CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, U.S. — The shifting landscape for specialty ingredients in baking was evident at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo in numerous products highlighted by a top executive of Ingredion, Inc.

Ingredients that facilitate gluten-free and GMO-free claims together with clean labels and added protein were among trends highlighted by James P. Zallie, executive vice-president, Global Specialties, and president, North America and EMEA.

Zallie spoke with World Grain’s sister publication Milling & Baking News July 12 at the IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Ingredion’s ability to offers solutions for companies looking for gluten-free alternatives in baking was enhanced by the acquisition of Penford Corp. earlier in 2015, Zallie said. Penford’s line of potato-starch based products complements Ingredion’s existing starch line made from corn, waxy maize, tapioca corn.

“Gluten-free baking is a huge area of focus for us, and has been for Penford,” he said. “We have a whole line of PrecisA Bake products for gluten-free applications.”

PRECISA Bake is described by Ingredion as an off-white to cream colored powder that is in gluten-free food products, generally as a “drop-in” substitute for wheat flour. The company said it eliminates “common undesirable traits of gluten-free products such as grittiness and crumbliness.”

At the same time food companies may be avoiding wheat flour, for gluten-free products, in some cases they are embracing the term flour for clean label products, Zallie said. He said efforts to satisfy requirements for simpler labels have been a priority at Ingredion for several years.

“We’ve been doing that in clean label for more than five years, focused on consumer insights, what’s next, where are label trends going,” he said. “Some customers have wanted to go so far as to have a flour labeling rather than starch. We have specialty flours that texturize as well. Our HomeCraft line of products for example. That has been ahead of the curve in catering to simpler labels and natural, wholesome offerings. The line includes flour made from ingredients such as tapioca and pulses.”

As an example, he said a manufacturer may be looking to replace modified food starch or hydrocolloids with corn flour or tapioca flour. He cited sauces, soup, gravy, dressing and dairy-based products as possible applications.

The company also positioned itself well for the growth in demand for non-bioengineered products, Zallie said.

“I think we have been situated very well, since in 2004 we instituted an identity preserved, non-GMO process for our specialty starches out of our Indianapolis plant,” he said. “So we aim to conduct a very robust process that is both identity-preserved and non-GM."

“That has enabled us to broaden into non GM sweeteners as well, such as corn syrup and dextrose. That is growing in confectionery, so we’re providing choice for our customers who want non-GM as well as products that don’t need to be non-GM.”

Zallie said a move by Ingredion into pulse-based products taps into a number of key trends, including gluten-free products and snacks containing elevated levels of protein. Branded Vitessence, the company offers pulse protein concentrates derived from peas, lentils and faba beans. Ingredion entered the pulse market through a partnership with Alliance Grain Traders, Zallie said.