Fruit fillings: Puratos highlights growing need for natural ingredients

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11 Apr 2018 --- Consumer demand for natural products is increasing continually. The latest “Taste Tomorrow” survey, from Puratos, has revealed a distinct consumer preference for fruit because it is both natural and tasty. Not only did the Taste Tomorrow survey reveal a preference for fruit on the part of the consumer and the customers; demand for cleaner label products was also clearly expressed, including products without artificial preservatives, colorings and flavorings.

Also within fruit fillings, consumers are increasingly looking for more naturalness. In Fruit Fillings this means that consumers want to see that there is fruit in the pastry item they eat. They want more fruit and bigger pieces. Consumers want to know where the ingredients in finished goods are coming from. The field-to-fork journey becomes of greater importance; there is a focus on authentic flavors in fruit fillings.

Jo Libens is the Global Category Manager responsible for all Puratos fruit fillings, and he has noticed this trend driving developments in the bakery sector: “Both the consumer and our customers are increasingly looking for more naturalness in their fillings. They want more fruit and bigger pieces, but combined with a high baking stability to enable them to use the fruit as a filling for croissants and Danish pastries.”

Click to Enlarge
Jo Libens, the Global Category Manager
for Fruit Fillings at Puratos

“This is a clear, retail-driven trend in the industry. Process innovation is crucial if you want to do this well. Based on these insights, we installed a new production line that makes it possible to produce fillings without artificial additives, while preserving the identity and flavor of the fruit,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Puratos offers two fruit fillings: Topfil and Vivafil. Topfil contains up to 90 percent fruit, in larger pieces, which is primarily intended for pastries where the fruit is on top, like on cheesecakes or Danish pastries. Vivafil, on the other hand, is the best alternative when a high level of baking stability is required: as a fruit filling for croissants, for example.

“The texture of the filling can also be adapted to the customer’s wishes: coarser pieces of fruit for a natural fruit filling, or completely smooth if the customer wishes to inject the filling,” Libens states.

More naturalness translates in demand for fruit fillings with bigger pieces and higher fruit content, according to Libens. “Our Topfil contains up to 90 percent fruit pieces. To deal with this trend, sourcing expertise to select the best fruits and process innovation to preserve the naturalness of the fruits from the field to the fork are key.”

“Our fruit fillings are unique because we put naturalness first throughout the entire process,” he notes. “It is a long journey before an apple is ready to be processed as a fruit filling in a pastry, for example. From tree to bakery, this process and Puratos’ focus on naturalness starts with the selection of the apples: Puratos uses Jonagold apples in its apple fillings, a variety to which fewer sweeteners need to be added thanks to its natural sweetness. All apples are carefully inspected upon delivery to ensure the taste and color are compliant as well as the sugar and acidic composition. These measurements are of crucial importance. In some cases, the recipe will need to be adjusted for each harvest.”

Two transformations are needed to turn apples into a filling.
Transformation 1:
The fruit is processed into another raw material directly after harvesting.

Transformation 2: Adding ingredients and pasteurization. The raw material is now a ready-to-use fruit filling for bakery and patisserie applications.

Also, we see a growing demand for authenticity in recipes (such as Grandma’s apple pie) and this also reflects on fillings. Fruit fillings that can be related to authenticity and origin are popular such as Belgian apples, wild blueberries from Latvia and Italian apricot, Libens says.

“Global presence helps to pick up some trends across the world and launch them globally. A good example of this is our Topfil Apple based on the French classic Tart Tatin, and our black cherry filling, which derives its inspiration from the gateau Basque, an authentic recipe from the Basque country,” he adds.

Local production and purchase
Puratos consciously opts for local production, near local customers and consumers. “We operate more sustainably on account of the short distances between sourcing, production and the customer. Thanks to regional sourcing and processing you can also adapt the flavor profile to the demands of local consumers. Additionally, we also take into account local specialties which we can roll out worldwide thanks to our glocal presence.”

Unique production method
The production method used by Puratos for its fillings is unique. “Contrary to the production method used for traditional jams, in which a great deal of sugar is added and the fruit is simmered for a long time to thoroughly pasteurize it and to prevent post-contamination, the production method we use for our fruit fillings is aimed at heating it, allowing it to cool and package it as quickly as possible. We mix everything as gently as possible to retain the natural texture of the fruit. We aim to guarantee that the filling remains as natural as possible in everything we do,” explains Libens.

Click to EnlargeNew flavor combinations are also on the trend, according to Libens, such as Apple combined with Chia seeds, Caramelized Apple, Strawberry with Honey, Cherry with Star Anis.

“Also more exotic fruit flavors are conquering the world, such as Ube (also known as purple jam). In the Philippines we have already launched an ‘Ube’ fruit filling,” he adds. 

“Regarding innovation, and as a long-term business strategy, we want to respond to cleaner label demands,” Libens continues, “And we installed a new production line that makes it possible to produce fillings without artificial additives while preserving the identity and flavor of the fruit.”

There are many opportunities in the healthy snacking business for fruit fillings and some of these include wholegrain bar (nuts and fruits), filled donuts, muffins, soft brioche and crepes.

By Elizabeth Green

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