Sophisticated tastes

INCREASING SOPHISTICATED consumer tastes means a willingness to pay a premium for a treat that delivers exceptional quality and flavour.

Food ingredients supplier, Consequently, Macphie of Glenbervie, based in Aberdeen in Scotland, has a team of development chefs, food technologists and marketers working in partnership with customers to transf orm innovative ideas into marketable products.

Speaking on behalf of the company, Karen Scott said: "Historically, value was added to protein by including a sauce. However, the ready-meal

market has evolved and manufacturers are introducing increased numbers of components and speciality ingredients into their products. Ongoing market research and innovation ensures that Macphie offers every customer the latest market information and creative recipe ideas to capitalise on new trends and opportunities."

Under the Macphie brand, the company supplies a range of savoury sauces in one-litre Tetra Paks. These inlcude a White Wine Sauce, Bechamel, Sauce Blanche, Hollandaise and a Sweet and Sour Sauce. "We have just launched a new Red Wine Sauce. This is a ready-to-use, high-quality, smooth sauce that acts as a base for chefs to create their own signature dishes," Ms Scott said.

The company offers customised meal components designed to meet individual product briefs. The range includes smooth and particulated sauces, glazes, stuffings, marinades and flavoured butters.

Ms Scott said provenence of ingredients rather than newness, was increasingly important, especially on food labelling. British food has had a renaissance in recent years and gastro-pub cuisine has become increasingly popular on ready-meal shelves, she said.

There has also been a resurgence of hearty and wholesome British food, for example, Shepherd's Pie and Beef Casserole.

For the future, Macphie is predicting the emergence of other flavour profiles including Australasian (a mix between Asia and Australia), Spanish, Moroccan, Lebanese, North African and Peruvian.

Clean label declarations - for example, no hydrogenated fat, no added flavours, no modified starch, and only using emulsifiers and stabilisers when these had to be used - is absolutely crucial, she said.

"The main challenge for food manufacturers is to create healthy choices that are as appealing as current favourites, without compromising on taste, appearance or quality."

For example, she said Macphie had developed sauces that contain no added salt yet retain their flavour. Ms Scott also made the same claim for the company's range of oil-based marinades, which are low in saturated fats and use no starches or gums.

Stuffings are a popular way of adding texture, flavour and visual appeal. As an alternative to pork mince stuffings, Macphie has created a variety of Mediterranean-inspired healthier options including cous cous, roasted vegetables and polenta-based stuffings. Another new addition is a Red Wine Sauce, made using red wine and veal stock.

Arlene Grant, Macphie category marketing manager, said: "At Macphie, we continually strive to introduce innovative sauces that will make life in the kitchen more convenient and easy.

"Chefs can simply open the pack and use our Red Wine Sauce as a rich base to create a host of tasty winter warmers including boeuf bourgignon, coq au vin, sausages with red wine onion gravy and pork cassoulet."

No place for extras in our brave new healthy world

MAJOR MULTIPLES are steering clear of ingredients which contain hydrogenated vegetable oils, preservatives, or E-numbers, according to UK ingredients company, RAPS. Leila Lawrence, marketing manager at RAPS UK, said supermarkets are now looking for fresh ingredients to be added to products. Other trends have been noticed too. "Five or six years ago, people were using dry-powdered glazes. Now there's more of a move towards marinades and sauces."

Speaking of the benefits of using marinades in new product development, Ms Lawrence says: "Using a marinade will tenderise as it penetrates it. It also gives a beautiful visual - it looks as if it's got a nice gloss - and it helps with the cooking as the meat doesn't lose its natural juices."

RAPS launches a new range of ingredients in March.