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Food Ingredients Case Study: Helping Sun-Maid stay abreast of consumers' trend toward natural foods

Reformulation helps Sun-Maid reintroduce        Non-GMO Project Verified snacks with natural flavors.

The consumer trend toward natural foods continues to gain momentum. The number of shoppers shunning genetically modified foods has tripled over the past decade, according to the Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. Today, the trend can be considered mainstream. As reported in Food Business News (2019), 46% of consumers surveyed last year saying they “actively avoid” bioengineered ingredients. When asked what food claims they consider when choosing what to eat by Linkage Research and Consulting in their “Free From Forum Market Monitor” survey, 35% of consumers said “non-GMO” was most important.

Sun-Maid was working to reformulate a line of sour raisin snacks to meet consumer demand for natural and non-GMO food options. For their raisin snacks to qualify as free from artifical flavors, the team at Sun-Maid needed to replace the product’s current acidulant, malic acid, with a more natural option. While malic acid can occur naturally, it is produced commercially via a synthetic process. Sun-Maid’s R&D group turned to Bo Li, an Application Development Specialist for Food Ingredients at Univar Solutions, for help.

Bo and the Sun-Maid team identified citric acid as the potential solution. Citric acidis produced by the fermentation of agricultural products like corn and sugar caneand is considered natural. Working closely during the formulation process and testing, the teams produced four updated versions of Sour Raisins. By specifying citric acid that was Non-GMO Project Verified, all four flavors, strawberry, mixed berry, watermelon, and grape, carry both claims of no artificial flavors and non-GMO. Consumers have noticed the new formulations, as sales for the new formulations have outpaced that of the previous products.

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  • Sun-Maid needed to reformulate its Sour Raisin snacks to meet consumer demand for non-GMO foods with natural flavors.
  • Reformulate the product to replace malic acid with a new acidulant, citric acid.
  • All four Sour Raisin Snacks now contain no artifi cal flavors and are Non-GMO Project Verified, and sales have increased over that of the previous formulations.
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