Grüninger AG, Switzerland’s leading producer of industrial and commercial margarines, has developed a new technology to produce palm-free, vegan and vegetarian margarines in which any off-note flavours are effectively taste masked. At the heart of the process is a natural rosemary extract-derived antioxidant that extends the products’ shelf-life and increases heat stability during baking. Employed to overcome common hurdles that arise when replacing solid palm fat with alternative oils, the neutralised fats are subsequently custom-flavoured to match specific applications. In addition to stabilising the flavour of margarines, as well as vegetable and animal oils and fats, a key benefit is an optimised mouthfeel.
Among both consumers and industry, healthy vegetable fats are currently in high demand. At the same time, the acceptability of products containing palm oil is declining. However, widespread palm alternatives such as rapeseed oil bring notable challenges, including intense organoleptic properties, high oxidation potential and individual processing requirements. Grüninger’s new process is of particular interest to bakery and confectionery manufacturers because it offers advantages from factory to fork.
First, any oxidation-labile fatty acids are stabilised during refining and crystallisation with the help of a natural antioxidant. This both significantly extends the shelf-life of the end product and prevents the occurrence of heat-induced off-flavours that can arise during baking. By adding special masking flavours to the fat phase, any undesirable flavours are masked in a second step before the desired top note is integrated into the structure during the precisely controlled crystallisation stage.
In addition to natural butter and vanilla notes, possible flavours include creamy-milky, fresh-sour and/or neutral-slightly sweet, as well as lightly roasted, nutty notes. The flavour matrix of each margarine or shortening/lard is customised for industrial customers and own brands, which Grüninger produces as well as private-label articles. It’s also possible to modify the taste of soft margarines, sandwich spreads and a wide range of special fats for industrial or commercial bakers.
The products flavoured with the help of the new process reconcile consumer wishes with industry requirements: “Fat is one of the most important flavour carriers, which has a decisive influence on the market success of the end product,” says Michel Burla, Managing Director of Grüninger. “In addition to flavouring, we rely on cooling drum technology to optimise the plasticity of the products, which is especially important when dispensing with structure-giving solid palm fat.”