Some of the major food trends seen in the food industry recently include gluten free, low salt, the gastrointestinal microbiome and “veganism”. Ingredients supporting all of these themes, and more, were placed under the spotlight at this year’s Food Matters Live event (ExCel, London 19-20 November, 2019).
Various gluten-free biscuits, cookies, energy bars and cakes were on show in the exhibition hall, and Tritordeum, a new natural cereal created by crossing durum wheat with wild barley, was discussed in an interesting talk. Compared to conventional wheat, Tritordeum has a lower content of gliadins (the cereal proteins largely responsible for gluten intolerance) and a healthier fatty acid profile.
The challenge of reducing dietary sodium intake from foods was the focus of another talk. Research suggests that increased potassium and magnesium intake can be as beneficial for blood pressure as reducing sodium intake, and new products containing potassium and mineral salts were proposed as alternatives to table salt.
The trillions of microorganisms living in the lower gastrointestinal tract – the gut microbiome – make up 1-2 kg of body weight. These microorganisms are able to ferment fibre from the diet and convert it into short chain fatty acids that have a significant impact on wellbeing, including cardiovascular health. The UK recommended daily intake of dietary fibre is 30 g, but most people actually consume less than 17 g a day. It’s quite difficult to increase dietary fibre intake without eating tediously large quantities of high fibre foods, such as apples or wholemeal bread. To get round this, researchers have developed an ingredient consisting of an inulin-propionate ester that can considerably increase levels of one important short chain fatty acid in the gut. Another group of researchers have carried out breeding experiments and come up with variants of peas with an increased fibre content.
As mentioned above, vegan foods were another big theme, with plant proteins as meat replacers taking centre stage. Talks were given on the types of plant proteins being used as ingredients, as well as the legal complexities that can arise when trying to market non-meat products using meat-type words, i.e. when is a sausage not a sausage? There were plenty of opportunities to try samples of vegan foods in the exhibition hall. I enjoyed a tempeh burger featuring legume protein as an ingredient. However, I felt that vegan gluten-free pizza was let down by the non-dairy cheese topping, which had a strange mouthfeel.
All in all, Food Matters Live 2019 was a fascinating and informative event, with lots of ingredients to consider and samples to try.