Where is the Food Industry Headed with Natural and Organic Products?
While the growth in the availability of natural and organic foods has increased dramatically in recent years, current trends toward higher food prices may stifle this growth. Nonetheless, the natural and organic food segment is expected to increase to a 5-10% share of the total market in the near future (Nutrition Business Journal, 2006). Furthermore, researchers believe that consumers are willing to pay significant premiums for organic and natural foods (Sebranek and Bacus, 2007). The consumer concerns that lead them to purchase organic and natural foods are based on antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, genetic modifications in plants, and animals and chemical additives (Winter and Davis, 2006). While the perceived health benefits of natural and organic foods have been difficult to substantiate, no one can dispute the growth in demand (Campano, 2007).
If you are contemplating developing new products for this market segment, the expertise of John R. White can help with those efforts. The following information may be helpful with those pursuits:
The Food Safety Inspection Service provides the following natural information:
Defined under Food Labeling Division Policy Memo 055, "Natural Claims"
Subject to change with the current development of a proposed rule defining the use of the term "Natural"
All products claiming to be natural or a natural food should be accompanied by a brief statement which explains what is meant by the term natural. This statement should appear directly beneath or beside all natural claims or, if elsewhere on the principal display panel, an asterisk should be used to tie the explanation to the claim: e.g. "*Minimally processed, no artificial ingredients"
Processed meat products are currently being produced with natural curing ingredients and procedures. This process requires a naturally occurring nitrate source, such as plant or vegetable material. Additionally, these products require a natural method to chemically reduce the nitrate to nitrite to react with the meat protein pigments. Generally, a microbial culture is utilized with specific time, temperature, and humidity conditions. The microbial culture also requires a carbohydrate food source, such as natural sugar.
Food ingredients for natural food products are subject to various customer specific requirements, but the following list will provide functionality in most prepared meat and food items where a natural claim is intended:
Cane juice crystals
Native corn starch
Soy protein isolate
Soy protein concentrate
Campano, S.G. 2007. Meat curing, traditional versus natural. Research Chef's Association Workshop. Mississippi State University. August 27, 2007.
Nutrition Business Journal. 2006. NBJ's Organic Foods Report 2006-Summa. http://nbj.stores.yahoo.net/nborfore20.html.
Sebranek, J. and J. Bacus. 2007. Natural and Organic Cured Meat Products: Regulatory, Manufacturing, Marketing, Quality and Safety Issues. American Meat Science Association. White Paper Series; Number 1.
Winter, C.K. and S.F. Davis. 2006. Organic foods. J. Food Sci. 71(9):R117-R124.