Nigay eyes opportunities in colors & flavors, taps into reduced-sugar and clean label trends

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25 Jun 2018 --- Caramels are increasingly popular across several of the top market categories. Typically applied in ice creams, dairy products, chocolates, variations of caramel such as salted caramel, have become popular and according to Innova Market Insights data, there has been a 17 percent increase in food & beverage launches tracked with caramels (CAGR 2013-2017). In keeping up with this demand, a French leader in caramels, Nigay, is expanding its caramel offerings and tailoring their solutions to complement the current market trends.

FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with Philippe Alloing, Export Manager, at Nigay, who firstly, highlighted the growing demand for caramel. “There is an abundance of opportunities in the space of caramel. We offer aromatic caramels, caramel colors, burnt sugars and also a range of caramel specialties in many forms (liquid, paste, powder and caramel pieces). Globally, we have experienced a growth of around 10 percent, and from that, we have seen significant growth in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America,” he says. 

Nowadays, there is a more significant demand for low sugar and reduced sugar caramels, according to Alloing. “We have also developed allergen-free and vegan caramels for these fast-growing markets. We have reformulated some of our range to suit these trends, offering new depths and flavors to meet the special types of needs we are seeing from today’s consumers.”

There is a lot of crossover concerning a lot of trends coming in from Europe, the US and interestingly Asia. 

On the innovation side, Nigay is developing more caramel variations from cane sugar and natural sugar sources. “This answers the needs for clean and clear labeling,” states Alloing. “Cane is seen as closer to nature when compared to sugar beet, glucose and fructose. We source all of our cane from countries in the south, where it grows profusely.”

Since the year 2000, Alloing notes that there has been an increased interest in organic and fairtrade caramels, which he believes is because consumers see these as more clean and clear ways of consumption. 

“Also legislation in Europe and the US has made things more clear for producers, regarding organic and fairtrade,” he adds. 

For Alloing, it is important to use ingredients that are as close to nature as possible. “We use mostly sugars from beet, from cane, wheat and maize,” he states. “We have a range with added health benefits and we try to keep the formulations as natural & simple as possible.”

“When we develop new products, we keep the ingredient in mind and we also work on new creations that fit with the needs of the market. In recent cases, we have been able to reformulate some of our caramel fillings or syrups. We want to show the high fiber content and less saturated fat content. Of course, people want less sugar and that is what we want to be able to support,” Alloing explains. 

There is a more significant demand for sugar-reduced products, although there are connotations with caramel that it is a sweet flavor. Alloing says there has always been a considerable demand for caramel Click to Enlargecolors, and it is “quite stable.”

But also for colors, caramel presents lots of opportunities. “We have a range of about 100 caramels for coloring. From reddish browns, orange browns, black-brown, gray-brown, to name a few.”

Burnt sugars are very special – they are between caramelized sugars and caramel colorings,” Alloing continues, “They are be used for both taste and color.” 

One of Nigay’s recent innovations is its caramelized sugar powder WS 100. It is said to give a high color and a sweet taste to your products (color intensity: 20,000 EBC). 

“We have come up with a 100 percent caramelized sugar powder with absolutely no carrier. Meaning we have removed maltodextrin from the ingredients list only to keep sugar. WS 100 is a dark brown powder which can be used for many applications: soups, bread, sauces, coffee, tea and has a shelf-life of two years. This clear and clean labeling innovation with no additive joins our line of caramel powders. Allergen-free, GMO-free, gluten free, wheat free, halal, kosher, this powder is also suitable for vegans. And to better suit the needs of the market, we have also developed an organic version.” 

“It is unique on the market and already launched – it took some years to develop,” he explains. 

For Alloing, the sustainable sourcing of ingredients is a top priority for Nigay and also why organic and fair trade are growing well, too. 

Looking ahead, Nigay has their eyes firmly set on expansion outside of France and an increased production capacity for caramel. “We currently have agents, distributors and partners in every country outside of France, and the second production plant will start in March next year.”

Last summer, Nigay announced its plans for a three-year investment program of €20 million (US$23.1 million) to create its second production site. The industrial unit is situated in the heart of a transformation area of agricultural raw materials used for the manufacture of its products (sucrose extracted from sugar beet and glucose syrups made from wheat and maize starch). You can read the full story here.

“It is going to be in in the north of Europe, in the middle of raw material district and close to most European seaports,” Alloing notes. 

“We will start with relatively large volumes and then afterward we will see if we can expand to other special types of caramels,” he adds. 

Elsewhere in the business, Nigay received accreditation for energy: “Our latest certification was ISO 50001 for energy and we are now working on wellbeing at work for our employees.” 

The well-being at work highlights includes participative management, breakfast with Directors, survey, safety and health days for employees, ERP groups, sports activities and “vis mon job” program, according to Alloing. 

“It is quite new in Europe, and there are a few companies that already do it on Canada, for example,” he concludes.

By Elizabeth Green

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