteria. However, many consumers prefer to avoid eating animal-based foods, including those based on milk ingredients. Non-dairy alternatives to yogurt are available, including yogurts based on soy, almond, and coconut milks. However, the available non-dairy alternatives to yogurt often suffer from poor texture, poor flavour, and/or low protein content. Thus, there is a need for improved non-dairy alternatives to yogurt. A patent has recently been released by Yoplait based on the discovery that pea protein can be used to make a non-dairy fermented food product containing substantially no added stabilisers and having a desirable texture. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform back extrusion measurements. Find out more

Meanwhile, the market for vegetable whipping cream, also commonly known as imitation cream or non-dairy cream, is increasing especially due to the vast variety of applications of the product. There are very low seasonal variations in the final product compared to those of dairy whipping cream and this is a benefit in many applications. Additionally, the significantly lower manufacturing costs relative to those involved in the manufacture of dairy whipping cream makes the product increasingly popular. A patent has recently been released by Dupont Nutrition Biosciences which relates to a whipping cream comprising high acyl gellan. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure cream firmness using a cylinder penetration test. Read more

The global market for plant-based foods intended as alternatives to cheese products will reach almost $4 billion by 2024. Researchers from University College Cork have been investigating the composition and physicochemical properties of commercial plant-based block-style products as alternatives to cheese using their Texture Analyser. Read more

Meanwhile, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi have been assessing 3D printability of heat acid coagulated milk semi-solids 'soft cheese' by correlating rheological, microstructural and textural properties. Read more

And finally, a patent has recently been released by General Mills, entitled 'Cheese Compositions and Related Methods'. Various reasons exist, such as cost, for food product development to attempt to reduce levels of certain ingredients such as casein protein and replace at least a portion of the reduced amount of the casein protein with a protein or non-protein substitute ingredient. Casein protein is naturally found in milk and can provide a cheese composition with desired functional, organoleptic, and nutritional properties, but using a casein substitute can reduce composition cost. This patent describes cheese compositions that can include fat, casein protein, water, optional fiber, optional non-casein protein, and optional starch. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure cheese firmness. Read more

Development of Plant-Based Seafood Analogs

Plant based fishcakes

Blue Nalu (San Diego), Kuleana Seafood (San Francisco), New Wave Foods (San Francisco), Wild Type Foods (USA) have all chosen the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser for the development of plant-based seafood and to get ahead in the game in this exciting new field. Plant-based alternatives that mimic seafood are cropping up at restaurants and grocery stores around the world and “cultivated” seafood grown in labs from real cells, is on the horizon.

For a number of reasons, there is an increasing global requirement to move from animal diets to plant-based ones. The first is that the growing global population and high animal-based food consumption lead to a decline in the natural resources of land and freshwater needed to agriculturally sustain this inefficient production. This results in enormous environmental pressures, a decrease in biodiversity and increased environmental pollution, global warming and related adverse effects. Second, unhealthy, unbalanced nutritional practises and insufficient physical activity have led to a rise in chronic diseases, obesity and cancer. Finally, animal welfare has become a more prominent interest for many with the resulting hope of replacing traditional meat and fish production with plant-based alternatives.

It is worth noting that, thanks to their high nutritional value and positive health impacts, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended an increased consumption of fishmeat and seafood. However, higher marine fish and seafood production in the wake of these recommendations, results in further decline of marine biodiversity, ecological damage and fish conditions which can all have negative impacts on the ecosystem.

In addition, discarding of unwanted catches to the sea has become a concern to the European Commission, which developed a reform in the Common Fisheries Policy, to battle this environmentally irresponsible behaviour. These facts, along with the consequent rising dietary shifts towards vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, encourage the development of plant-based analogs to fish and seafood, mimicking the texture and sensorial properties of fish-meat, seafood or processed fish products.

The market of plant-based meat analogs, or meat alternatives, has been steadily increasing. Intense research and product development efforts are aimed at mimicking the structure, texture or sensorial properties of whole-muscle meat, or processed meat products, such as burgers, patties, sausage, and nuggets, including the ones of fish-meat and seafood. Mimicking the structure, texture and sensorial properties of fish-meat is an emerging niche in the field of meat analogs. Vegans and vegetarians, who avoid animal-based seafood for humanitarian and sustainability reasons, but like their taste and nutritional benefits, would be able to enjoy highly similar alternative foods, not requiring the killing of animals. People who consume ‘Kosher’ foods will be able to enjoy the taste and texture of seafood, without violating their religious rules. The environment, and consequently future generations, will benefit from less disturbance to marine ecosystems, and better sustainability.

Mimicking the internal structure and texture of fish or seafood requires simulating their nanometric fibrous structure, resulting from the tissue-, cellular and molecular level structures, particularly from intra- and intermolecular bonds between protein chains. Some works have integrated plant protein isolates or concentrates, mainly from soy and pea, into surimi gels, through partial or full substitution of fish raw material or fish myofibrillar proteins. Most companies do not aim to imitate the structure and texture of fish or seafood, but to imitate the sensorial properties of processed fish products, in terms of appearance, texture, smell and taste. Here are a few products that are on the market or under development and what they are using as their main ingredient.

Plant-based fish and seafood alternatives on the market, or under development

Left: Predetermined piercing locations for MORS test. Right: Typical Exponent graph output for MORS test

There are a number of texture measurements available to characterise seafood analogs that are based on the methods used for testing real fish and fish products. For fish and fish products the issues of firmness, gaping, and the creation of surimi products with an authentic shell-fish texture that are barely distinguishable from the real thing present challenges. At each stage in surimi product development, production and quality control, food manufacturers can quantify textural parameters such as toughness, elasticity, stiffness, cutting strength and gel strength using the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. The effects of gel moisture content, salt concentration, cooking temperature and length of time heat is applied during processing are typical assessments which cut out the guess‑work.

A wide range of fish product test methods is built into Exponent Texture Analyser software and will automatically load at the click of a button. This helps make your testing quicker to access and the analysis of your product properties is already prepared for you. Find out more about fish testing methods

With demand for plant-based protein products unlikely to slow down any time soon, we expect to see innovations in this market to accelerate at a rapid pace. This means that, to stand out in an ever more competitive industry, brands need to formulate on-trend products that continually meet textural expectations.

By-products in the baking industry and their effect on texture

By-products in the baking industry

Food waste and by-products are generated in large quantities in the food industry. 38% of this waste occurs during food processing. It arises from a variety of sources including animal-derived (e.g. hooves, feathers, blood and whey) and vegetable-derived (e.g. peelings, seeds, starch and juice). The disposal of this waste is of detriment to the environment due to its poor biological stability, significant nutritional value and high concentration of organic compounds. The large amount of food waste and its microbial decomposition may cause adverse effect on the environment and human health. At a large cost for waste treatment, it is an additional financial burden on the food manufacturer. Food manufacturing industries have low profit margins and the additional impact of the processing cost of waste is a great disadvantage to the food industry along with the agricultural sector and the country’s economy. There is, therefore, a great motivation to reduce this waste. One form this can take is through the efficient use of by-products, exploiting their often favourable textural or nutritional properties (polysaccharides, proteins, fats, fibres, flavour compounds, phytochemicals and bioactive compounds).

The large volume of low cost by-products gives an economical advantage. Functional ingredients obtained from industrial by-products are a promising vehicle for the nutritional improvement of traditional bakery products and may provide health promoting properties. However, the incorporation of by-product functional ingredients also influences technological and sensorial properties.

A patent has recently been released by Cornell University, entitled 'extrusion of agro-food industry by-products and protein concentrates into value-added foods'. As the agro-food industries grow worldwide, increasingly large quantities of fruit-processing by-products are generated as waste accounting for 25-40% of the total fruits processed. These fruit residues, referred to as ‘pomace’, are the pulpy solid remaining after the extraction of juice from fruits. This patent describes the production of edible foodstuffs from food industry by-products and protein concentrates using supercritical fluid extrusion (SCFX), as well as the edible foodstuffs produced by these processes, such as shelf-stable puffed products. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the textural properties of pomace puffs. The process of this patent could serve as a model system for today's food processing operations to better transform their by-product streams into value-added, edible products. Read more

There have been countless publications of research into the use of by-products in the bakery and snack industries using Texture Analysers, in both academic and industrial settings. Some examples of the most recent research in bakery applications are outlined below.

· Effect of incorporation of goji berry by-product on biochemical, physical and sensory properties of selected bakery products

· Rejuvenated Brewer's Spent Grain: EverVita Ingredients as Game-Changers in Fibre-Enriched Bread

· Fermentation as a Tool to Revitalise Brewers' Spent Grain and Elevate Techno-Functional Properties and Nutritional Value in High Fibre Bread

· Influence of pistachio by-product from edible oil industry on rheological, hydration, and thermal properties of wheat dough

· The food industry by-products in bread making: single and combined effect of carob pod flour, sugar beet fibers and molasses on dough rheology, quality and food

· Straightforward extraction of date palm syrup from Phoenix dactylifera L. byproducts: application as sucrose substitute in sponge cake formulation

· Use of aniseed cold-pressed by-product as a food ingredient in muffin formulation

· Effect of Addition of Green Coffee Parchment on Structural, Qualitative and Chemical Properties of Gluten-Free Bread

· Biscuits Enriched with Dietary Fibre Powder Obtained from the Water-Extraction Residue of Maize Milling by-Product

And in the snacks industry…

· Development of New Chip Products from Brewer's Spent Grain

· Unripe Papaya By-Product: From Food Wastes to Functional Ingredients in Pancakes

· Utilisation of Potato Peel in Fabricated Potato Snack

Texture Analysis is a mandatory stage in the Research and Development of bakery and snack products incorporating by-products, when texture can be altered by the addition of different quantities of ingredients, and must be measured after each iteration of ingredient or process modifications.

Texturisers in cosmetic products

texturisers in cosmetic products

Texture is a hugely important aspect of the cosmetics industry, delivering points of difference and that sense of indulgence critical for many formulations. In addition, the texture increases efficacy for many types of formulation, no more so than in sun care where the coverage ensures correct application and therefore protecting the skin from harmful rays. Following is a selection of the latest technology from ingredient suppliers giving formulators the opportunity to develop products with enhanced textures and sensory profiles.

Seaweed can be a source of natural texturisers for the personal care industry and here Cargill explains how they produce their carrageenans sustainably. Carrageenans are very versatile molecules widely used in the food and personal care industry for properties like gelling, thickening, stabilisation, water-binding and providing a wide variety of textures. They can be formulated in skin care products like serums, gels, emulsions, creams, lotions, toners and in skin cleansing products like face wash, bodywash, shaving gels, face masks and in hair care products like shampoos, leave on hair gels, styling hair gel. In personal care, carrageenans are mainly used in oral care applications, with more than 70% of the total volume used being dedicated to oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash. Iota and lambda carrageenan exhibit shear thinning properties which have a desirable dual advantage. The first is related to packaging. When shear is applied, the product with carrageenan is easy to pump as it decreases in viscosity showing shear thinning behaviour. The second advantage is with application of the product on skin. When shear is applied in the form of rubbing, the product is much easier to spread and gives good skin coverage with a non-tacky, soft and smooth sensory performance.

Ashland has launched ‘dreamy textures’, a collection of four nature-derived formulations with novel textures, as research shows that consumers are seeking to lower stress levels with at-home pampering sessions. The four dreamy texture formulations include: Beauty sleep gel cream: a is a delightfully luxurious and fresh, quick vanishing texture; Counting sheep butter-in-gel is an innovative texture with a unique appearance that transforms into a smooth cream and melts on the skin upon application. Resetting lunar mask is a novel cream texture that resets to a smooth surface after each use and leaves a velvety soft skin feel. Dreamy renewing butter a deliciously rich, buttery texture that melts on contact with skin leaving a powdery, velvety finish.

As formulators seek raw materials with a perfect combination of natural feel and human skin softness, natural silicones are creating more possibilities. Hunan Silok Silicone has invested a lot in the R&D of their natural series of products. The latest result of this is the modified silicone oil SiCare-2802. In the development of a new product, formulators need to strictly control the compatibility of various ingredients to ensure the stability of the formulation. The variable compatibility of different kinds of oil can greatly limit the scope of material under consideration. Formulators must also consider the final skin affinity and texture of the product and this is where texture analysis is employed.

Within the cosmetics and personal care industries there have been some technical advancements that have required texture analysis methods to measure the effect of formulation on texture and provide claims substantiation to the texture property under scrutiny. Here are a range of patents from users of the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser:

Estee Lauder

Long Wear Skincare Compositions

Existing facial peel-off masks often include PVP or PVA, which can be uncomfortable, especially for consumers with sensitive skin. They are also difficult to remove. Many masks that are intended to be worn for an extended periods, such as eight hours, are not transfer resistant. This can be true of overnight treatment masks where transfer of product to a pillow is likely. This patent disclosed specific combinations of acrylates/VA copolymer and acrylates copolymer in a cosmetically acceptable base or delivery vehicle. Such compositions were useful as high shine colour cosmetic compositions that are flexible and resistant to water below about 43° C. The compositions wear well, are transfer, smudge and flake resistant, as well as oil resistant, making them very suitable as high shine, long wear cosmetics. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure film properties.

Procter & Gamble

Packaged Personal Cleansing Product
Personal Care Composition with Increased Vapour Release

A challenge faced by body wash users is that the liquid properties of the body wash composition which allow it to be easily dispensed from a package onto the hand or implement used for cleansing, also allow it to flow off the hands or implement, making it difficult to close the package and start lathering without the product falling onto the floor and being wasted. As such, there is a desire for an improved body wash which is less likely to fall from the intended surface and be lost down the drain. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure dispensing velocity, weighing the package before and after the test.

Personal care compositions are routinely used by consumers on the chest, back and/or throat to provide relief from nasal congestion, dry cough, chest congestion, muscle aches and/or pains, and difficulty sleeping due to the common cold and/or flu. Olfactory compositions can be released from the personal care composition as vapours, which are inhaled through the nose and can provide the sensation of cooling and relief. However, some consumers find that current products are not strong enough to provide the desired level of symptom relief. There is a need for a personal care composition that provides a strong sensory experience that is noticeable to users without irritating the skin and while maintaining physical stability and texture. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform measurements with a Spreadability Rig.

Dow Silicones

Cosmetic Composition Comprising Silicone Materials

There is an ongoing need for silicone materials that provide for care of keratinous substrates and improved aesthetics in cosmetic applications, a need for hair care compositions that give hair shiny appearance without an oily feel and look, a need for composition with good in-use experience, that look and feel better, and are more stable over time in terms of phase separation and aggregation, and finally, a need for cosmetic compositions that provide improved coverage and hiding of wrinkles, fine lines, and pores, with improved moisturising effect, while also providing a smooth, light feeling to the skin. This patent describes cosmetic compositions comprising a silicone based material cured via a condensation cure chemistry and at least one cosmetic ingredient, in a cosmetically acceptable medium. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to measure penetration force of samples, determining cure properties.


Matte Lipstick Composition

The use of lipsticks as means for colouring lips has undergone rapid growth, such that lipsticks are now widespread beauty products. A cosmetically acceptable lipstick should spread easily, have a homogeneous colour and exhibit a melting point above body temperature. Moreover, it should give the lips a smooth but non-greasy appearance and should retain the consistency thereof without exudation, oozing, rupture or disintegration phenomena occurring. A lipstick should not only have the qualities described above, but above all give the lips a smooth and creamy sensation and protect them from drying or chapping. It is particularly difficult to obtain such a smooth and creamy sensation using lipsticks having a reduced sheen or gloss, namely a matte appearance. The aim of this patent was to provide a lipstick with a matte and colour-intense appearance and a homogeneous and light texture and which remains so over time. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform hardness measurements.

Scientists from the University of Toledo have been researching rheology-texture-sensory relations when using green, bio-derived emollients in cosmetic emulsions. Product aesthetics and sensory performance can strongly influence a cosmetic product’s acceptance by consumers. However, classic sensory analysis is time‐consuming, expensive and does not provide information on the target group’s preference.The goals of this research were to quantitatively characterize the rheology and textural properties of the six cosmetic emulsions containing green, bio‐derived emollients and identify statistical relationships between the consumers’ description of products and instrumental measurements. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform physical measurements on these samples. Certain sensory attributes were found to be reliably predicted with instrumental measurements. Identifying and quantifying sensory–texture–rheology relationships can contribute to achieving appropriate product characteristics tailored to suit market needs. Read more

Vertical Farming and the need for Texture Analysis

Vertical farming of vegetables

Indoor vertical farming has been around for quite some time, but leading companies in this industry are starting to gain a great deal of attention from the business press and investors are pouring money into the industry. As the world population continues to expand, so too does the amount of fruits and vegetables needed to feed the world. If we can’t create new farmland to accommodate the increase in fresh food required vertical farming can be part of the solution to this problem.

Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which is a fancy way of saying that it provides protection and maintains optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop. It’s not just growing vegetables like we traditionally know – if you’re serious in this field, it’s a big data, high tech endeavour with staff consisting of chief technology officers, engineers, scientists and risk managers. One example is AeroFarms, a leader in the space, their plant scientists monitor millions of data points every harvest. The company says their LED lights are used “to create a specific light recipe for each plant, giving the greens exactly the spectrum, intensity, and frequency, they need for photosynthesis in the most energy-efficient way possible.” This lighting allows them to control size, shape, texture, colour, flavour, and nutrition of their plants.

LEDs are being used extensively as a supplementary light source in indoor agriculture due to the economical and physiological advantages that this artificial illumination offers compared to traditional fluorescence illumination. Recently researchers from the University of Murcia have been investigating the artificial light impact on the physical and nutritional quality of lettuce plants with an aim of looking into food production under sustainable conditions. In this work, two commercially important lettuce varieties were used to study the impact of LEDs (white and red–blue lights) and fluorescent illumination on their quality and health properties. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser along with a Kramer Shear Cell to measure leaf texture. Read more

As with any new development and innovation that is seen to replace a traditional approach or product there will be an expectation by the customer that must be met in order to attract purchase. Texture of fruits and vegetables is extremely important and for most is an indicator of freshness and wholesomeness. Feeding growing populations with vertical farming using the same seeds and plants as used in conventional agriculture will demonstrate a lag in innovation. Plant technology will need to advance to optimise hydroponics and gene architecture will allow enhancements in colour, flavour and texture. Texture Analysis provides the tool to compare traditionally farmed produce with those produced by vertical farming.

Why Vertical Farming? The benefits

First and foremost, vertical farms can reduce the number of miles fresh fruits and vegetables must travel in order to reach supermarket shelves. This also reduces fuel consumption, driving down the total cost to consumers. Studies have shown that the US imports about 35 percent of the produce that lands on supermarket shelves, with the average item traveling 2,000 miles. With this distance travelled, the produce has been picked roughly two-weeks before consumers can get their hands on it. Even for domestic produce, the time and cost to pick, pack and ship the produce from California to the East Coast is five to seven days. However, with a smaller footprint, vertical farms can be set up in urban areas, allowing for fresh produce to get to the shelf faster.

Secondly, less space is required for vertical farming. Every square meter of floor space of vertical farming produces approximately the same amount of vegetable crops as 50 square meters of conventionally worked farmland. According to a recent report by Cushman & Wakefield PLC., over the next few years, warehouse supply will outpace warehouse demand. This means that excess warehouse space could be turned in to vertical farming facilities. The use of vertical farms in densely populated places can get more fresh produce on supermarket shelves faster and could even spur home delivery to consumers.

Sustainability is a top concern for consumers and companies alike. Vertical farming plays a significant role in sustainability efforts as well as the greater good of the earth. According to recent studies, vertical farms use up to 70 percent less water than traditional farms. Additionally, given their isolated nature, pesticides and herbicides are not needed to thwart would-be pests.

In recent years, there have been a number of E. coli outbreaks from green, leafy vegetables. In most cases, the E. coli outbreak was related to washing practices of the vegetables. Vertical farming is dirt-free and requires no washing of the vegetables. This alone can prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.

Vertical farming can assist in achieving maximum yields. First, plants only need about 10 minutes of darkness a day. Getting light all day long allows the plants to grow faster. Also, traditional farmers usually apply fertilizer once, water the crop and hope it grows. Fertilizers can be applied many times, adjusting along the way to optimise plant growth.

Vertical farming enables more harvests throughout the year. Since harvests are not climate related, they can be done year-round. For some fruits and vegetables, this means having up to 30 harvests in a year rather than five or six. Consumers no longer have to wait for produce to be “in season.” There is also no worry about spoilage due to weather conditions, which enables maximised production.

While traditional farms rely on natural sunlight, vertical farms do not. Renewable energy sources are one way these companies can try to offset the cost and environmental impact of traditional energy. And LED lights are becoming more efficient at a rapid pace.

Traditional farming is clearly not going away any time soon. In fact, if it did, the world would be in a whole lot of trouble. However, as the population continues to grow, and more emphasis is put on environmental sustainability, vertical farming can help to fill that void. The future of vertical farming looks bright. It will be an interesting market to watch over the next few years.

The primary author of this article was Chris Cunnane, a Research Director for Supply Chain Management at the ARC Advisory Group.

Texture Analysis of chocolate

The myriad textures of chocolate

In modern chocolate manufacturing, automated equipment has replaced the manual processes that traditionally relied largely on the experience and skill of the chocolatier. For quality control purposes and customer satisfaction, it is increasingly important to apply the correct processing conditions and controlling parameters, such as time, temperature, moisture content and the relative humidity of the surrounding air. The careful choice of these parameters will not only aid the manufacturing process, they will ensure a top quality product straight from the factory, and after a period of storage. Chocolate is a dispersion of sugar and cocoa particles in a continuous phase of cocoa butter. In milk chocolate, non-fat milk components are also present in the dispersed phase and butter fat is present in the continuous fat phase. When the liquid product is not properly tempered and cooled, higher melting point glycerides solidify within an oily mass. The resulting product has poor texture and a tendency to develop fat bloom on cool storage. The texture of chocolate is generally quite stable on storage unless the product is subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations, which cause melting and solidification. This leads to textural deterioration as attributed above to uncontrolled solidification of cocoa butter during processing. This can, to some extent, be prevented by addition of lecithin.

Many different test methods are suitable for the measurement of chocolate texture, ranging from penetration and cutting to compression and bending.

The breaking strength of rigid samples such as chocolate can be determined by performing a three-point bend test. In this test, a sample is supported across a span of known distance, a force is applied to the centre of the sample (which is also central to the supports) and the breaking force is determined. Such a test may, for example, be used to assess the effect of different ingredients used, or to examine typical finished product problems such as moisture uptake.

The breaking strength (force per unit width) or breaking stress (force per unit area) of the chocolate sample is taken as the maximum strength or stress value of the curve. Other textural characteristics that may be of interest are the distance to break and the gradient of the slope during application of force, giving a measurement of the sample’s stiffness. The distance to break gives an indication of the brittleness of the chocolate as this shows how far a sample can be deformed before fracture.

Three point bend test

Vickers testing has been a very widely-used technique for many materials for decades due to simple data analysis and test preparation. Many applications demand a tip made from a very hard material such as diamond or sapphire, as the indenter must be significantly harder than the material under investigation. However, stainless steel is suitable for testing many softer materials such as tablets, soap, fruit and vegetables, cheese, chocolate and some polymers.

Traditionally, Vickers hardness is calculated by inputting the indentation diagonals into a standard formula. However, instrumented indentation on a Texture Analyser allows automatic hardness analysis without the use of a microscope. It also enables other parameters such as stress relaxation and elastic-plastic energy ratios to be calculated. This stainless steel Vickers indenter is designed for fast and repeatable hardness testing of soft materials, such as those often used in the food, pharmaceutical and personal care industries.

Depending on the sample type, it may be tested directly on the instrument base, or it may be more convenient to use a container or the Heavy Duty Platform. The use of a platform is recommended for chocolate testing to help insulate the sample from the warmth of the instrument base.

Vickers hardness probe

The above curves were produced from testing white chocolate at 21°C, 4°C and -18°C. It can be seen as the sample temperature is decreased, the maximum force increases, indicating a higher sample hardness.

Samples made up of multi-layers, such as a chocolate bar with layers of cream, chocolate, biscuit or wafer, can be penetrated with a thin probe or cut with a craft knife. It is important to carry out these measurements with a slow test speed so the properties of each layer can be determined separately. The following image shows a knife test cutting through layers of wafer in a chocolate bar. This is typical of the fluctuations in force observed when cutting through laminated specimens.

Results of a knife test cutting through layers of wafer in a chocolate bar

An important property of chocolate during the manufacturing process is its adhesion when demoulding. Experimental determination of chocolate adhesion to a mould was carried out by researchers at the University of Leeds (Keijbets, Chen and Vieira, 2010), using a fixture developed specifically for this work. The surface adhesion force, or stickiness, was measured by pulling a flat polycarbonate probe off a solidified chocolate sample, as shown in the schematic diagram below. This imitated the forces involved in the demoulding process of commercial chocolate bars. Processing parameters such as temperature, contact time and environmental humidity have a significant impact on chocolate crystallisation and solidification processes and on the adhesion of chocolate to a mould surface. A Peltier Controlled Cabinet is invaluable in this type of chocolate experimentation, as it provides a controlled temperature range between 0 and 50°C.

A schematic diagram of the procedure and conditions of the surface adhesion measurements.
A schematic diagram of the procedure and conditions of the surface adhesion measurements

There are numerous projects integrated into Exponent software that can be applied to chocolate testing. Additionally, when these are combined with user-generated projects (as seen in the last example), the enormous capability and flexibility of Stable Micro Systems’ Texture Analysers can be seen.

Texture Analysis in the growing CBD edibles market

CBD chocolates

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, a product derived from cannabis, that is now widely sold in the UK and other countries around the world. Its properties are said to cause relaxation and relief from pain, nausea and anxiety. Seven in ten consumers believe that CBD offers health benefits including pain management, reduced anxiety, relaxation and reduced inflammation, according to the Natural Marketing Institute’s 2020 Whole Cannabis Study.

Until recently, CBD was available in forms with a pharmaceutical emphasis, such as tablet supplements, skin gels, vapes or combined with a base oil such as coconut or olive. However, increased consumer awareness of CBD has opened the doors to a plethora of new dosage forms. Edibles are projected to be the fastest growing category of CBD-containing consumer products sold in mainstream retail outlets by 2024, adding $5.7 billion in revenue by that year.

Inspired by the success of CBD sale in the US, in the UK market, CBD is increasingly being found included in food and drink, as businesses have picked up on this public awareness. These products are now being promoted online and in high street retailers, led in part by the permission of some cannabis prescriptions by the UK government.1

CBD can now be found included in products such as coffee, cake, croissants, beverages and pet treats as well as the more obvious gummies, tablets and vapes. Additionally, chefs are including CBD as a novelty ingredient on their restaurant menus. Incorporating CBD is a challenge in many foods due to its strong, earthy and bitter taste. Therefore, it is usually found in foods with a similar flavour pallet, such as chocolate and coffee.

As the edible market grows around the world, the research and development sector must turn its focus to quality control. As with any food product, texture is paramount to consumer acceptance, and the inclusion of a novel ingredient in any product from a mainstream manufacturer must undergo research into the consequent alteration of texture, as well as taste and appearance.

An application study from Texture Technologies USA, ‘Cannabis Gummies Tested Four Ways’, looks into the measurement of edible cannabis gummies using a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. As a popular delivery method for CBD as well as the more potent THC, quality and consistency will be important as firms begin to apply pharmaceutical grade quality standards to edible cannabis products. In this application study, four testing methods were used to quantify the firmness, toughness, adhesiveness and resilience of these products. These metrics quantify the textural experience of the gummies and how those metrics change as a function of packaging and extended storage. Find out more

Texture Analyser testing cannabis gummies

Over in Finland, researchers from Åbo Akademi University have been investigating data-enriched edible pharmaceuticals (DEEP) of medical cannabis by inkjet printing. Medical cannabis has shown to be effective in various diseases that have not successfully been treated with other marketed drug products. However, the dose of cannabis is highly individual and medical cannabis is prone to misuse. To combat these challenges, the concept of DEEP is introduced. Quick Response code patterns containing lipophilic cannabinoids, i.e., CBT and THC, were printed using a desktop inkjet printer. Different doses of CBD and THC were incorporated in the DEEP by printing various layers of the cannabinoid-containing ink on porous substrates, i.e., solid foams. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform mechanical testing of samples. The printed DEEP were still readable after 8 weeks of storage in dry and cold conditions. This approach of ‘in-drug labelling’ instead of ‘drug package labelling’ provides a new possibility for developing a more efficient supply chain of pharmaceuticals. Read more

Published research into Texture Analysis of CBD-containing products has so far been minimal, but this area of research is set to flourish in coming years along with the growing market.

1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/cbd_in_food

Texture: A standout theme in food

A range of textural snacks

No one can deny the importance of texture and mouthfeel in our enjoyment of food. As consumers, we have desired textural characteristics ingrained in our brain for each consumable that we eat. These characteristics are inherently linked to the perceived quality of a product. Soggy crackers, grainy chocolate, mushy apple – all would appear disappointing.

Texture Trends

According to Food Ingredients First three mega-trends are driving the increased interest in texture: plant-based, clean label and sugar reduction. These three health-driven trends are inspiring reformulation, and are forcing manufacturers to bring textures that are recognisable or exciting.

A Time for Texture

Texture preference is linked with snack choice and eating occasion. Texture plays a role in snack choice, and consumers associate specific textures with certain times of the day, such as soft and puffy or crumbly snacks in the morning, crispy, chewy leisure-time snacks and premium soft and puffy dessert textures in the evening.

Top Territories for Texture

On a global level, consumers of all ages increasingly value textural attributes of food, and are open to a range of texture across different categories. Asia is definitely the region to watch when it comes to texture innovation.

63% of Chinese consumers say that rich textures would make them try snacks that are trending on social media. The bubble tea trend in Asia has opened a new space for snackable drink formats with edible inclusions. Latest launches in Mintel include floral lattes incorporating jelly pieces, confectionery featuring layers of different textures, and multi textural ice creams. China, Japan and South Korea are among the most forward-thinking markets when it comes to incorporating texture into food and drink.

• Texture is an integral consideration for US snack bar consumers too - US consumers consider snack bars to be chewy and to feature added fruit or grains, while performance and weight-loss bars are associated with crunchy or dense textures.

UK sweets eaters have emotional connections to texture. Soft and buttery is the most engaging texture provided by sugar confectionery in the UK. Meanwhile, crunchy and chewy-textured sweets can provide a sense of satisfaction. Today’s more experience-driven consumers demand more from their food and beverages, and encounters that appeal to multiple senses beyond taste will provide consumers with escapes from their routines and create opportunities for manufacturers to deliver memorable experiences.

Top Texture Innovation Tips to engage consumers of all ages:

1. Experiment with multi-textural innovations

Experimental brands are looking to provide consumers with the unexpected mouthfeel of multiple textures. Typically a mix of crunchy and creamy, mousse-like and crisp creates interesting textures that consumers love. For example , we are seeing chocolate launches featuring the contrasting textures of soft, chewy fruit with crunchy meringue or cookie. Snack innovations that pair crunchy nuts or vegetables with soft chewy fruit offers consumer a healthier alternative.

2. Layer it up

Layering multiple textures offers unexpected mouthfeel. Snack bars that layer nuts and granola with nut butters and a fruit or chocolate layer are an exciting innovation in the snacking space.

3. Filled Indulgence

Nature Valley (UK) created the Nut Butter Cup, which pairs a crunchy cookie cup, with a creamy nut butter filling, topped with crunchy chopped nuts), and active nutrition brands such as CLIF Bar (US) are boosting the indulgence factor with a range of filled bars. In the APAC market, we are seeing super exciting innovation in the energy ball segment, e.g. with a dual filling of peanut butter and fruit jelly .

Textural experimentation across the bakery segment can also bolster indulgence credentials – picture filled cookies and cake products featuring softs pastes or cremes, with a chewy or crunchy contrast.

4. To top it off

Creative new takes on textural toppings, which add to visual and textural appeal could make a difference. The global backlash on sugar has manufacturers looking towards healthier alternatives to traditional sugar-based toppings.

5. "Thins" play with texture for better-for-you benefits

Manufacturers have developed products with a "thin" appearance and texture to appeal to those looking for lighter, healthier options or for those seeking new textural experiences. This is playing out particularly across the chocolate and long shelf life bakery segments.

6. Fun and excitement for all

To 'bring joy to life' and support those who have difficulty swallowing and/or poor appetite, an interesting development was introduced under the Eat Bar label in the US. Available in four flavours, these calorie-dense meringue bars that melt on the tongue are recommended for consumers of all ages, with a special focus on seniors and young children.

7. Multi-sensory for the adventurous iGeneration

Products seeking to connect with the tweens, teens and young adults of the iGeneration also can use texture and mouthfeel to provide these young consumers with experiences worthy of seeking out and sharing on social media. Fizzy, sour, spicy or the unexpected (take Fanta’s Jelly Fizz containing liquid jelly pieces) – they are up for the challenge!

The opportunity - in a world where consumers want the experience amplified, the sound, feel and satisfaction provided by texture can make products more captivating. Creating the unexpected with combinations of textures that surprise and delight consumers of all ages can help to position products as fresher, more filling or simply more fun.

This article is based on an original article by Taura.

Enhancing Textures: An Introduction to the Hydrocolloid Universe

Hydrocolloid gel

With names like Ultra-Tex 3, Methocel F50, and agar agar, hydrocolloids sound like they’re meant for science fiction novels, not our pantries. However, these seemingly mysterious white powders are incredibly valuable in food development and can provide fun new textural experiences. Derived from natural sources (like seaweed, tapioca, and plant matter), hydrocolloids have been used for centuries to thicken foods and enhance textures. From spherification to stabilisation, hydrocolloids can help you make fancy foams, delicious gummy candies, and intriguing fluid gels.

Texturising agents are mainly used for improving the texture of the food by providing it with creaminess, clarity, thickness, viscosity, and various other characteristics. Various texturising ingredients available in the food texture market add various characteristics to the food. They are used alone or in a blend, in order to provide texture to the ultimate product and are helpful in providing stable structure to the food, thus increasing its shelf life. Texturisers such as thickening, gelling, emulsifying, stabilising, binding, and clarifying agents have many versatile functions, which have escalated their usage in application-specific ingredients and new upscale end-use products.

Whether you’re a hydrocolloid rookie or just need a quick refresher, this guide from Chefsteps.com will introduce you to some of the most common hydrocolloids and similar thickeners.

Texture is magical. The way a food “feels” affects the way we perceive its appearance, aroma and taste. And while manipulation of mouthfeel can seem mysterious, many tricks can help developers create and maintain the perfect texture — be it real or illusion.

Among this equipment sits a Texture Analyser, the source of ultimate objective quantification of whether the food is ‘more crisp, firm, sticky, etc.’ as a result of a new technique or the addition of a certain ingredient to the formulation. 

To find out more about how texture analysis can be applied to your formulations and textural creations , you might like to request one (or both) of the following articles:

Article about Using novelty gels and films in food product development and edible packaging
Article about How to perform textural magic

Using novelty gels and films in food product development and edible packaging

How to perform textural magic 

Confectionery: Texture Geekery

boiled sugar formula

What makes chewy candies so appealing? Texture is a huge part of it. That’s why a lot of professional chefs love making candy – manipulating texture is what chefs do. Professional confectioners, too, are masters of texture, and they’re seriously well schooled in the ingredients that go into our favourite confections.

For every piece of chewy candy, there are a few key elements that dictate texture: Soluble solids control the firmness of a certain product. Gums control the “bite” (supple, snappy, or brittle, for example). And fat and air soften the texture in a way that soluble solids alone cannot. Candies like Starburst, for example, seem hard at first but then yield to your bite. It’s the high concentration of soluble solids that makes them hard; incorporating air and fat, meanwhile, makes the texture soft enough to chew.

The science of candy-making is complex (and fascinating), and understanding a few basic concepts will give you the knowledge you need to get started on your own textural creations.

This article is a sweet technical feast and covers ‘the science of snap’, ‘5 steps to chewy sweets’, and an explanation about concentration and its effects on texture and the options for gelling agent which will dictate product texture.

Food Texture Design by 3D Printing: A Review

3D printing of potato snacks

The food industry is experiencing a paradigm shift. People’s growing awareness of the food that they consume and the drive for new customised sensory experiences is pushing for the development of new technologies that can satisfy these new consumers’ standards. One of these novel technologies, 3D Printing, has been around for a while, however, only in 2007 was it applied for the first time in the production of food structures.

This technology has attracted a lot of attention for its versatility and potential application in various production sectors, such as aerospace, electronics, architecture, and medicine but it is becoming more apparent that in the food production sector this technology has the potential to be used to create personalised food products, enabling the creation of food products with specific design characteristics, flavours and colours, geometric structures, textures, and nutritional profiles.

Some corporations are already using this technology in the fabrication of their products, such as Hershey’s (chocolates), Barilla (pasta noodle), Ruffles (potato chips), Oreo (cookies), and Mazola (fruits and vegetables). In the production of meat-based products, Aleph Farms and Meatech use 3D Printing in the production of laboratory-grown meat, and Redefine Meat and Novameat for plant-based meat.

Beyond taste and appearance, one of the major factors in consumer acceptability is the texture and mouthfeel of the food. While taste and appearance are the factors that attract more attention during food production and consumer purchase, texture is crucial in food preferences and can make a difference at the time of purchase.

In the case of elderly and people with swallowing problems (dysphagia), their need to consume texture-modified foods, that – for safety reasons – must be puréed, can constitute a problem because of its unappealing look and texture that can lead to food rejection and malnourishment. Much in the same way, texture can have a big impact on people with food aversions.

Food Texture Design by 3D printing: A Review is a recently published excellent introduction document into the background of 3D printed food and specifically how it could be applied to produce tailored foods for specific needs such as foods for the elderly. Advantages and limitations of 3D Printing in the food industry, the material-based printability and model-based texture, and the future trends in 3D Printing, including numerical simulations, incorporation of cooking technology to the printing, and 4D modifications are discussed. Key challenges for the mainstream adoption of 3D Printing are also elaborated on.

To read more about how to apply texture analysis to your 3D printed food developments, request our article

3d printed food article

Texture analysis in plant-based dairy product development

Plant based dairy alternatives – oat, pea, coconut and almond milks

In the nearly 40 years since soy milk was first introduced in the U.S. and Europe, the offerings for plant-based dairy alternatives have expanded significantly to include a wealth of options from nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, grains and root vegetables. In fact, industry experts predict that by 2026, the market for dairy alternative products could reach $41.8 billion growing at a CAGR of 12.2%.

A variety of factors are contributing to the category’s growth, including dairy sensitivity issues, consumer perception that plant-based products are healthier for them, a desire to avoid hormones or antibiotics, and concerns about animal welfare.

However, there is also a future demand issue – world population keeps increasing: in 2050 there will be nearly 10 billion mouths to feed. Our current animal food production system will not suffice. Therefore, food producers, ingredient companies and researchers are on a quest to find sustainable alternatives. Enter plant proteins. Available in abundance, they are often a side or waste-stream of existing food production processes.

Moreover, they can offer additional benefits, tailoring to customer expectations regarding muscle health, improved digestion and weight control.

But while consumers are actively trying to eat more plant-based, or animal and plant protein blended foods (and reduce their meat consumption), they are not willing to compromise on taste and texture. Indeed, customers’ expectations are sky-rocketing: they want something special, and they want it now. And it should be as transparent and sustainable as possible.

The use of alternative proteins offers a perfect solution to a more sustainable food production system. Customers are ready to embrace this trend, but will only do so if taste, texture and health remain uncompromised.

Texture innovation in modern-day dairy

Today’s consumers are looking for greater nutrition, functionality and transparency from their dairy products. At the same time, they expect their yoghurt to be rich and creamy, and their beverages to have an appealing taste and texture. Consumers typically expect smooth, creamy and void of standing moisture, liquid or frozen. They don’t want starchy or gummy lumps in sour cream, protein or mineral sedimentation in drinkable yoghurt, or ice crystals in ice cream.

Visual cues are indicators of product texture, which in turn influences how the product feels in the mouth. When it comes to ingredient replacement in dairy alternatives, it can be especially challenging because they lack milk fat, which typically can give a lot of texture and mouthfeel to dairy-based products. This is why texture has become a focal point during the early stages of product development. Most consumers don’t think about a food’s texture or mouthfeel unless it is inferior. Formulators are tasked to make up for that loss in mouthfeel through the use of texturisers or processing methods can assist with delivering a product that keeps consumers coming back.

As manufacturers work to offer “healthier” versions of many everyday food products with lower sugar content, different fats, and gluten-free ingredients, they may find themselves in a quandary. Some dairy manufacturers such as Danone are using the trend as an opportunity to add to their existing dairy brand.

Recently, Stratus Foods and Qualisoy successfully tackled the challenge of reformulating margarines and shortenings to use U.S.-grown oleic soybean oil for pie crusts and laminated dough applications. “The results were nothing short of amazing,” said Roger Daniels, VP of Research, Development & Innovation at Stratas Foods. “We found that we achieved a new gold standard in performance without partial hydrogenation.”

They used their Texture Analyser as part of this development process which is summarised in this video... 

Understanding the impact on texture, and the potential implications of these texture changes, is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers. So, what can manufacturers do? Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards.

Reformulation has been commonplace over the past few decades as food manufacturers have had to adapt to the changing needs of the consumer be that for health or wellness reasons e.g. fat or salt reduction, gluten-free reasons. Existing products have to be reformulated without the consumer perceiving any loss of taste or textural expectation. To read about some examples of how texture analysis is used in these situations, request our article where you can discover a range of testing options available for texture analysis assessment of foods reformulated to remove fat, salt and sugar.

Request our latest article ‘Testing texture in reformulated food’...

How is the Texture Analyser currently being applied in academic research?

Researchers from University College Cork have been investigating the effects of different ingredients (i.e., plant-based substrate and choice of hydrocolloid) on texture and mouthfeel, assisting with development of next-generation plant-based yogurt systems. Read more

At the University of Guelph (Canada), plant-based cheese prototypes containing zein were prepared and evaluated to assess and compare their melting and stretching capabilities with conventional cheeses. Read more

At Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, they used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure foam strength so that chemical composition, physical and foaming properties of SSE extracts could be compared with those of cow milk and a commercial soy beverage used by professionals. Read more

You may also be interested in the following:

Discover the typical types of tests used in the dairy industry for texture measurement

Request our articles that give an overview of all of the methods available for dairy product testing

Read our Blog posts about Dairy Product Texture Analysis

View published references on research using our instruments for dairy product testing

View patents that refer to our instruments for testing of dairy products

See how Dairy Industry Leaders use Texture Analysis to get ahead of their competition

Dairy customer logos

Applying the Texture Analyser to the Dental Industry in Compression, Flexure and Extrusion

According to Statista, the global dental market is projected to grow to around 37 billion dollars by 2021, and current indicators show that the market will keep moving forward, primarily driven by the implant sector. Its success is due to progress in the fields of medical technologies and implant materials. Texture Analysis has an important role in the dental industry; this article contains some examples of dental research in recent years.

A Texture Analyser is a very useful tool for the research and development associated with dental products and has the capability to perform both imitative and fundamental measurements. Dental product testing solutions from Stable Micro Systems include dental fixative adhesiveness, chewing gum hardness, stickiness and coating crispiness, toothpaste consistency and extrudability, and dental floss tensile strength, as well as many more.

Examples of how Dental Products can be Tested – Friction and Wear:

When ceramic structures are used in the mouth, there is often a risk of wear between teeth and the ceramic part. Scientists from Boston’s University School of Dental Medicine have been researching this effect when different dental ceramic systems are used. Disc shaped specimens were held in resin and they used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser along with a multiple sample vertical friction wear device to perform wear simulation. No differences were found in the linear and volumetric reduction of enamel cusps abraded against enamel disks or ceramic specimens. Read more

Horizontal Friction System on a Texture Analyser
Horizontal Friction System attached to a Texture Analyser

In orthodontics, it is often necessary to reduce tooth structure interproximally to correct for inadequate space caused by dental crowding and in restorative dentistry to trim or contour various types of restorative materials such as amalgam, composite resin or porcelain (dental veneers). Abrasive strips are widely used in modern dentistry. They are usually thin, flexible, one-sided abrasive strips and are available in various sizes and grits. They are moved back and forth between the teeth to shape their sides.

The Abrasion Test Rig (HDP/ATR) was designed at Stable Micro Systems to originally provide a method of assessing the abrasion and/or frictional properties of abrasive strips by measuring the force resulting from the sliding of these strips against a ceramic cylinder during a tensile test on a TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. Exponent software is then employed to analyse the multi-peak force profiles obtained and apply special calculations to highlight differences between different grades and manufacturers of abrasive strips.

Abrasion rig
Assessment of abrasion of dental strips on a Texture Analyser

Examples of how Dental Products can be Tested – Tension:

Flossing is a simple oral hygiene procedure that, when performed daily, can ensure healthy gums and teeth that last a lifetime. Experts say it is as indispensable to a healthy mouth as brushing, yet most people find it uncomfortable and do not do it regularly. Modern dentistry and dental products have begun to address the problem of plaque build-up which causes periodontal disease. For a manufacturer of dental floss wishing to compare the breaking strength of different formulations and compare with competitive samples, a tensile test is a quick and easy method.

For a sample such as dental floss, which is difficult to grip in standard tensile grips due to its smooth surface, Self-Tightening Roller Grips (A/TGT) are ideal. They are spring loaded and cross-hatched to provide the self-tightening mechanism, ensuring the sample stays firmly in place during the test.

Scientists from Witten/Herdecke University (Germany) have been investigating the influence of luting materials on the retention of cemented implant-supported crowns. Oral implant science has numerous topics of interest and evolving thematic trends in clinical studies. Since the 2000s, the focus of dental implantological treatment has been as a biological-driven therapy that recovers and maintains the function, long-term stability and aesthetics of soft and hard peri-implant tissues.

One of the actual topics of interest in the field of biological-driven implant therapy is implant restoration, and this topic induced the development of new methods and luting materials for implant-supported prosthesis retention. After being prepared then artificially stressed, the crowns were vertically removed using a TA.HDplus Texture Analyser. The obtained data showed that sandblasting and recementation of implant-supported cobalt chromium crowns resulted in a reduction of the retention force independent of the luting material. Find out more...

Dental model

Researchers from Jamia Hamdard (India) have been investigating the design and in vitro / in vivo evaluations of a multiple-drug-containing gingiva disc for periodontotherapy. Periodontitis is the commonest and most challenging progressive dental ailment and exhibits a wide spectrum of symptoms such as gingival puffiness, inflammation, bleeding, and detachment of tooth bone often leading to pocket formation of 3-4mm.

This study set out to develop and evaluate a gingiva disc for the simultaneous delivery of multiple drugs to abolish infection, impede inflammation, avert collagen destruction, and promote alveolar bone regeneration. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to determine in vitro bioadhesive force and tensile strength. This customised, non-invasive polymeric gingiva disc was found to be a useful tool to treat acute to moderate stages of periodontitis. Read more

Typical tensile test on a Texture Analyser
Typical tensile test on a Texture Analyser

Examples of how Dental Products can be Tested – Penetration:

Over in Hangzhou, researchers from Zhejiang Gongshang University have been investigating the locking up of food between posterior teeth and its influence on chewing efficiency. Food particles are intra-orally locked up between antagonistic posterior teeth during each chewing cycle, and this can affect the selection of particles for subsequent breakage, hence also affecting chewing efficiency. The two aims of this study were to determine the extent of locking up and to examine the relationship between locking up and chewing efficiency. The researchers used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform penetration tests on sheet bolus samples. Relationships between locking up and chewing efficiency were successfully found. Read more

Typical penetration test on a Texture Analyser
Typical penetration test on a Texture Analyser

Examples of how Dental Products can be Tested – Adhesion:

Around half of all denture wearers use an adhesive to help with both comfort and confidence. In this market, it is important to uphold standards of both texture and adhesive properties. Otherwise, customers will be uncomfortable at best, or if they rely on adhesive for denture retention, face the embarrassment of dentures becoming unattached during the day should the adhesive fail. Stable Micro Systems offer a wide range of testing techniques to assess the performance of denture glues. The best way of testing any adhesive product is to replicate its conditions of use as closely as possible. In all cases, if the adhesive is too strong the consumer will find removal very uncomfortable. Conversely, a weak adhesive is redundant and will not see repeat use.

Powder based adhesives are used by shaking a thin layer of powder onto the interior of the denture and pressing it onto the gum by biting down for a few seconds. Powder adhesive is well-suited to a standard adhesive test using a flat probe onto a flat surface, pulling the probe away from the surface. In this case, the environment must be moist and a range of pressures must be tested to represent the range of biting pressures of the target consumer group, while keeping the hold time constant.If suitable materials are available, a substrate made of a softer gum-like material may be used. The maximum force while withdrawing the probe corresponds to the force necessary to pull the denture directly away from the palate. This is particularly important for consumers who eat sticky foods and find the denture is pulled away during mealtimes. 

Paste adhesives only work well if applied in a thin layer. Consequently, the expulsion of the product from the tube is of high importance. The product must extrude in a controlled way with a force high enough to prevent the paste running out freely, but low enough that an elderly customer can use the product without any help.Finally, adhesive lining strips also face the difficulty of providing an optimum holding force. These are moistened and laid down on the denture surface, again fixed in place by applying pressure in the mouth. 

The Multiple Indexing Plate by Stable Micro Systems offers an excellent testing solution for strip adhesives. This plate allows ten individual adhesive tape tests to be performed on a single sample (or ten smaller samples) using a domical probe. As with the powder test, the moisture level must be kept constant during this test as the adhesive relies on a small amount of water to adhere to the roof of the mouth.

Scientists from the University of Otago (NZ) used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile testing for bond strength determination of porcelain to enamel and dentin. Traditional methods of high-speed rotary cavity preparation have been found to cause additional damage. This study aimed to investigate the effect on bonding of preparations using ultrasonic instruments, rather than rotary, looking at both the bonding strength of enamel and dentin as well as the effect of etching. Ultrasonic preparation was found to produce a greater bond strength than rotary preparation. Read more

Typical Adhesive test on a Texture Analyser
Typical adhesive test on a Texture Analyser

The worldwide effort to push forward standards for the provision of quality oral health care drive a large research effort in both academic and industrial settings. A large component of this research is based around Texture Analysis, ensuring the products used by dentists and consumers every day are the best they can be.

Request our article covering this topic

Texture analysis in the dental industry
Licking lips

Alternative Proteins and their effects on Product Texture
Alternative protein burger

Across the globe, consumers are increasingly looking for non-meat options when buying protein as part of their diet. Meat has been the main source of protein in developed markets for years. However, a change in consumer behaviour has led to a growth in the alternative proteins market due to health concerns, environmental reasons and animal welfare awareness.1 Consequently, producers of animal protein face large risks to their sustainability if they do not join the innovative and fast growing alternative proteins market. Meat alternatives and broader protein alternatives that can act as substitutes for traditional meat products are attracting considerable financial investment.

‘Alternative proteins’ is a general term that covers any substitute to traditional animal protein.2 These protein sources include plant-based protein, fermented protein, algae, cultured meat, 3D printed meat and insects. The texture of traditional meat has always been the most important factor in determining consumer acceptance, and the same is true for alternative protein sources. For a consumer branching out to try a new, unfamiliar protein source, it is vital that its texture is favourable. The following are examples of Texture Analysis in alternative protein research.


Plant-based protein is simply a meaningful food source of protein made from plants. This can include pulses, tofu, soya, tempeh, seitan, nuts, seeds, certain grains and peas. Plant proteins are highly nutritious, containing high fibre, mineral and vitamin contents.

Latest Texture Analysis in Research example:
Physical properties of plant-based cheese products produced with zein

Latest Texture Analysis in Patents example: General Mills:
Nut Butter Composition

Fermented proteins

Fermented proteins are made by exposing plant matter such as rice grains or split peas to bacterial strains. This causes the carbohydrates to break down into smaller molecules, leading to faster digestion in the body. A large proportion of the carbohydrate molecules are removed, leaving behind a high protein content.

Latest Texture Analysis in Research example:
Solid-state fermentation for single-cell protein enrichment of guava and cashew by-products and inclusion on cereal bars


Algae is sustainable, multifunctional and totally natural, found in the majority of ecosystems. As well as protein, its nutritional profile includes vitamins, minerals, fat and fibre. Commercial algae proteins are produced and harvested from both macro and micro-algae.

Latest Texture Analysis in Research examples:
Impact of the soy protein replacement by legumes and algae based proteins on the quality of chicken rotti
Replacement of soy protein with other legumes or algae in turkey breast formulation: Changes in physicochemical and technological properties

Cultured or ‘clean’ meat

Cultured meat products are grown in the laboratory, outside of the animal’s body. They are grown from cells sourced from animal muscle and tissue taken by a biopsy from the animal under anaesthesia.

Latest Texture Analysis in Research example:
Potential of a sunflower seed by-product as animal fat replacer in healthier Frankfurters

3D printed meat

3D printers build objects layer by layer to very precise specifications. In the case of 3D printed meat, the building material is either plant matter or animal cells grown in a lab. 3D printing allows the meat structure to be perfectly tailored, fine tuning it to match the mouthfeel and textural parameters of a real piece of meat. A Texture Analyser is essential for this research process.

Latest Texture Analysis in Research examples:
Customised Shapes for Chicken Meat–Based Products: Feasibility Study on 3D-Printed Nuggets
Feasibility study of hydrocolloid incorporated 3D printed pork as dysphagia food


Insects provide a protein source with a high feed-conversion efficiency rate (an animal's capacity to convert feed into increased body mass). They also require much less water than traditional meat sources such as poultry or cattle. The challenge lies in introducing insect protein into the Western diet. This has to begin with ingredient replacement in existing foods, one example of which is meat products.

Latest Texture Analysis in Research example:
Structure design of insect-based meat analogs with high-moisture extrusion

Worldwide determination to push forward the use of alternative proteins is driving a large research effort in both academic and industrial settings. A large component of this research is based around Texture Analysis, ensuring the alternative protein sources provide products that will be picked up in a competitive market.


1 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/agriculture/our-insights/alternative-proteins-the-race-for-market-share-is-on#
2 https://www.fairr.org/article/alternative-protein-market/

Developing Foods containing Algae

According to Food Technology magazine “It’s relatively ease to predict what consumers will be eating within a few years but what about further ahead? This is the million-dollar question keeping the food and beverage industry on its toes. Will our diets evolve into the realms of science fiction?

"Based on what we know now, food shortages will be a growing issue, so many will be looking to new sources of nutrition. Because of this, experts believe diets will be based on protein-rich insects and nutrient-dense algae, both of which could offer sustainable alternatives to resource-intensive farming.”

We are already seeing the emergence of products containing algae, which is some studies has been shown to contain more calcium, protein, iron, vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. And with many experts predicting algae farming to become the world’s biggest cropping industry, it might not be long before we’re eating and drinking algae in everything from beer and burgers to soups and smoothies.

Algae have actually been used as human food for thousands of years in all parts of the world. The most commonly consumed macroalgae include the red algae Porphyra (nori, kim, laver), Asparagopsis taxiformis (limu), Gracilaria, Chondrus crispus (Irish moss) and Palmaria palmata (dulse), the kelps Laminaria (kombu), Undaria (wakame) and Macrocystis, and the green algae Caulerpa racemosa, Codium and Ulva. These algae are either harvested from wild populations or are farmed, and are usually eaten either fresh, dried or pickled (Abbott, 1988).

Several macroalgae are also the source of hydrocolloids such as agar-agar and carrageenan which are widely used in the food industry as stabilisers, thickeners and gelling agents. The major gel manufacturers such as CP Kelco, Danisco and FMC are already harnessing the power of algae and other gels in their products. To read more about texture analysis solutions in this area, request our article ‘Using novelty gels and films in food product development and edible packaging.

You might also be interested to See Patents and other References to Gel and Film Product Texture Analysis or Read our Blog posts about Gel and Film Product Texture Analysis.

And for some inspiration on magical mouthfeel manipulation tricks that developers can use to create and maintain perfect and texturally sensational products using gels, request our article ‘How to perform textural magic’

With a soaring population, changing demographics, urbanisation and growing environmental concerns food manufacturers always on the lookout for the next big trend or imagining how global changes will impact our diets, need to start looking at algae and how to incorporate it in the food products of the future.

Any existing popular product will have a preconceived consumer expectation in terms of taste and texture. It is the challenge of the food development technologists to introduce new ingredients into well-known food without creating a negative impact. Unless new ingredients are intended to present new taste and texture sensations that wow the senses and produce creative experiences, more likely the introduction of algae as a future popular ingredient will need to ease in gently and almost come under the experience radar.

Whilst the consumer may happily choose the new product containing algae as a health and wellness choice, they may be less willing to accept a strange taste or texture – key to the success of brand loyalty and repeat purchase.

Foods containing algae

Texture Analysis: A tool to help the development of new food products from byproducts
Linear/circular economy diagram

In a linear economy we ‘take’ raw materials from the environment, ‘make’ something, ‘use’ or don’t use it, and finally ‘dispose’ of it. For example: in a supermarket, food that is still good but needs to be removed from shelves – often due to inventory or overstock reasons – typically heads to the landfill. We need to adopt a new approach to avoid this wasteful situation that challenges economies across the globe. 

A circular approach – reuse, recycle, remake, redistribute – aims to ensure zero food waste in the food chain. Aside from the waste associated with retailers and consumers there is a growing interest in the potential use of food manufacture by-products and how they can be reintroduced into the manufacture of new products. This would not only reduces waste but also provides a nutrient recycling opportunity and establishes a more efficient and sustainable food supply chain.

We have all heard the saying ‘One man’s waste is another man’s treasure’. With today’s environmental issues how incredible would it be if we could convert the waste material produced by the manufacture of one material in order to use it as an ingredient in another. What is useless to one company/product is potentially valuable to another. If food chains could realise the cost-saving incentive to map food waste scenarios and create by-product synergies with appropriate technologies, these circular strategies would redirect food waste issues into a valuable resource. Food waste could be redirected to generate renewable energy, enhance the soil as a fertiliser and feed animals, or better still create new food products.

Of course, the challenge is to replace ordinary ingredients with repurposed materials without the consumer noticing textural differences. This is where texture analysis is the perfect tool to assess the effect of any textural change in the reformulation. There are leaders in the field who are actively finding ways to repurpose food waste materials – here are just a selection who are using texture analysis as a tool to measure the results of their product developments:

Reuse of spent espresso coffee to create novel enriched muffins

Scientists at the  University of Foggia, (Italy) have realised that to discover and to use a sustainable source of nutrients and functional compounds is an urgent problem to tackle for modern societies. They have utilised the spent espresso coffee grounds to replace mass fractions of 15% and 30% of wheat flour in a muffin formulation and, among other tests, they have analysed the changes in texture using their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser and sensory properties. The volume of the enriched muffins didn't change significantly and the gain of dietary fibre covered the 12–20% of the recommended daily intake and allowed meeting the EU claim of ‘high in fibre’. Sensory properties were scored greater than 3.5 in a scale of 5, proving that the grains could be used as ingredients for a more sustainable food sector. Read more

Reuse of blackcurrant pomace to elaborate cakes

Similarly, researchers at the  Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain) have taken blackcurrant pomace (which is a by-product with bioactive compounds and dietary fibre) and used it to elaborate bakery products such as cakes. As the pomace has a high fibre content it has the potential to result in techno-functional problems affecting texture and sensory properties. Different leavening agents (citric acid, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and glucono-δ-lactone) were used in combination with sodium bicarbonate and the texture, colour and sensory profile were studied in a micro-baking simulation to see the expansion of the bubbles in the batter.

Texture profile analysis results using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser revealed that pyrophosphate and glucono-δ-lactone incorporated more air, which led to bigger gas cells and a softer texture although all formulations were acceptable according to a sensory panel which highlights the potential to include byproduct that add a benefit at little or no cost with small formulation adjustments to accommodate the inclusion without negative impact on the consumer. Read more

Reuse of frozen vegetable production waste into vegetable bars

At Warsaw University of Life Sciences, scientists their aim was to take the residual waste arising from the production of frozen vegetables to form a vegetable bar. They have been researching the production of innovative freeze-dried vegetable snacks with hydrocolloids, in terms of the technological process and carbon footprint calculation. The study has involved six recipes of vegetable gels to combine them into three-layer snacks. Hydrocolloid bars were freeze-dried to create a porous structure. 

Two hydrocolloid systems were analysed: sodium alginate with calcium lactate and the mixture of locust bean gum with xanthan gum. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to perform compression tests on snack samples. The carbon footprint for the production of each freeze-dried vegetables bar was calculated. The type of hydrocolloid has been mainly shown to have a significant impact on the on the physical properties and footprint of investigated snacks. Find out more...

Reuse orange juice by-products for cookie production

Researchers from the University of São Paulo have been investigating orange juice by-products in the food industry as a functional ingredient, with application in a circular economy. The objective of this study was to produce a flour from orange juice by-product, characterise it, and then apply this flour to produce cookies. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure cookie hardness in compression. The hardness of cookies was found to increase significantly with higher concentrations of orange by-product flour. Orange by-product flour showed interesting characteristics, suggesting its possible use in the development of fibre-enriched foods such as cookies. Its production represents a key strategy for the orange juice processing industries towards the application of a circular economy in the food system. Find out more...

By 2030 we will need two planets to meet the world’s demands and by 2050, three planets! It’s time to act. Finding solutions to provide nutritious food to nearly 10 billion people by 2050 without destroying our planet is one of the greatest challenges of our generation – and what better way than to intelligently repurpose our waste materials.

For more on how Stable Micro Systems' instruments are helping face these challenges, request our article 'How Texture Analysis is helping save our Planet'.

Food product design serving Generation Z 

In the immediate future, it’s time for Millenials to move over. Generation Z is coming of age and is set to become the purchasing powerhouse of the global economy. Research has shown that Generation Zers (typically born after 1995) to be more health conscious, more open minded and more international in their habits compared to Millenials, meaning we can expect some significant changes in the years ahead.

Generation Z has the potential to reset expectations for health and wellness, increase the reach of international cuisine, and heighten creativity in the kitchen. This means food manufacturers should be looking to produce more healthy formulations based on fruits and vegetables, more internationally diverse ingredients and flavours, as well as more interactive products enabling creative experiences. This is where texture will play a large part in creating those culinary experiences and where texture analysis is equipped to test and measure the result of food manufacturers' new creations.

If you haven’t already realised, a Texture Analyser can have an Acoustic Envelope Detector attached for the measurement of sound alongside your usual texture analysis testing. This will help you measure those exciting textural properties such as crispness, brittleness and fracturability. To find out more about creating and controlling your product’s sound signature, request our article ‘Measuring Snap, Crackle and Pop’.

Reformulation has been commonplace over the past few decades as food manufacturers have had to adapt to the changing needs of the consumer be that for health or wellness reasons e.g. fat or salt reduction, gluten-free reasons. Existing products have to be reformulated without the consumer perceiving any loss of taste or textural expectation. To read about some examples of how texture analysis is used in these situations, request our article ‘Testing texture in reformulated food’.

And for some inspiration on magical mouthfeel manipulation tricks that developers can use to create and maintain perfect and texturally sensational products, request our article ‘It’s time to perform textural magic!’

Ice cream girls

Texture Analysis & Flowability of Coffee: Instant, Ground and Bean
Coffee capsules

Coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. According to Statista, revenue in the coffee market worldwide in 2020 amounts to USD 44.8 billion, and is expected to rise by 5% each year up to 2025. It reaches the consumer in many different forms, from a creamy latte in a hipster coffee shop to a more basic instant. The three main forms that reach the supermarket shelf, however, are whole beans, ground and instant granules. This blog post covers the Texture Analysis techniques used by manufacturers in search of a perfect brew.


Instant coffee comes in both granular and powdered forms. Although the flavour will never quite match that of a traditional coffee, it has some distinct advantages. Compared to beans and ground, it is quick and clean to prepare (no grounds to clear up), has a reduced shipping weight and volume and a long shelf life.

Physical characteristics of instant coffee that are pleasing to the consumer are fast solubility, high flowability (no clumps in the jar) and low caking potential (it does not pack into the bottom of its container). It is also important that granules hold their shape in transit, as a jar with broken granules and dust will be perceived as low quality.

Consumer demands for healthy, functional foods are growing rapidly nowadays. Coffee represents an interesting aspect for enrichment, since it is consumed by millions of people on a daily basis. A study published at the University of Zagreb on this topic was based on this idea. The aim of this study was to formulate enriched instant coffee powders with the purpose of estimating the influence of storage time, functional ingredients and packaging material on physical and sensory properties of the mixtures.

Using their Powder Flow Analyser, researchers were able to establish that a change in packaging materials had a significant effect on the cohesion of the coffee. This will have a detrimental effect on usability for the consumer and ultimately affect product satisfaction and repeat purchase.

The Powder Flow Analyser can be used to measure caking and speed flow dependency properties of instant coffee, too. The Powder Flow Analyser is an instrument welcomed by all sectors of the food industry, as it allows accurate and objective testing of ingredients, blends and finished products. It helps manufacturers to avoid typical problems such as batch and source variation of ingredients, caking during storage, bridging in hoppers and sticking during production.

Powder Flow Analyser
Powder Flow Analyser

New methods for producing instant coffee formulations are constantly being researched. In a patent released by Symrise , a new method was specified for creating spray dried agglomerations with a larger particle size and no dust, which are stable and able to hold active ingredients and flavourings. Instant coffee was specified as an example for this method, and a Powder Flow Analyser used to measure flowability on a scale defined by the author.

In a variation from testing instant coffee alone, a research group in Croatia used their Powder Flow Analyser to measure the physical properties of cappuccino powder during storage. In cappuccino powder, coffee powder is mixed with sugar, milk powder and different emulsifiers and anti-caking agents. In this study, samples were stored for 4 months, with powder flow analysis carried out each month. A positive correlation was determined between cohesion index and cake strength - a rise in the cohesion index also caused a rise in cake strength.

Researchers from Washington State University used a different approach to measure the properties of instant coffee. Compression tests have been proven not only to be useful tools in characterising attrition, but also excellent descriptors for powder flowability. The purpose of this work was to study the effects of particle size and water activity on the compression characteristics of agglomerated food powders, including instant coffee. Each sample was placed in a cylindrical compression cell and compressed using a TA.XT2 Texture Analyser and cylindrical probe. Particle size was found to play a significant role in compression tests in that the greater the particle size, the greater the volume reduction. It was easier to compress the low water activity samples, but in all tests changing water activity did not significantly affect compression characteristics.


In order to prepare coffee beverages, desirable components of roasted coffee beans are extracted and dispersed into water. Therefore, for controlled extraction and dispersion, the size reduction of roasted beans is of great importance. If ground coffee is too fine, this could decrease extraction, yielding a low volume of a bitter, over-extracted coffee due to insufficient wetting and agglomeration of particles. Conversely, if the coffee grinds are too coarse, it could also reduce extraction, which yields under-extracted coffee because the volume specific surface would be too small to retain water and allow coffee compounds emulsification and solubilisation.

A study released by Erciyes University focussed on the flow properties of powdered coffees regarding their roasting degree (light and dark roasted) and particle sizes.

Since caking of particle-based foods is highly undesirable due to the stoppage problems during the filling operation in process, and when it reaches the customer, determination of the flow properties of coffee were very important to this study, and the factors affecting the flow properties were considered in detail. They used their Powder Flow Analyser to characterise the flow behaviour of their coffee samples, gathering cohesion, caking and powder flow speed dependency (PFSD) data. Results indicated that caking was not the case for medium and coarse coffee samples, yet fine ground samples were prone to caking. Among the samples, only light coffee with a larger particle size was flow stable.


Roasting is probably the most important step in coffee processing, causing marked chemical, physical, structural and sensorial changes. During this process, coffee beans are held at temperatures as high as 240°C for different times, depending on the desired characteristics of the final product. Roasting conditions directly affect the textural properties of the bean. During roasting, they lose strength and toughness and become crumblier and more brittle. A certain degree of brittleness is necessary for the grinding process. However, the uniformity of ground coffee partly depends on the bean’s brittleness, affecting the extraction of soluble solids in the final brew.

A study carried out at the University of Udine investigated this effect.

The aim of this paper is to evaluate the factors—such as density and moisture—affecting the mechanical properties of coffee beans roasted at 170, 200°C and under so-called high yield conditions. To distinguish the effects due to roasting (where both density and moisture changes occur) from those due to the water removal alone, heat treatments on coffee bean samples at dehydration temperatures (90–105°C) were also carried out.

Individual beans were tested under compression, and breaking force, strain at fracture and work to fracture measured from the force-distance graph. Results showed that the typical brittleness of roasted and high yield coffee beans was related to water loss, the change of tissue structure and to the decrease of density.

Review the typical types of tests used for powder flow measurement.

Alternatively, request our article that gives an overview of all of these methods for powder flow analysis.

Testing the integrity of packaging seals – Is Your Seal Satisfactory?

When a food product is wrapped, the package’s overall integrity, particularly of the seal area, is crucial to avoid contamination and resultant spoilage or safety issues. The role of a packaging seal varies between products, and the importance of several factors will have different weights depending on its use. Some require excellent mechanical strength or a perfect airtight seal, whereas some must be easy to open.

A good seal protects the product inside. It is critical for food safety reasons, and to maintain quality. ‘Seal integrity’ is a property tested regularly by packaging manufacturers, but particularly when a package design is adapted to suit lower budget materials, sustainable material alternatives, or when sealing conditions are altered on the production line. Additionally, this is important when distribution methods change (such as by introducing online shopping) or when a new product is introduced onto the market. When any of these factors are altered, it is important to check that seals are still sufficiently robust.

The smallest breaks in a food package seal will allow the admission of bacteria, whereas larger breaks can admit contaminated fluids or airborne contaminants.

The main measurements performed to assess a seal are of its strength and of its tendency to leak over a product’s shelf life. It is vital to know how seal strength varies over time, or at different stages in the distribution process. Campden BRI   presented some interesting points in a recent newsletter, that will be of use to manufacturers looking to perform package seal tests:

•    Not all test methods are relevant for different packs

•    Different test methods have different sensitivities for finding leaks in packs

•    Increased temperature during sealing does not always produce a stronger seal

•    Different test methods will give different seal strength results

•    There is a lot of variability between seal strength amongst different materials

Seal Measurement Methods

There are many ways a manufacturer may choose to measure the integrity of their packaging seals. They are a standard part of the process for HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), food safety and hygiene testing and quality control procedures. When there is a change in the production procedure for any reason (e.g. new staff, new sealing equipment or a new batch of raw materials), it is advisable for quality control testing to be increased.

Some distribution methods put a greater stress on packaging. In particular, a product bought from an online shop is likely to go on a longer journey than one bought in a supermarket. It will be transported from the manufacturer to a distribution centre and to the online distributor, often loose in a large shipping crate. Following this, they are packaged in smaller boxes and shipped in crates with other products, onto other distribution centres, retailers and finally the customer. This is only one example of a distribution process that can add unpredictable stresses to food packaging, particularly in the stress concentration around its seals.

Road tests, both simulated and real, can be used to mimic the stresses a product may be subjected to. Seal integrity tests are carried out both before and after. Tests may be destructive or non-destructive, and they aim to make sure packages are intact after the stresses of shipping and consumer handling over the product’s life, and under different environmental conditions.

There are standards for different food distribution methods, particularly when food moves under extreme conditions. Packaging in these cases has to pass specific tests.

Most standards that put the seals, in particular, under scrutiny are based on the principle of leak detection. For example, in the bubble emission test (ASTM D3078 – 02) a submerged package is put under vacuum, and a leak will be shown by the appearance of bubbles. In the dye penetration test (ASTM F3039 – 15), dye is applied to one side of a seal. If there is a leak, it will migrate through the opening. The ultrasonic seal test (ASTM E1002 – 11) is used as a rapid assessment before investigating leaks in more detail. The gas leak test (ASTM F2391 – 05) is for entirely sealed samples – a mass spectrophotometer is used to measure the migration of gas from inside the package to the environment. Lastly, the vacuum decay test (ASTM F2338 – 09) shows a reduction in vacuum pressure when a sample package is put under vacuum and a leak is present.

A method to put the whole seal to the test mechanically is the ‘burst test’. This works by applying pressure internally to the package until it bursts, and the location of failure is recorded. This allows the manufacturer to ensure the package can meet a minimum force without failing, and to determine its weakest point. There are several burst types that can be carried out per the ASTM standards (ASTM F1140, ASTM F2054) including dynamic/static burst, creep test, and creep to fail. These burst tests can be carried out either on open or closed packages, using either unrestrained or restrained methods.

The Use of a Texture Analyser in Seal Testing

However, standard methods also exist that use mechanical testing on the seal itself, and a TA.XTplus or TA.HDplus Texture Analyser is ideal for performing these tests. The method most frequently used is the seal strength test (ASTM F88/F88M – 15) – the ‘Standard Test Method for Seal Strength of Flexible Barrier Materials’. In this test, each side of a one-inch section of the packaging seal is placed into a pair of tensile grips. The grips are moved apart at a set speed, and the seal strength is defined as the maximum force reached before the seal fails. This technique is useful for products that are made up of both flexible and rigid films, for example a yoghurt lid and pot.

It is important that the section used in the test is representative of the whole seal, and that repeats are carried out. Compliant or ductile packaging materials are not suitable for this test, as they lead to a large strain at low stress, underestimating seal strength.

For packages that contain a product stored in an atmosphere of gas, such as crisps, a compression test on the whole package may be used, by means of a large compression platen. This is very similar to the burst test, as the failure force and weakest point are both determined. This helps the manufacturer to determine the package’s resilience while being stacked in a large crate during shipping.

Universal Peel Rig
Universal Peel Rig

For an imitative test that gives the actual force required for a user to peel the lid off a package, the Universal Peel Rig may be used. This consists of a multi-position platform which is adjustable to allow the container to be held at 0, 45 and 90 degrees. The platform is screwed securely into position on the base of the Texture Analyser, to suit the container. An adjustable rubber strap accommodates different sized containers and multiple shapes. When attached to the peel tab of the container, a low profile peel clip and post maximise the peel length for use on a standard height Texture Analyser.

To explore the wide range of materials and packaging test methods we can offer, contact Stable Micro Systems today. There is a Texture Analysis test for virtually any physical property. Contact Stable Micro Systems today to learn more about our full range of solutions.

To review the typical types of tests used in the packaging industry for physical property measurement, visit our Packaging Product testing page.

Alternatively, request our articles that give an overview of all of these methods for packaging testing.

Various packaging

Keeping Breakfast Cereals Crispy
Woman eating cereal

Snacking is now an integral part of North American and British culture and is becoming an increasingly apparent trend in many other international markets.

In Germany, where cereals face stiff competition from traditional breakfast foods, the emphasis is shifting towards the promotion of cereals as a quick pick-me-up, as meals become lighter and less stodgy. In the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy and France, where a late evening meal is the cultural norm, cereals are being promoted as a substantial after-school snack for children.

In this competitive market, companies are battling for market share and constantly looking at new product introductions and improvements to traditional favourites. New product introductions may target specific segments of consumers – young and old – or ride on current trends, whether its health consciousness, the latest action figure or some other ingredient or formulation improvement that will gain interest by its promotion.

Breakfast cereals, like many other snack products, are also manufactured as crisp products which must be kept in that form for the maximum enjoyment of the consumers. However, they are different in their structural form due to the manner in which they are consumed. In the traditional method, the breakfast cereals are mixed with milk and are consumed over a period of a few minutes. The diffusion of water into the structure causes a softening of the crisp texture, but if this occurs too quickly the breakfast cereal becomes soft and loses its appeal.

Ottawa Cell bulk compression test
A bulk compression test on breakfast cereal pieces using an Ottawa Cell

Measuring Cereal Crispness

Breakfast cereals, such as cornflakes, represent a remarkably non-uniform configuration from piece to piece (flake to flake) and therefore the testing of one flake at a time is often meaningless. Fracture itself represents a very difficult characteristic to measure due to the fact that a fracture event never occurs the same a second time. A convenient physical test is to compress a population of cereal flakes constrained within a container such as the Ottawa cell which attaches to a TA.HDplus or TA.XTplus Texture Analyser.

In such a test, the multi-peak jagged curves obtained will result from the fracture of a number of flakes/pieces, each peak corresponding to the rupture of a single flake/piece. This is different from the situation where a single piece of highly expanded extrudate is being compressed. However, it offers an averaging effect test of a more representative portion of the sample which is much more repeatable. The multi peak curves obtained may then be analysed using special calculations.

Ottawa Cell bulk compression test
Typical curve of a bulk compression test of a breakfast cereal/potato crisp portion

Use of total peak number (“jaggedness”) and calculated compression curve length comparisons, from commencement of compression to maximum compression distance, are assessed as instrumental parameters of crispness. The results have been related to perceived crispness and hardness measured by a small panel employing a magnitude estimation technique.

Bowl Life Determination

Of particular industrial interest is the change in “crispness” as a product hydrates. Breakfast cereals are prone to staling over time and become soggy if left in liquid for too long. A Bowl Life test aims to provide manufacturers with a method of measuring crispiness, which is a good indicator of the cereal freshness.

In an Ottawa Cell, flakes are compressed with a flat plunger. The Cell is unique as it has a watertight base, allowing the immersion of the cereal in a liquid, which can then be drained to allow testing to begin immediately. This procedure reduces the likelihood of results being affected by sample disturbance and a delay in the commencement of the test due to sample transfer. As compression proceeds fracturing can be observed as a series of force peaks. The maximum force value is considered to be an indication of the overall 'hardness' of the sample and the linear distance is considered as an indication of 'crispness'. The greater the linear distance, the crisper the product.

Ottawa Cell bulk compression test graphs
Above left: These curves were produced from 30g samples A, B and C (Immersion Time = 0s)
Above right: Typical curves showing comparison of cornflake compression tests after 0 / 40 / 180 secs immersion in milk 

The results above show a trend; the longer the immersion time, the softer and less crispy the sample becomes. (It is recommended that data normalisation is applied with reference to the dry material.)

Additional Special Multi-peak Curve Calculations in Exponent

Exponent software is unique in its offering of many special calculations which are of interest in the analysis of multi-peak jagged curves such as those produced from snack food and breakfast cereal testing.

Force time curve section showing best fit function
Typical force-time curve displaying a zoomed section of curve to which the curve best fit function has been applied

Special calculations include the ability to measure parameters such as: Drop Off; Linear Distance; Curve Best Fit; Dispersion; Average Gradient; and Smooth Line.

The above are all calculated from a single click movement and take less than a second to produce results which are automatically dropped into a spreadsheet making the analysis of crispness quick and simple.

Request our article The Sound of Quality for Food which looks at developments in the field of food acoustics

The importance of texture analysis for 3D printed foods 

3D printing is becoming mainstream as a design and manufacture tool in many industries. One of these is the food industry, where innovation is a key marketing strategy; consumers will buy into products that have a new spin on ‘fun’ or ‘healthy’. It is a very useful tool in the food industry, bringing digital design to life through the medium of an edible product and allowing full customisation.

Using this tool, a food product or a whole meal can have its ingredients tailored to meet the needs of a patient in hospital or a care home, leading to a better recovery. 3D printing also has the potential to make life easier for those people who use health trackers. There is a possibility that in the future, the user’s fitness tracker can send data to the 3D printer, which will output a meal perfectly tailored to that person’s requirements.

For those with environmental concerns, this method might be appealing as it can use up food that is otherwise destined to be thrown away. This food might not be attractive enough for sale, such as the ugly leftovers from the production process. However, it can be formed into a more appetising shape with the help of 3D printing.

Many people are trying to reduce their meat intake, and this is often for reasons of environmental concern too. 3D printing can help in this area, as it has the ability to use alternative protein sources such as insects. There is a reluctance to eat insects in the West, which is unfortunate as they contain an excellent source of protein and are more environmentally friendly than meat, producing less methane and consuming less water. 3D printing allows insect protein to be reformed into a more appealing shape.

For the consumers who avoid meat for animal welfare reasons, there are companies researching meat that has had its whole structure 3D printed from plant based materials. A common drawback of plant based meat substitutes is that their texture is not close enough to the real thing. However, 3D printing allows structure to be perfectly tailored, fine tuning it to match the mouthfeel and textural parameters of a real piece of meat. And for that type of research, a Texture Analyser is essential. The same concept applies to every 3D printed product type: although food has been reformed into a novel shape, its texture must remain appealing. The following studies have recently been published on the topic.

Scientists from the State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology, Jiangnan, have been researching the 3D printing precision and texture properties of brown rice induced by infill levels and printing variables. Three-dimensional printing is an emerging technology that can be applied to processing of a wide range of food products.

The aim of this paper was to assess the printability of brown rice and evaluate the effects of the three variables – nozzle size, perimeters and infill densities – on the quality attributes of 3D printed samples. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to perform TPA on cylindrical samples. The texture properties (hardness and gumminess) were strongly related to infill density, followed by perimeters and nozzle size, while the nozzle size was thought to not only change the void rate, but also change the number of layers deposited which indirectly affected the texture characteristics. Besides, the printing time can be reduced a lot due to the decrease of void rate, which suggests a good way to improve the efficiency of printing and reduce the hardness through creating internal structure. Read more

The same research group has been investigating the texture modification of a 3D printed air-fried potato snack by varying its internal structure with the potential to reduce oil content. Consumers often look for lower fat alternatives to traditional food products, and alternatives such as the product described in this study are very valuable. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to perform cutting tests on 3D printed samples. The results suggested that the textural properties of the air-fried 3D printed potato snack could be modified by altering its internal structure, possibly offering a new way of oil reduction for potato-based snacks by creating customized internal structure by applying 3D printing. Read more

Meanwhile, in India, researchers from the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology have been investigating 3D printing of egg yolk and white with rice flour blends. 3D printing is an emerging technique for customised fabrication of food. A well-optimised formulation can also be useful for delivering macro and micro nutrients, and eggs are packed with nutrients as well as having functional properties. This study compares the printability of egg yolk and egg white with blends of rice flour, focussing on the optimisation of extrusion printing parameters. They used their TA.HDplus Texture Analyser to perform Texture Profile Analysis on samples of the mixture. The study found that yolk and white are not printable in their natural form, but are made suitable with the addition of rice flour. Read more

Request our article Texture Analysis: Its Importance for 3D Printed Food Development which details texture analysis applications relevant to this field of work.

3D printer head

Food texture’s influence on “feeling fuller for longer”
Apple with teeth!

A new meta-analysis emphasises the need for the next generation of “health conscious” products to focus on food texture to enhance the feeling of being full. Food texture is often an underestimated element in food design and processing. Now, a team of interdisciplinary researchers at University of Leeds, funded by Horizon 2020 European Research Council (ERC) Project LubSat, have undertaken the first systematic review and meta-analyses on effects of food texture – its form, viscosity, structural complexity- on satiety, which refers to the feeling of being “fuller for longer”.

Their findings, published today in Scientific Reports, reveals that both solid and higher viscous food significantly reduce hunger and promote satiety when compared to liquid and low viscous food. This study highlights that a focus on food texture and the development of satiety-enhancing food can be a promising strategy to reduce food intake and encourage weight management.

Principal Investigator and corresponding author, Dr Anwesha Sarkar an Associate Professor in Food Colloids at Leeds, said: “There is a significant need for more research in this field. Addressing food texture alone is not the ‘holy grail’ in tackling the world's obesity problem, but it can definitely make a positive contribution overall and will have a potentially large effect on weight management for some people.”

Read the full paper: Food texture influences on satiety: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Scientists are exploring food crunchiness as a tool to fight obesity

Crunch. Squish. Snap. Slurp. The textures and aromas of our foods trigger reactions in our brains that control how full we feel. As scientists continue to learn just how, some are seeking to figure out if food textures also play a role in how much we eat. There might be a reason, beyond taste, to explain why a person is inclined to inhale an entire bag of potato chips, or devour a whole plate of cookies.

Even more important, the knowledge could be put to good use. To better understand how a crunchy sensation affects how we eat, a team of researchers from the University of Otago and the Riddet Institute in New Zealand decided to focus their work on potato chips using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser. Their findings were published in the journal Foods recently.

The work might seem trivial, but behind the science are much bigger questions about how to best combat certain health issues. The World Health Organization says globally obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, it estimated that more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, with more than 650 million of them regarded as obese.

Previous research has shown that a person’s sensory experience – such as taste and smell – while eating food can play an important role in how full they feel. In 2009, researchers at Wageningen University found that viscous yoghurt was perceived as more satiating than its thinner counterpart. Another study, published in 2007, found the same result when comparing chocolate milk to chocolate custard. Another study by a team of researchers at Nestlé, published in 2013, found that some people ate more when they were given soft-textured mashed food than with harder-textured food.

Find out what this research discovered here

Overweight gentleman with bowl of crisps

Edible Films
Delicacy using edible film

Edible films – are they just an alternative to plastic wrap, a pretty coating for almonds? Or do they offer far wider scope for food manufacturers to offer exciting new products that stand up to the rigours of global transportation and deliver an acceptable shelf life?

Edible films are not a new phenomenon; many of us are familiar with leaf gelatin, rice paper, and breath strips. But perhaps less well appreciated are the edible films that can be used as surface coatings to improve durability, enhance appearance, prevent moisture transfer or control the diffusion of preservatives from the exterior into the foodstuff. They can also be used to carry active food grade additives or functional ingredients to contribute towards the stability and nutritional value of a food.

What is Edible Film?

Edible ‘packaging’ has now definitely entered the playing field and is available for purchase online. According to the Molecular Recipes store, Edible Film is made from potato starch and soy lecithin. It has a neutral flavour, is paper-thin and although it’s clear and dissolves almost instantly in water-based environments, it does NOT dissolve in oil or in bases that have low water content.

It holds both liquid and solid ingredients. It can be filled with a wide variety of ingredients such as crèmes, flavoured oils, honey, Nutella, fresh fruit and vegetables, fried fish, meat and many other ingredients with low water content. It can be cut into any shape with regular scissors to obtain any desired shape or layered to add durability or crunch. It seals simply with a heat sealer!

Some of the greatest chefs in the world are already using it as a platform for showcasing ingredients in a tortilla-like or taco shell-like manner and even a mini edible bouquet cone! Disappearing transparent raviolis (an edible film creation), for example, are made with round ultra-thin and transparent edible film discs made of potato starch and soy lecithin that instantly dissolve as they come into contact with water. However, the discs do not dissolve when in contact with oil or liquid ingredients with low water content. Their neutral flavour makes them ideal for any type of savoury or sweet preparation.

These films offer new opportunities in creativity and as a great vehicle for showcasing crèmes, honey, dried fruits, oil suspensions and just about any other oil-based or dry ingredient that you’d like to present in clear melt-in-the-mouth packaging. So if you’re looking to create beautiful disappearing ravioli, clear canapés and edible cocktails then you’re going to love working with edible film.

A favourite product of such great modernist chefs as Ferran Adria, these durable yet ultra-thin films are so versatile that food technologists will want to spend time just finding new ways to use them. There are however a wide range of edible films now available depending upon the application: protein-based, polysaccharide gum-based, lipid-based, starch-based etc.

Request our in-depth article

Water Resistance vs. Viscosity and Texture of Haircare Formulas

Water resistance is a desirable property across a wide range of product categories; from leave-on hair products and decorative cosmetics, to sunscreens and skincare. This virtue can be achieved using one or more formulation approaches; a high concentration of non-polar emollients, specific combinations of waxes and resins, latex-based water-dispersible polymers, specific combinations of emulsifiers, and oil and water-soluble film-forming polymers. Currently, there is no globally accepted in vitro water resistance test method in any cosmetic category but the International Organisation for Standardisation is setting up a Technical Committee to develop such a method.

See how texture analysis is playing a part in this methodology

In connection to this article, while emulsifier systems and film-forming polymers may provide water resistance in emulsions, they also are known to change the rheology profiles of semisolid systems; just how much is what Beverley Madlin and co-researchers at the London College of Fashion sought to determine.

In this interview, recorded during the 2019 IFSCC Congress in Milan, Madlin explained what the researchers observed – including a "lesson learned" for what not to do. Watch this video to learn more

To review the typical types of tests used in the hair and hair product industry for texture measurement visit our Hair and Hair Product testing page

Alternatively request our articles that gives an overview of all of these methods for hair and hair product testing

See how haircare industry leaders use texture analysis to get ahead of their competition

Girl spraying product on hair

NEW Textural Characteristics of World Foods book
Testing tape using the Peel Test Rig'

The value of the world market for self-adhesive tapes is set to expand at an annual pace of around 6.3% over the next few years, reaching $69 billion by 2022. Opportunities abound across an array of industries, from packaging and non-residential construction to electronics manufacturing.

Proven high performance will allow adhesive tapes to continue to compete against other joining, bonding and sealing technologies. However, as pressure on quality control departments steps up, it is essential to be able to assess accurately adhesive properties and strength to determine the ideal components for a particular tape and so optimise its performance.

Request our newly revised article 'Measuring the Stickiness of Adhesive Tapes’ which outlines some of the methods now used to put tapes through their paces.

In the research world, scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences have been researching new adhesive materials based on silicon-substituted polynorbornenes. Adhesives are widely used in many areas of everyday life and industry and modern adhesives have been created to work under challenging conditions. However, new formulations are always being studied. In this paper, polynorbornenes, a class of polymers, were investigated for use in a pressure-sensitive adhesive. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tack tests on adhesive specimens. Pressure-sensitive adhesives were successfully formulated. Read more

At the same institute they have been also been investigating pressure sensitive adhesives with tunable tackiness. Pressure sensitive adhesives are valuable to many industries. They do not require heating to form a strong bond. This study looks into the adhesive properties of various polymer-based adhesives, focussing on poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) and poly(vinyl caprolactam), which retain phase-separation ability in the presence of water at elevated temperatures, making it possible to obtain adhesives that reversibly lose stickiness when heated. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tack tests and peel tests on adhesive samples. The switching temperature of the adhesives was found to depend on their water content. However, adhesion was found to decrease near the lower critical solution temperature in dry compositions. Read more

In the patent field, a number of patents have recently been published which use the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser as part of the claims substantiation and physical assessment of inventions. Companies such as Dynasol Elastomeros, Karl Liebinger Medezintechnik GmbH & Co., Proctor & Gamble. View patents

To review the typical types of tests used in the adhesives industry for texture measurement visit our Adhesives Testing page.

Alternatively request our articles that gives an overview of all of these methods for materials and adhesives testing.

Food on the go

According to Kantar Worldpanel, the food-to-go market as a whole rose to be worth £25bn in the year preceding September 2018, and food manufacturers have kept up with rising demand with a stream of innovation that fits into busy, on-the-go schedules. Products are easy to carry around and made simple to eat in single servings, often with forks, spoons or chopsticks included in the packaging. This trend has arrived at the same time as an eco-friendlier generation, with increased interest in plant-based food and dislike of single-use plastics, so products with a high meat content and traditional plastic containers will likely be snubbed in the supermarket.

The testing process subjected to ‘on the go’ products must also put their packaging on trial to ensure it will survive traditional transport methods as well as being pleasant to use.

Popcorn is a key example of a food that is eaten while on the move, having seen a rise in popularity since 2010. Unlike simple sweet and salted cinema popcorn of the 1990s, it is now available in every flavour from sherbet to cheddar. Consumers expect a crispy product and the packaging is key to maintaining this. Weak seals will allow moist air to diffuse through to the product, which will cause softening and an unhappy customer. Seal strength is a simple property to measure using a Texture Analyser. A section of the bag’s ribbed seal, of constant dimension, is pulled apart using tensile grips.

The popcorn itself is best measured in bulk, due to the large variation in sample geometry, and the Triple Ring Cutting System is ideal for this purpose. The test head contains three concentric, sharp rings which provide a large cutting surface area in a relatively small device, allowing for a single layer of sample to be tested.

Mini Tensile Grips; Triple Ring Cutting System; Ring Pull Rig
Mini Tensile Grips; Triple Ring Cutting System; Ring Pull Rig

A can of fizzy drink is the most obvious choice of a single drink serving. Cans made by top manufacturers are fine tuned to break at a very specific force and give off a characteristic ‘crack and fizz’ sound. The Ring Pull Rig can be used along with both audio and visual measurements (with the Acoustic Envelope Detector and Video Capture & Synchronisation System) to build up a full picture of the user’s experience when opening a can.

Yoghurts have long been part of packed lunches. They have come on a long way in recent years, evolving to kombucha-filled, dairy free or vegetable flavoured varieties. However, the general concept remains the same. Pot lids must peel without tearing and the product inside must be thick and creamy. The Universal Peel Rig, consisting of an adjustable sample platform and a peel grip attached to the load cell, is well-suited to measuring the strength of container seals.

Some lids are designed to be folded into a spoon; it is recommended that these are routinely tested for their rigidity as a material that is too flexible will not be fit for purpose. A three-point bend test is a quick and simple method for measuring the flexural stiffness of a material.

Ring Pull Rig; Three Point Bend Rig; Back Extrusion Rig
Ring Pull Rig; Three Point Bend Rig; Back Extrusion Rig

An assessment of the product itself should include a method that is designed for viscous liquids. Some studies incorrectly apply Textural Profile Analysis to yoghurt, but this method should only be used for large strain compression testing on freestanding samples. A more suitable test would use the Back Extrusion Rig, which gives a full profile of the sample’s consistency.

Small bags of pre-prepared fruit are a popular choice to grab from a supermarket shelf when shopping for a quick lunch. The challenge faced by manufacturers in this case is to ensure the fruit stays fresh and crisp but without excess packaging. Fruit samples should periodically be removed from their bag up until the specified ‘use by’ date and tested using a penetration probe. A 2mm diameter P2 probe is ideal for this purpose, as the puncture force of the skin can be assessed in the same stroke as flesh firmness. The bag itself must not be prone to bursting under the weight of other products during storage. The force required to burst a bag can be measured using a large compression platen. Anomalous low bursting forces should be investigated as part of any quality control procedure.

To Find out more about texture analysis solutions for your on-the-go product range, talk to Stable Micro Systems today.

Person with takeaway food and drink

Adhesives are used everywhere, but how do we know how good they are or which one to use?
Testing tape using the Peel Test Rig'

The value of the world market for self-adhesive tapes is set to expand at an annual pace of around 6.3% over the next few years, reaching $69 billion by 2022. Opportunities abound across an array of industries, from packaging and non-residential construction to electronics manufacturing.

Proven high performance will allow adhesive tapes to continue to compete against other joining, bonding and sealing technologies. However, as pressure on quality control departments steps up, it is essential to be able to assess accurately adhesive properties and strength to determine the ideal components for a particular tape and so optimise its performance.

Request our newly revised article 'Measuring the Stickiness of Adhesive Tapes’ which outlines some of the methods now used to put tapes through their paces.

In the research world, scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences have been researching new adhesive materials based on silicon-substituted polynorbornenes. Adhesives are widely used in many areas of everyday life and industry and modern adhesives have been created to work under challenging conditions. However, new formulations are always being studied. In this paper, polynorbornenes, a class of polymers, were investigated for use in a pressure-sensitive adhesive. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tack tests on adhesive specimens. Pressure-sensitive adhesives were successfully formulated. Read more

At the same institute they have been also been investigating pressure sensitive adhesives with tunable tackiness. Pressure sensitive adhesives are valuable to many industries. They do not require heating to form a strong bond. This study looks into the adhesive properties of various polymer-based adhesives, focussing on poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) and poly(vinyl caprolactam), which retain phase-separation ability in the presence of water at elevated temperatures, making it possible to obtain adhesives that reversibly lose stickiness when heated. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tack tests and peel tests on adhesive samples. The switching temperature of the adhesives was found to depend on their water content. However, adhesion was found to decrease near the lower critical solution temperature in dry compositions. Read more

In the patent field, a number of patents have recently been published which use the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser as part of the claims substantiation and physical assessment of inventions. Companies such as Dynasol Elastomeros, Karl Liebinger Medezintechnik GmbH & Co., Proctor & Gamble. View patents

To review the typical types of tests used in the adhesives industry for texture measurement visit our Adhesives Testing page.

Alternatively request our articles that gives an overview of all of these methods for materials and adhesives testing.

The Packaging Research Revolution: Biodegradable polymer foams and rubbers

A major focus of current research in both industrial and academic institutions is the development of suitable alternatives to single use plastics. This has been driven by the worldwide push for a cleaner environment, and both the manufacture and disposal of plastics are harmful in separate ways. Packaging is a large contributor to plastic production, particularly the single use sector. One method of reducing this production is to replace traditional polymers with biodegradable alternatives. A drawback of biodegradable plastics is their reduced strength and toughness. Mechanical properties are an important consideration when it comes to packaging, so their control is a crucial stage in the R&D process. Consequently, Stable Micro Systems feature heavily in publications from this field. The following are a selection of recent journal papers, specifically those focussing on polymer foams and rubbers.

Researchers from Ohio State University have been investigating the optimal mechanical properties of biodegradable natural rubber-toughened PHBV bioplastics intended for food packaging applications. The incorporation of natural rubber into PHBV through melt blending improves its flexibility and toughness but sacrifices tensile strength, due to low rubber modulus and insufficient compatibility between the two materials. These unbalanced mechanical properties restrict the use of this blend in packaging applications. The objective of this study was to optimise the mechanical properties of PHBV/natural rubber blends by using peroxide and coagent. They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to measure the strength of seals in a tensile test. Optimal mechanical performance of natural rubber toughened PHBV bioplastic was obtained using a combination of testing techniques. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul have been investigating biodegradable starch-based foams incorporated with grape stalks for food packaging. As part of the enormous drive to reduce the use of disposable plastics in packaging, this study looks into the use of naturally-sourced packaging options. They used their TA.XT2i Texture Analyser to perform flexural tests of the foams according to ASTM D 790-03. Foams completely biodegraded after 7 weeks, demonstrating that for the experimental conditions used, the interactions between the starch and grape stalks did not generate recalcitrant compounds or structural alterations that would impair foam degradation. Furthermore, the foams including grape stalks presented good properties in the applicability test, showing a promising application in the storage of foods with low moisture content. Read more

Researchers from the Federal University of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys have been investigating biodegradable trays based on cassava starch blended with agroindustrial residues. Biodegradable materials are an alternative to traditional synthetic polymer-based packaging materials. When they are discarded into the environment, they are easily degraded into simpler compounds that can be metabolised by bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Among biodegradable materials, materials derived from renewable resources (e.g., starch) have received increasing attention because they combine environmental and functional benefits. This study investigates how the fibrous agroindustrial residue concentration affects the properties of the biodegradable trays and compares these characteristics with the features of expanded polystyrene trays. They used their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to perform tensile tests on tray samples. The study found that fibrous agroindustrial residues can potentially be employed to produce biodegradable trays, especially the combination of sugarcane bagasse and cornhusk. Read more

Biodegradable polymer foams and rubbers

BBC shows off the Texture Analyser on ‘Dirty Vegan'
BBC shows off the Texture Analyser on ‘Dirty Vegan'

Recently Stable Micro Systems appeared on TV, putting the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser to work to prove the differences between tuna and vegan tuna products. Matt Pritchard from the BBC’s series Dirty Vegan visited Zero to Five (the Food Industry Centre based at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales) for the Season 2: 14th January broadcast. Food scientists were tasked to complete a number of vegan food challenges including the development of a vegan tuna product. This is a typical challenge for the Texture Analyser in an era of food product development where the removal of an ingredient (e.g. gluten-free) or the reformulation of a product (e.g. vegan) is constantly required.

Veganism is growing in popularity due to increased education about its environmental, health and ethical benefits. An Alpro report from 2018 (‘Plant-Based Profits with Alpro and BB Food Service’) stated that the UK plant based market at the time was worth £443m, having grown by £129m in three years. Due to this growth, vegan alternatives to products traditionally made with animal produce have swarmed the food market, and most use the new term ‘plant-based’ to describe a vegan product. It is now possible to buy a vegan version of almost every animal based product from chocolate fudge cake to crispy duck, and new companies are popping up that are dedicated solely to plant alternatives.

With this increased competition in the market, manufacturers have to try harder than ever to match the taste, texture and cost of the real thing. Consumers now expect vegan products to be almost indistinguishable from their animal counterpart. This presents a great challenge, particularly when it comes to texture.

Meat, for example, has a complex, fibrous texture that is difficult to imitate, but plant-based analogues can be put to the test quite simply by using Texture Analysis, to ensure that the results of physical testing match closely with tests performed on real meat. For example, pulled jackfruit is a popular topping for pizzas and tortillas, and is used in the place of pulled pork. Pulled pork is appealing because of its tenderness and melt-in-the-mouth texture. A reliable test of the tenderness of jackfruit is a bulk cutting technique. This product must be tested in bulk due to the large variation in sample geometries that result from the pulling process, and cutting is particularly useful here as it gives an indication of the force required to bite into the product, which represents its tenderness. Consequently, the Kramer Shear Cell or the Triple Cutting Ring System are the ideal testing rigs as they shear through a sample of variable configuration to create an averaging effect and provide a tenderness profile.

Cheese Extensibility Rig; Compression test; Acoustic Envelope Detector
Kramer Shear Cell; Triple Ring Cutting System; Temperature Controlled Peltier Cabinet

Although margarine has been available for vegans to spread on their toast for decades, a hard, meltable butter that can be used in the same way is a more difficult to come by, and this can limit vegan cooking by making certain processes difficult (e.g. rubbing butter and flour together in the pastry manufacture). A butter’s hardness variation with temperature can be measured with the use of an indentation probe and a Peltier cabinet. This provides a highly stable and accurate testing environment for controlled temperature tests, allowing temperatures from -20 to 80°C to be held. It is fixed directly to the base of the Texture Analyser on nylon insulating pillars that provide a thermal barrier from the instrument. A butter sample is placed in the cabinet and allowed to equilibrate to the correct temperature. An indentation test is then performed, usually with a conical or cylinder probe, to give an indication of the sample’s hardness. The temperature is adjusted, a fresh area of sample is moved beneath the probe, and the test is repeated.

In a similar way, the properties of melted cheese are difficult to replicate using plant based ingredients. The purpose built Cheese Extensibility Rig is ideal for testing the stretchiness of a melted cheese sample. A vessel is filled with a known weight of cheese and cooked until the sample melts. A fork attachment is lifted through the cheese and the profile of the force-distance graph gives a lot of information about the stretchiness that a consumer would perceive while eating it.

Kramer Shear Cell; Triple Ring Cutting System; Temperature Controlled Peltier Cabinet
Cheese Extensibility Rig; Compression test; Acoustic Envelope Detector

Animal products are an important ingredient in most traditional confectionery, and not only because of their influence on taste. They also play an important role in the texture of some products. For example, gummy bears made without beef gelatine can have too ‘short’ a texture; they do not stretch when bitten. As gummy bears are moulded, they have consistent dimensions, and so can be tested repeatably using a compressive ‘hold distance until time’ test. A more plastic sample will show a force drop during this hold period, whereas a more elastic sample (and more favourable to the customer) will show almost no force drop. This corresponds to a springier sample.

Milk chocolate has similar difficulties when milk is replaced with plant alternatives. They can play havoc with its mouthfeel and ‘bite’. Samples of milk chocolate can be tested in a three-point bend rig, and the force drop upon fracture gives an indication of the snap that will be felt in the mouth when the chocolate is bitten. The use of an Acoustic Envelope Detector will add another dimension to the test in the form of sound data.

Every time a vegan alternative to a more traditional product is introduced to the market, it is crucial that its texture is a close match. There are now so many excellent imitations available that manufacturers who neglect this aspect of their product will find it relegated to the reduced section in the supermarket. If you’re new to texture analysis, request our article entitled ‘Texture Analysis – Why texture measurement optimises food quality and customer satisfaction’ to give you a background on the use of this technology in your food manufacture.

Making up for texture in egg free food
Egg free food - macarons

The rise in demand for a plant based diet brings with it a wide range of challenges. However, there is one ingredient in particular that can cause big problems in its absence: the humble egg. Eggs play an important part in a lot of cooking because they have so many interesting functions. They can add shine to the top of pies, emulsify sauces, aerate chocolate mousse and add moisture and fat to cake.

When a whole egg is used in a recipe, they combine the individual properties of the yolk and white. They emulsify, bind ingredients and solidify when heated to provide mechanical support. When sugar is added, eggs are excellent at trapping air, adding lightness to a recipe. Whole eggs are used in waffles, brownies, muffins, cookies and sponge cake to name a few. The components of an egg may be used separately, too. When an egg white is whipped, it forms a stable foam. This is useful in macarons, marshmallows and meringues. A yolk, when used alone, exploits its high fat content and emulsification properties. Yolks are used alone in ice cream, custard, creme brulee and pastry cream.

Vegans have long been replacing eggs in their cooking with weird and wonderful ingredients. Now most supermarkets have a ‘plant based’ aisle, manufacturers have caught up with the home cooks and are selling products made with replacement ingredients, or else adjusted recipes. Egg free does not necessarily mean a product is vegan – dairy products may be included for those following an egg free diet. As with any new food product, it is crucial that its texture is tested thoroughly before it is released onto the market, or else it will be passed over in favour of a brand who have carried out the necessary research and set the gold standard.

The first product that springs to mind as ‘impossible without eggs’ is meringue. However, egg free meringue is made a possibility by the fact that chickpea water, otherwise known as ‘aquafaba’, forms into soft peaks when whipped, just like egg whites. The most important attribute of a meringue is its crispness. As meringues often come in irregular shapes, their crispness is most easily measured using a penetration test. A 2mm cylinder probe allows multiple test sites on the same sample, and is best applied to areas with a flat surface. A crisp meringue will show a definite force peak with a sharp drop off; a flaccid meringue will show a more gradual peak.

Eggs help to give brioche its fluffy texture, rich flavour and yellow colour. They can be replaced, however, with the addition of buttermilk and yellow food colouring, but this can compromise the fluffiness of the loaf, impacting both its softness and volume. Brioche volume can be measured using a simple measurement in the Volscan Profiler within 30 seconds. This is a benchtop laser-based scanner that measures the volume, density and dimensional profiles of solid products.

Brioche softness is often tested by the consumer in-store by squeezing it between the thumb and fingers, creating a ‘V’ shape with the hand. The Bread V Squeeze Rig imitates this process and allows the bakery’s R&D department to perform repeatable, scientific analysis of the freshness and appeal of bread products. Its V-shaped ‘fingers’ are pressed into a packaged or unpackaged loaf, and the force required to compress the bread is measured. Post-test calculations are then used as an indication of freshness – the lower the force and higher the value of springiness, the fresher the loaf. This non-destructive test offers simplicity and speed as the loaf requires no sample preparation and can be analysed within its packaging.

Volscan ProfilerC, Bread V Squeeze Rig and compression platen
Volscan ProfilerC; Bread V Squeeze Rig; Compression platen

In a similar vein, sponge cake relies on eggs for its richness and structure, although some recipes call for golden syrup or even vinegar replacements. As its name suggests, springiness is of high importance in a sponge cake – when squeezed, it should push back and return back to its original size. This property can be measured using a relaxation test, during which the Texture Analyser compresses a sample by a specific amount over a given time period. The analysis capabilities of Exponent software allow the springiness to be calculated from the force-time graph.

Although a crisp English biscuit rarely contains any eggs, its chewy American counterpart relies on them. This chewiness is difficult to replicate, but careful research and recipe control can give success. This usually calls for a recipe adjustment (in the form of increased water and fat contents) rather than an additional ingredient. A three-point bend test is a quick and simple way to assess chewiness. Unlike the desired sudden force drop in a meringue penetration test, a three-point bend of a chewy cookie should show a shallow profile, just as a customer would feel a gradual increase in force as they tear it in half between their hands.

3 Point Bend Rig; TTC Spreadability Rig; Back Extrusion Rig
3 Point Bend Rig; TTC Spreadability Rig; Back Extrusion Rig

Moving into the realm of semi-solids, both eggless pastry cream and eggless mayonnaise can be bought in specialist shops. Pastry cream replaces eggs with custard powder or potato starch; mayonnaise can use thickened soya milk. In both cases, their consistency should be soft and smooth. As mayonnaise is generally used as a sauce base or spread thinly on sandwiches, it has a lower viscosity than pastry cream (which must hold its shape), so their tests will not necessarily be the same. Pastry cream is well-suited to the Spreadability Rig, which holds a small volume of sample in a female cone and displaces it completely with a male cone. This has the added advantage of measuring the sample’s adhesiveness during the unloading period.

Mayonnaise is often tested using the Back Extrusion Rig. This rig is comprised of a sample container that is centrally located beneath a disc plunger. The disc plunger performs a compression test, which extrudes the product up and around the edge of the disc. This test measures the consistency of viscous products. Using the back extrusion principle (i.e. using a disc on the probe adapter) the consistency can also be determined directly in containers straight from the production line. This rules out pre-stressing of the material caused by transfilling; this cannot usually be avoided when using other methods.

The egg free concept is such an important area of research that Campden BRI, who provide the food industry with scientific, technical and advisory services, have a new ‘club’ dedicated to egg replacements, with the aim of finding the most suitable replacement for each product category based on an increased understanding of the mechanisms of plant-based egg replacements. To learn about Texture Analysis techniques for your egg free range, contact Stable Micro Systems today.

How to test keto product texture

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high fat diet that has been used historically to control seizures in some epilepsy patients, while causing the body to burn fat (rather than glucose) for energy. It has had a recent revival and become an extremely popular way to lose weight. While a person on the keto diet will not go hungry with the large choice of filling foods still available (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, nuts, berries and cream to name a few), one thing they do lack is the comforting feeling of sitting down to a plate of pasta or a steaming jam sponge pudding and custard.

However, due to the diet’s popularity, there is a large bank of recipes available online to create alternatives to popular high-carb foods at home. More recently, ready-made alternatives have made their way to major supermarkets. The challenge of achieving more traditional textures has not been met in most cases. One of our recent blog posts outlines some examples of keto alternatives and the best method of Texture Analysis to allow R&D departments to imitate the real thing. Read our post to find out the most suitable methods for such products as bread, tortilla wraps, pizza bases, biscuits and pasta.

The Texture Analyser can be used to measure almost every textural property of a food product and is a crucial step in the process of delivering the best range of keto alternatives in this quickly-expanding market.

Read more

Testing keto product texture

Dairy alternative market set to cause a stir

According to GlobeNewsWire, the global Dairy Alternatives market is expected to Reach USD 38.9 Billion by 2025. Factors like increasing awareness of consumers toward a vegan diet, lactose intolerance among the population and demand for various fortified dairy food and beverage applications are boosting the market growth. Whilst the high cost of dairy alternative milk and prominence of low cholesterol and low fat conventional milk will impede the market growth, the innovation in flavour and sources of dairy alternative beverages and increasing demand for soy milk, rice milk and almond milk proteins provide wider opportunity for the market to grow.

In terms of exciting product developments in this industry, according to Emily Heil at afr.com there is a high-tech vegan ice cream threatening to upend the dairy industry.

For years, people buying plant-based alternatives to animal products were used to flavours and textures that weren't quite the same as the article they were trying to copy. However, just as veggie burger makers like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are inching ever closer to mimicking the real thing, with lab-concocted beef-like marbling and juices, the creators of a new vegan ice cream are using technological wizardry to create a product that could fool even the most die-hard dairy aficionados.

Ice cream has been particularly tricky to veganise: Nut "milks" often freeze up hard or chalky or leave an aftertaste. "Dairy is one of the hardest things for us to conquer," says Washington chef Todd Gray, who hosted a tasting of the new offerings by Eclipse Foods recently. Eclipse founders Thomas Bowman and Aylon Steinhart hope to roll out their products to more food-service settings, such as tech campuses and universities, before going retail. They also have big plans for plant-based cheese, sour cream and yoghurt. But first, they're out to conquer ice cream.

Bowman and Steinhart claim they've re-created the texture, taste and functionality of dairy by using plant products to form micelles, "the magic spheres" that are the molecular structures of milk proteins. However, their ice cream's base ingredients – which include oat fibre, cane sugar, glucose, canola oil, cassava starch and potato protein – are less important than the process used to create it, they say. Tinkering with the steps - how to incorporate the ingredients, and the precise heating, pressurising and blending – was the key. "It enables the functionality that makes it indistinguishable from its animal counterpart," says Thomas.

As with all alternative ingredients, the proof is in the testing. The product will be rejected if the texture (and flavour) is not true to consumer expectation. That’s where texture analysis comes in. Once the dairy alternative product is formulated it will need to be compared with the ‘gold standard’ product, who’s texture analysis fingerprint will have been created as the ideal textural quality. If the new formulation is in any way different to the traditional product’s texture it may well be back to the drawing board. Can you risk launching a new product that doesn’t measure up in every sense? Make sure texture analysis is part of your product development process. See typical examples of texture analysis in the dairy industry here

Cargill have written an interesting article which summarises the latest trends in product development for the dairy industry entitled “Texture innovation smooths the way for todays’s dairy”. Clean label, reduced sugar and dairy alternatives feature as the latest trends – all of which require reformulation and therefore, ultimately, a check on the effects on product texture. Read the report

Alternative options to dairy milk - lentil, coconut and almond

Testing clean label personal care and cosmetic products
Natural beauty, clean skin

It started with food. Now the “clean label” movement is influencing the development of personal care and cosmetic formulations. There is a lot of confusion of what exactly constitutes a “clean label” product. However, it is generally accepted that “clean label” means using as few ingredients as possible and using only ingredients that consumers recognise.

What’s behind the trend? Consumers are demanding products that they perceive are better for their bodies, families, and the environment. Market research shows consumers now rank natural ingredients and environmental impact ahead of brand recognition and product descriptions. They expect personalised products from a company whose values align with their own. Food containing nothing artificial once qualified as acceptable, but according to a 2017 survey, shoppers now look for labels with less sugar, more protein, and fewer ingredients with recognisable names.

Potential growth for “clean label” cosmetic products is substantial. A survey of social media outlets reveals a spike in the use of the term “clean label” over the past two years. This consumer-driven movement has now crept into the personal care industry, where it has the potential to have a major impact. The skin care market is predicted to grow annually by 6% globally until 2022, and according to a recent analysis, much of this growth will be driven by increased consumer interest in natural, plant-based ingredients.

One of the biggest challenges that manufacturers face when working towards “clean label” for their products is reformulating an existing product or formulating a new one using “clean label” ingredients. Providing a clean label for such items requires formulators to consider new ways of making safer, sustainable ingredients. While consumers want clean label products, they are not generally also willing to compromise on product performance. Texture analysis can greatly speed up the reformulation process and new product development by providing quantifiable, repeatable and accurate data on the physical properties of a product.

There are a vast selection of physical properties (or product attributes) that a Texture Analyser can quantify in the cosmetic and personal care industries. Amongst typical examples are:

• Hardness of lipstick, lip balm, wax, false nails, soaps, creams, and eye shadows

• Firmness and friction of deodorants solids, roll-ons, and antiperspirants

• Hair combability and bend strength before and after conditioning and treatments

• Hair friction, smoothness, flexibility and stiffness

• Compaction strength, cohesion and payout of eye shadow and face powders

• Claims validation for skin firming and anti-aging products

• Spreadability, stickiness and curing of any product

Additionally, texture analysis is useful in validating product claims which can help manufacturers differentiate their products. If you are considering clean labelling your formulations, see the range of typical examples in action here.

In honour of our texture analysis heroes

When the Journal of Texture Studies was launched, food texture was just a small research area involving only a limited number of food scientists. However, 50 years on, food texture research has firmly established itself as an independent and influential multiple disciplinary subject of food science, dealing with the complicated sciences behind the design and consumers’ sensory appreciation and preference of food products. Thanks to generations of talented food texture researchers, huge progress has been made both in the fundamental understanding of the principles of food texture and applications of such principles in solving texture-related challenges.

To recognise the great contributions and achievements of food texture scientists, the Journal of Texture Studies felt that in its 50th anniversary year, it was appropriate to honour these outstanding food texture experts by offering awards in two separate categories: Most Outstanding Contributors in Texture Research and Rising Stars in Texture Research. The former is designated to honour esteemed senior texture researchers who have established international reputation for their outstanding contributions to the discipline, while the latter is designated to honour young texture researchers who are in a relatively early stage of their research career but have shown exceptional capability and potential to grow in texture research. Nominations of high calibre candidates were received and, after a strict process of selection by two judging panels consisting of texture experts of JTS board, the esteemed researchers in both categories were announced recently.

The Most Outstanding Contributors in Texture Research were selected because of their world‐leading research and outstanding contributions in either the scientific understanding of food texture or in the application of food texture theory and knowledge to solve texture issues concerned by industries and consumers. They are (in alphabetical order):

• Prof. Susana Fiszman, IATA, CSIC, Spain

• Prof. E. Allen Foegeding, North Carolina State University, USA

• Prof. Peter Lillford, University of Birmingham, UK

• Prof. John Mitchell, University of Nottingham, UK

• Prof. Katsuyoshi Nishinari, Hubei University of Technology, China

Another seven successful young researchers were nominated as the Rising Stars in Texture Research. All Rising Stars have research background in food texture and related areas. Despite relatively early in their scientific career, all award receivers have made recognisable contributions to the development of the discipline and have shown their talents and potential to grow in future. They are (in alphabetical order):

• Dr. Jing Gao, National University of Singapore, Singapore.

• Dr. Benjamin Holman, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Australia.

• Dr. Mario Jekle, Technical University of Munich, Germany

• Dr. Helen Joyner, University of Idaho, USA

• Dr. Laura Laguna, IATA, CSIS, Spain

• Dr. Curtis Luckett, University of Tennessee, USA

• Dr. Cordelia Running, Purdue University, USA

Stable Micro Systems was, of course, delighted to provide the awards for this celebration which have now been received. Read more about these awards and the background of each of the successful recipients.

The recipients - our texture analaysis heroes

Campden BRI defines cake 'fluffiness'
Fluffy sponge cake with cream and raspberries

What does fluffy actually mean and how can you measure it in a cake? Researchers at Campden BRI along with members of a research club including Kenwood/Delonghi (the makers of the domestic planetary mixers) and Upfield/Unilever (the producers of cake margarines) have been taking a good look at what makes a good cake. From their own research, Kenwood/Delonghi and Upfield/Unilever explained that consumers recognise fluffiness as an important parameter for cake quality. Campden BRI then set about to attempt to define cake fluffiness and to derive an equation to measure it.

Cake ‘fluffiness’ is commonly used as a desirable quality for cakes and the term is regularly used in adverts and on the packaging of cake products. It is therefore important to be able to quantify fluffiness when developing new and current recipes/processes or when making claims that one cake is fluffier than another. Common descriptors of cake fluffiness include: soft, light, airy, crumbly, springy and moist. It appears that there is no single accepted definition of cake fluffiness, so the challenge to measure cake fluffiness was greater than they first thought.

Is density a factor?

Focusing on what they knew and could already measure, a range of different types of cakes were baked, their textural properties analysed using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser, and their density measured using their laser volume measuring system (Volscan). Informal sensory assessment was carried out by the project team and comments noted about the different cakes. This helped them identify if a cake was considered fluffy or not, rather than how fluffy it was.

The importance of texture

Next, the textural properties were analysed using a texture profile analysis (TPA) test. TPA is a double compression test which is commonly used for cakes and bread. It not only measures the firmness but also the recovery/destruction of the sample. Firmness is the maximum force reached during the first compression and softness is just the opposite of this i.e. the cake with the lowest firmness value is the softest. After further informal sensory analysis, the results were compared to the TPA results and it was found that there was a strong correlation between the softest cakes and the cakes which were perceived to be the fluffiest. This finding provided the basis for using softness (firmness) as a main parameter in objectively describing fluffiness.

The ‘springiness’ factor

However, they hypothesised that softness was not the only parameter to consider when determining if a cake was fluffy or not. They considered other parameters that were also generated from the TPA, such as springiness. Springiness is defined, from a TPA test, as how far the cake ‘springs’ back between compressions. They noted that some of the softer cakes were ‘claggy’ and it was observed on the Texture Analyser that they were also not as springy. That is, when compressed with a finger, they squash easily, but do not bounce back. It was then decided to use springiness along with softness, as the main parameters for describing fluffiness objectively.

They concluded that ‘fluffy cake is a soft and springy cake’. The next challenge was to incorporate these parameters into an equation that could be used to generate a fluffiness value. With the parameters and the method confirmed, the equation could be written as follows:

Cake 'fluffiness' equation

Cake quality is described and measured in numerous different ways and varies from person to person and from cake to cake. Fluffiness is just one of the characteristics that can make a cake delicious and desirable. This equation and definition give some clarity to an instrumental measurement of fluffiness. It is an arbitrary method of quantifying fluffiness that works for the cakes studied in this project. The values obtained are meant to provide a relative judgement on cake fluffiness. The units depend on firmness and the value chosen for ‘n’, which is the relative ‘importance’ of springiness. The value of K, which is a multiplication factor, was chosen to give numbers in the region 0 – 100. Through the series of experiments, informal sensory trials and discussion, we determined that the most suitable values were K = 106 and n = 5.

Read the full article

Free-From Food Market growing to 2028
Free-from food market growing to 2028

The 'Free-From' Food Market is expected to surpass revenues worth US$ 60 Bn in 2019, according to a new study of Fact.MR.

According to a report, the free from food market is projected to register a CAGR of nearly 7.0% CAGR through 2028. Free-from food sales continue to remain influenced by a range of factors, including rising consumer awareness on food allergies and intolerances, and upward trend of health and wellness.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food allergies are a growing public health concern, which affect nearly 6% children in the US alone. Absence of effective treatment for food allergies and intolerance has been complementing the adoption of free-from food among consumers worldwide. However, sustainable sourcing of free-from ingredients, and effective processing technologies, continue to remain key concerns to be addressed by players in the free-from food market. Read more

A key challenge faced by the free-from food manufacturers is sustainable sourcing of naturally-derived ingredients and preservatives, which are devoid of allergens, while retaining the taste and texture of food. Understanding the impact on texture, and the potential implications of these texture changes, is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers. So, what can manufacturers do? Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards.

Discover a range of testing options available for texture analysis assessment of foods reformulated to remove fat, salt and sugar.

With an incidence of coeliac disease approaching 1/200 in some European countries, the potential market for gluten-free products has never been so interesting. These products do however, need to be fully assessed to make sure that their sensory range of properties meet consumer expectation.

Request our articles Low salt, low fat, low sugar – testing texture in reformulated food and Quality control of bakery product texture – traditional, novelty and gluten-free

Consumers crave novel properties, survey finds

When it comes to food and drink flavours, consumers are more difficult than ever to impress because of the amount of choice they are exposed to.

As such, it is crucial that food and drinks are not only seen as appealing now but create some sense of excitement and adventure among consumers. Brands should push the boundaries of sensory appeal by continuing to launch products with new and innovative flavours and textures. The goal, when applicable, is to see these unusual flavours combined with novel textures and colours to create a truly unique consumption experience.

At a time when consumers are becoming more experimental and demanding than ever before, there is an opportunity for brands and products to continue to push consumers’ sensory perceptions and really wow. For instance, a total of 42% of consumers that were surveyed across the globe said that they liked products with new and novel textures.

Read more about this survey

Once manufacturers have decided that their new products need to have a textural focus they will need to measure this texture in order to provide consistency of quality and, in return, consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty. This is where the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser is the obvious tool for the job.

If you would like to see a summary of the many different textural properties that can be measured, visit our Textural Properties page.

Alternatively, request an article which gives common examples of how a Texture Analyser can be applied to the measurement of many food products.

Consumers crave novel properties, survey finds

Texture analysis of gluten-free products
Texture analysis of gluten-free products

Gluten is the complex of proteins found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt that gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape. It is the ‘natural glue’ that holds food together. It is because of gluten that baked goods made with wheat have their characteristic texture, strength, and crumb structure, and other sensory properties.

Gluten performs such a valuable service, but unfortunately for a certain percentage of the population, the consumption of gluten can cause serious medical conditions such as coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder. People with coeliac disease must avoid gluten in their diets.

An increased awareness of coeliac disease, in part, has driven interest in the gluten-free market which is projected to expand to USD 6.47 Bn in 2023 (CAGR of 7.6% from 2018). The growth in this market has also been fuelled by other consumer health trends including weight management and those that favour simpler, less processed foods.

Unsurprisingly, when gluten is removed from baked goods and other formulations, sensory properties such as taste and mouthfeel are usually compromised. Since gluten is present in a wide range of foods, it has been difficult for consumers to find gluten-free alternatives that taste good and have desirable texture properties. Consequently, manufacturers having been busy looking for different ingredient solutions that will address these problems and a wide of alternatives to their gluten-loaded counterparts are available. The potential market for gluten-free products has never been so interesting. These products do however, need to be fully assessed to make sure that their sensory range of properties meet consumer expectation.

Perhaps you are among these manufacturers? If so, you might like to receive our article ‘Quality control of bakery product texture – traditional, novelty and gluten-free’.

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Substantiate your product claims with texture analysis

Make sure you can back up claims with facts!

Customers are wary of manufacturers using taglines to tempt them into buying their product – a conditioner that states “hair three times suppler after first use” will not sell well if customers start using it and find no difference to their tresses.

News travels fast these days with thousands of cosmetics review sites and online shops, and products that fail to live up to their claims will be given poor marks. The manufacturers could have performed a simple bend test on hair specimens treated with their conditioner and would have found their mistake before it was too late.

The development of methods to measure the effect of cosmetics is driven by increasing pressure on cosmetic companies to provide solid evidence to support product claims.

Claims on cosmetics products need to be substantiated to protect the consumer from false advertising. False claims are not fair to the consumer and lead to scepticism over claims from all cosmetics companies, not just the ones who exaggerated their products’ abilities, and so other companies who work hard to ensure efficacy in their products will also be mistrusted. Prior use of particular ingredients or behaviour of formulations is not representative of the characteristics a new or different formulation, and so reading the literature is not enough.

Efficacy testing gives a manufacturer information on how well a product lives up to its intended use. Instrumental, clinical, sensory analysis and consumer market research are all used to substantiate efficacy claims. The inclusion of all of these methods is very important and will give useful data but instrumental is the least subjective with the least bias on human perception and consumer preference, measuring the nature and magnitude of product effect, and so it should never be skipped. Instrumental methods are precise and sensitive, but even so it can be difficult to measure the whole use of a product, which is why several instrumental methods testing different components of a product are used, and combined with sensory testing or market research.

Additionally, human perception can be correlated with machine data. Efficacy testing using instrumented methods has been of interest for decades, with the first publication of note drawing on a study on the UV absorbance of sunscreen excipients in 1947, in the first Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Since then efficacy testing has taken off, with subjective studies ahead of the game until the sixties when instrumental methods became more widespread, with the new difficulty of making tests reproducible between laboratories.

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Substantiate your product claims with texture analysis

Reformulating without sacrificing texture: Stratus Foods & Qualisoy
MReformulating without sacrificing texture: Stratus Foods & Qualisoy

Younger generations of consumers are frequently noted to be much more health conscious when it comes to food perhaps more than any other generation before.

As manufacturers work to offer “healthier” versions of many everyday food products with lower sugar content, different fats, and gluten-free ingredients, they may find themselves in a quandary. While consumers want “healthier” version of foods, they do not want to compromise on taste or texture. This presents a sometimes difficult challenge to food scientists. Reducing sugar, replacing one fat for another, or even switching the sourcing of a particular ingredient can change a food product’s texture sometimes slightly, sometimes dramatically. It can require many hours of experimentation to develop reformulations that come close to the physical properties of the “real” thing.

Recently, Stratus Foods and Qualisoy successfully tackled the challenge of reformulating margarines and shortenings to use U.S.-grown oleic soybean oil for pie crusts and laminated dough applications. “The results were nothing short of amazing,” said Roger Daniels, VP of Research, Development & Innovation at Stratas Foods. “We found that we achieved a new gold standard in performance without partial hydrogenation.”

Find out more in this video

Understanding the impact on texture, and the potential implications of these texture changes, is crucial in ensuring new product launches aren’t a miss with consumers. So, what can manufacturers do? Consistent, objective measurement is vital for informing reformulation and new product development, in addition to maintaining high quality standards.

Discover a range of testing options available for texture analysis assessment of foods reformulated to remove fat, salt and sugar.

Request our article ‘Low salt, low fat, low sugar – testing texture in reformulated food’.

Measuring pasta quality parameters

A while ago we found this great article ‘Measuring Pasta Quality Parameters’.

The quality of pasta can be established by measuring a number of its characteristics which are considered the most important pasta quality parameters, such as colour, firmness during cooking and texture properties.

In this article, the methods most commonly used for measuring these parameters are described.

Click or tap here to read this article.

Amongst the recent developments from Stable Micro Systems is the Triple Ring Cutting System.

Bulk testing can now be performed with this device, which allows the determination of the textural properties of small non-uniform samples such as pasta or noodles in smaller quantities.

The design of the test head is based around a cutting array of concentric rings which provides a large cutting surface area in a relatively small device. The concentric rings cut into the sample during a test (to a chosen distance above the vessel base) and force the sample to breakdown, at which point the force during the procedure is recorded.

The Triple Ring Cutting System is a Community Registered Design and is a continuation of the ever-increasing range of innovative solutions for texture analysis.

Click or tap here to read more about this...

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Parma have been investigating a multi-scale approach for pasta quality feature assessment.

The pasta industry has introduced in the market new pasta formulations to respond to consumers' nutritional and health needs. The resulting macromolecular, mesoscopic, and microscopic changes induced in pasta need to be evaluated.

In this work, a multi-scale screening of physico-chemical properties was performed on commercial pasta formulations (wheat semolina, whole wheat semolina, veggie, gluten free). They used their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser to perform hardness measurements on single samples.

Pasta samples showed significantly different properties. For example, wheat semolina and whole flour samples had a more pronounced viscoelastic behaviour and higher hardness. This study indicated the ability of a multi-scale approach in discriminating pastas' formulation.

Click or tap here to Read more

Measuring pasta quality parameters

Modifying texture can boost satiety in lower calorie foods, says researcher
Modifying texture can boost satiety in lower calorie foods, says researcher

According to a scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Nofima), reshaping the texture of well-liked foods could help combat obesity and over-eating.

Quoc Cuong Nguyen's research investigates the link between sensory perception, consumer expectation and satiety and finds that changing the texture of well-liked foods, to prolong the chewing time and ensure prolonged oral exposure, could make people eat less whilst experiencing a similar level of pleasure.

Click or tap here to read more from this FoodNavigator article...

At the University of Leeds, scientists have been researching the influence of oral lubrication on food intake in a proof-of-concept study.

As overeating, overweight and obesity remain public health concerns, it is crucial to design satiety-enhancing foods that suppress appetite and lower snack intake. Existing research identifies oro-sensory targets to promote satiation and satiety, yet it remains unclear as to whether it is ‘chewing’ or ‘oral lubrication’ that might amplify satiation signals.

In this study, techniques from experimental psychology, food material science and mechanical engineering have been combined to develop model foods to investigate the role of chewing and oral lubrication on food intake. Uniaxial single compression tests were performed on the hydrogels using their TA.XT2 Texture Analyser. Results showed that snack intake was suppressed by 32% after eating the low chewing/high lubricating preload compared to the high chewing/low lubricating preload.

Hunger ratings decreased, however, differences between conditions were subtle and not significant. Thus, this proof-of-concept study demonstrates that manipulating oral lubrication is a promising new construct to reduce snack intake that merits future research in the oro-sensory satiety domain.

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Meanwhile, other researchers around the world have recently been using their Texture Analysers to investigate calorie reduction and satiety and the utilisation of fat replacers and have published their work in 2019.

For example:

· Partial replacement of meat and fat with hydrated wheat fiber in beef burgers decreases caloric value without reducing the feeling of satiety after consumption

· Rheological and pasting behavior of OSA modified mungbean starches and its utilization in cake formulation as fat replacer

· Feasibility of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose oleogel as an animal fat replacer for meat patties

· Functional and pizza bake properties of Mozzarella cheese made with konjac glucomannan as a fat replacer

Postharvest Physiology and Biochemistry of Fruits and Vegetables is a newly published book with an interesting chapter entitled 'Texture'.

“Postharvest changes are natural physiological processes occurring in all types of fruits and vegetables.

“Postharvest changes mainly influence the inner structure of the products, but are reflected in significant changes in the essential texture attributes. Thus, it is necessary to reduce inappropriate storage conditions, to satisfy consumer expectations offering high-quality purchased products.

“Inadequate storage conditions cause texture changes, dehydration, water loss, too fast ripening, and early senescence of products, which are mainly reflected as fruit softening and specific unpleasant texture attributes such as wooliness. Assuring an appropriate temperature and an adequate relative humidity during storage will slow down these negative changes, but will never improve the texture of the harvested products.

“Thus, to have the best possible fruit/vegetable texture it is essential to harvest products at the proper time and to guarantee optimum storage conditions.”

The destructive instrumental methods mentioned in this chapter include, among others: puncture, Magness-Taylor, compression, cutting, and TPA tests. According to the author of this chapter, these tests must be conducted using a texture-meter – such as the Stable Micro Systems TA.XT2i Texture Analyser.

To see a variety of probes and fixtures that can be used on the Texture Analyser for testing fruit and vegetables, click or tap here...

Click or tap here to request our article ‘Measuring and monitoring the texture of fruit and fruit products’

Postharvest Physiology and Biochemistry of Fruits and Vegetables

Texture Analysis on TV
Texture Analysis on TV

Channel 4 shows off the Texture Analyser

Stable Micro Systems have been recently given two opportunities to appear on TV, putting the TA.XTplus and TA.HDplus Texture Analysers to work to prove the differences between products.

Channel 4 documentary Food Unwrapped will soon feature the TA.XTplus in an episode where it will be employed to compare two types of french fries that KFC have just launched into their outlets. The new french fry has been designed to stay crispier for longer when purchased as a takeaway. A simple penetration test provided the result they needed to show the improvement of their new product.

In addition, the Christmas special episode of Food Unwrapped has recently featured the TA.HDplus, and our Texture Expert Paul Brown, out in the Lincolnshire fields assessing the differences between Brussels sprouts cooked with and without their ends being cross-cut.

These are just two typical examples of how a Texture Analyser is used to substantiate textural claims and to quantify the improvement/ deterioration of textural quality.

Find out more at our Beginner's Guide to Texture Analysis page...

Making Dairy product texture a priority

Consumers look for the best texture

'Making Dairy Texture a Priority' is an interesting article, published recently in Food Business News, reviewing the progress being made by major dairy product manufacturers in their efforts to make quality improvements and gain brand loyalty.

When it comes to dairy products, consumers typically expect smooth, creamy and void of standing moisture, liquid or frozen. They don’t want starchy or gummy lumps in sour cream, protein or mineral sedimentation in drinkable yogurt, or ice crystals in ice cream.

Visual cues are indicators of product texture, which in turn influences how the product feels in the mouth. This is why texture has become a focal point during the early stages of product development.

Most consumers don’t think about a food’s texture or mouthfeel unless it is inferior. Texturants can assist with delivering a product that keeps consumers coming back. 

“Texture is our first, and often our lasting impression of the food we eat,” said Brian Surratt, senior dairy applications scientist at Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis, USA. “As a result, one of the most basic questions to answer before any development project begins is what is the intended consumer’s textural expectations and desires".

To read more on Cargill and other manufacturers' texturant solutions, click or tap here...

Request a copy of Stable Micro Systems' Using texture analysis in the development of dairy and dairy alternative products article, which reveals a range of new test methods developed to minimise variability in dairy foods.

Making Dairy product texture a priority

Food firming agents market to grow...
Food firming agents market to grow

...at a CAGR of 9+% by 2022.

Firming agents are those food additives which primarily prevent softening of processed fruits, vegetables, or fish product, especially during the process of canning.

These also provides firmness to the curd and to certain types of cheese. Increasing demand of canned food products across the globe is expected to contribute to the demand for firming agents during the forecast period. The change in lifestyles has influenced the additives market largely. Demand for proper texture, mesmerising taste and appearance have increased the use of glazing agents in bakery and confectionery segments. This has resulted in an additional demand for the overall industry.

These firming agents are most likely to be in powder form and, as such, may be prone to problems with flowability at a certain stage in the processing of the finished product. Problems such as caking, cohesion and knowing the ideal speed to push the powder through the factory with minimal disruption to output will need to be considered.

To help you assess such issues, look no further than the Powder Flow Analyser, which can be easily attached to your Texture Analyser and provide a whole new world of testing possibilities.

Click or tap here to request our new brochure covering every testing possibility for powders through to the finished product physical characteristics.

Taste, texture & temperature

The necessity of adapting food texture for patients' food intake

Getting food texture right for individual needs can make all the difference between enjoying food and being unable/unwilling to eat.

The reality for a fair number of maxillofacial surgery patients is that they will experience difficulties with eating and/or drinking of some sort during or after treatment periods, of varying degrees of severity and varying duration. Understanding the complicated processes that all need to work to perfection in order for us to be able to swallow properly as well as the role of saliva in supporting chewing and swallowing equips us with hints and ideas about how to mitigate many of these problems.

Our experience of eating is a complex mixture of contributions from different senses (taste and smell), the texture and temperature of foods, habits and social situations, our sense of (visual) aesthetics, sensual pleasures, as well as the clever ways in which nature runs our appetite in order to ensure that our bodies get the necessary nutrition. 

Concentrating on our sense of taste and the texture and temperature of food and drink is therefore a massive simplification but is helpful to gain some understanding of the interplay of food and drink with eating / swallowing. This is important to understand the normal functions, what happens when they are compromised and, hence, how one can best mitigate such difficulties by all kinds of practical tricks and how the modification of texture and temperature of foods enables oral food intake even in difficult circumstances. 

Click or tap here to Read more

The adaptation of texture for chemo patients is also necessary.

According to CalmerMe, the likelihood of your eating anything during chemotherapy can be improved by focusing on a meal’s texture rather than its ingredients. Different textures will work at different times for different people, so it might take a little experimenting.

Click or tap here to Read more

Taste, texture & temperature

Texture is ‘the next big thing’
Texture is ‘the next big thing’

According to Mintel, texture is ‘the next big thing’, in food and beverage marketing in the US and Latin America.

As companies try to keep up with demand for new products and experiences texture plays a pivotal role in how consumers experience food and beverages.

Playing up texture can make existing products more exciting and give manufacturers another tool to renovate iconic brands, which in turn can ease the pressure to constantly innovate entirely new concepts.

The Research Manager for Mintel Food & Drink in the Americas told attendees at the 2018 Food Tech Summit & Expo in Mexico that data points to the fact that 81% of consumers in France say they choose ice creams that have different textures in them, and that 52% of consumers in China say they expect indulgent biscuits not just to have a great flavour but also layers of texture.

Mintel currently tracks 25 texture attributes on product packing and has discovered that three-quarters of product introductions addressing texture focus on only five attributes: crunchy, smooth, soft, carbonated and chunky. That means that those 20 other textural attributes are out there to be taken advantage of. Clearly, texture can provide a strong point of differentiation for brands in a competitive category, which at the moment is highlighted in the bakery and snacks sectors.

To read the full article on Food Navigator USA, click or tap here...

Once manufacturers have decided that their new products need to have a textural focus they will need to measure this texture in order to provide consistency of quality and, in return, consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

This is where the TA.XTplus Texture Analyser is the obvious tool for the job.

If you would like to see a summary of the many different textural properties that can be measured, visit our Texture Analysis Properties page...

Or you might like to request an article which gives common examples of how a Texture Analyser can be applied to the measurement of many food products.

Texture is the final frontier of food science

More than ever, products must feel right

Tweaking texture could give us healthy versions of our favourite junk foods – and that's just the beginning.

According to a recent Popular Science article, food’s texture, called rheology, is so intricately tied to our food preferences that it’s becoming a bona fide area of study.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) uses computational models to study how food moves and interacts with all of the surfaces of the mouth – technology previously used to predict tsunamis – to help better understand the connection.

The Tsunami inside our mouths 

A lot happens inside of our mouths between the first bite and the final swallow. The tongue may gently nudge the morsel towards the central incisors – whether to the left or on the right is a matter of unconscious preference – to break food down to even smaller pieces. 

The pieces may linger there, or get shunted to the back molars, or the tongue may shift them wholly to the other side. Alternatively, pieces may rest chipmunk-style in the cheek sacs along both sides of the mouth while the molars get to work. Or, depending on the person and the food, the piece may linger on the tongue, where salivary acids let it soften a bit before chewing even begins.

Food sensory researchers from The Understanding & Insight Group, a consortium of scientists from the U.S. and New Zealand, break these chewing preferences into four categories. Chewers prefer foods that can be chewed for a long time, like gummy candy. Crunchers prefer foods that respond with a resounding crunch, like potato chips. Suckers prefer foods, like hard candy, that dissolve slowly over time. And smooshers, the laziest of all eaters, prefer soft creamy foods that spread across the mouth with minimal effort – like puddings.

Modelling this turbulent behaviour isn’t easy – traditional imaging devices don’t work so well when the subject is moving – but it’s important. “Where we put food in our mouth will affect our perception of its texture,” says Harrison. The way our mouths interact with foods affects how enjoyable we find different formulations of ingredients. Adults, for example, enjoy a complex textural experience, which is why many chocolate bars come with nuts – the texture just adds a certain something.

Psychorheology is why some people will only drink H2O if it’s sparkling. The taste isn’t any different, but it certainly seems that way, and all because of how a food’s texture impacts a food’s perceived flavour. It also explains why we think gelato tastes creamier although it actually has less fat than ice cream, and why standard chips taste so much better than baked ones—despite the decades scientists have spent tweaking the actual taste time and time again.

And therein lies the ultimate goal of the food scientists: to alter foods’ textures so that the healthy stuff tastes (or at least seems to taste) so much better than it does now.

Texture is an important indicator of a food's fat content. If we can figure out how to trick our tongues into sensing more fat than is actually present in a food, we can increase satiation while decreasing a food’s calorie count. That's why some researchers are finally turning their attention to these taste-making sensations.

Read the full article

Texture is the final frontier of food science

Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture
Japanese scientists probe the mysteries of food texture

Quantifying the unquantifiable

Food companies are watching with keen interest as researchers in Japan delve into the nuts and bolts of sensations like "crispness" and "springiness". Their findings are expected to lead to new and more appetising products.

Taste, aroma and appearance are important factors in determining the appeal of foods, but the finer details of the dining experience are still little understood. The researchers are working to uncover the secrets of food texture by gathering data on "mouthfeel" and the microstructures of various ingredients.

Takashi Nakamura, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, is conducting studies on the springy textures of various kinds of starch.

Each type has its own characteristics. Tapioca, commonly found in bead-shaped form in Asian milk tea drinks, and "waxy cornstarch," used as a thickener in Japanese sweets, are different forms of starch. Their chewiness is similar, but the "waxy" form is easier to bite through, while tapioca has greater elasticity. The experience of eating them is filtered through the senses, so formulating a numerical index presents a challenge.

Quantifying 'crispy' and 'chewy' points the way to new and better products, according to Rimi Inomata of the Nikkei Asian Review.

Click or tap here to Read more

Eating by texture

Eating by texture is a common type of disordered eating.

When it is not indicative of another condition, eating by texture means that an individual has decided to sort his or her food choices by the way that foods feels rather than by how it tastes or if it is required for a balanced diet.

For example, some disordered eaters may choose only foods that require chewing with the thought that this action may burn extra calories.

Other disordered eaters may choose only foods that “squish” in their mouths because they prefer that feeling to foods that “crunch.” While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying some textures over others, if this preference leads to eliminating foods required for healthy eating then it will adversely impact the body and overall health.

To read more of this article, written by Beth Morrisey, please click or tap here...

Eating by texture

Steak bite study could save meat industry millions
Steak bite study could save meat industry millions

Reassessment of meat texture returns dividends

An article in New Food Magazine has revealed that using their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser that mimics the human jaw, Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board experts have shown that cuts of muscle previously used for slow cooking are tender enough to be sold as fast cooking steaks.

Electronic bite testing has shown that the meat industry could save more than £7 million by re-labelling certain cuts of meat. The early trials conducted by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have shown that cuts graded as slower cook are tender enough to be turned into thin cut steaks.

As part of its work to increase carcass value, AHDB experts used their Texture Analyser to measure the force needed to ‘bite’ through a small sample of meat. They found that meat from muscle groups often sold as slow cook, such as chuck, are suitable for quick cook thin steaks – thus increasing their value. Early tests indicate industry could reap more than £5.2 million creating thin cut steaks from chuck and £2.5 million from the leg of mutton cut (LMC). Extensive analysis has also been carried out on beef in the US. AHDB Beef & Lamb has also identified thin cut steaks as a new means to get consumers to eat more beef. 

Mike Whittemore, Head of Trade and Product Development at AHDB, said: “British pride lies in the quality of the beef that’s produced. The ‘bite test’ uses shear force to measure tenderness, meaning that retailers could quantify quality and charge accordingly. It also helps to ensure consistency and boost consumer confidence in beef steak.” The human jaw is so sensitive it can detect a change in tenderness of just 0.5kgs.

Research with UK beef will continue, potentially offering retailers opportunity to label thin cut steaks from good through to premium, on counters across the country. Within the AHDB strategy, a target to increase the value of the English beef category by three per cent has been set. Quality is also identified as a key driver of choice for consumers.

Laura Ryan, AHDB Beef & Lamb Strategy Director, said: “This is a strategic move, allowing the wider meat industry to gain more value and improve quality from every beef carcass. The research offers processors opportunity to move cuts needing to go towards lower price options, into the higher value thin cut steak category, as and when they need.

“Most importantly, thin cut steaks meet consumer needs. Today’s busy lifestyle means people are changing their eating habits and demand ease in cooking meat of any kind. These steaks can be cooked quickly, forming part of a wide range of dishes for lunch or dinner, from stir-fries, to beef salads, to fajitas and steak sandwiches. The cut also commands a price, which both generates greater value for the producer and retailer, but remains affordable for the customer.”

Currently, there are a number of different names for quick cook steaks, including minute, sizzle and frying steaks, which can cause confusion for shoppers. Using consumer research, the name, ‘thin cut steak’ has been tested and proven to be the most effective.

Click or tap here to see the original post...

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