Israeli food-tech DouxMatok lands US$22 million in funding for sugar-reduction solution

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Israeli food-tech company DouxMatok has secured US$22 million in a series B funding round for its sugar reduction solution that enables a reduction of “sugar with sugar.” By increasing the efficiency of sugar delivery to the tongue’s sweet taste receptors, the technology allows food products to be made with 40 percent less sugar without compromising taste, mouthfeel or texture. The investment hopes to allow DouxMatok to scale up its “breakthrough technological platform” globally, as well as explore the technology’s applicability to other flavor profiles, such as salt.

Eran Baniel, DouxMatok CEO and Co-Founder tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “The funding round seeks to support the company’s vision to provide efficient flavor delivery without compromising taste through five key pillars:”

  • Faster scale-up to get more sugars available for NPDs and launch product sales in Europe and North America.
  • Further support food product developments and provide more scalable recipe re-balancing services and advance expertise in new food applications. This includes building of state-of-the-art application labs in the relevant markets.
  • Accelerate research and development to optimize sugar reduction and broaden the company’s offerings, addressing key consumer needs.
  • Launch new marketing campaign.
  • Apply the proprietary flavor delivery technology to other flavor profiles such as salt.

“The task of providing a sugar reduction solution is not only important for the consumer, but also for food corporations that rely on sugar to create the world’s top-selling products. We’re looking forward to supporting DouxMarok’s team in scaling their breakthrough technological platform globally, the only one that enables a reduction of sugar with sugar,” says Yishai Klein, Managing Partner of BlueRed Partners, a fund concentrated on investing in “disruptive, early and growth-stage technology” companies and Series B lead investor.

“We now have the opportunity to speed up commercialization so that we can lead the quest for reducing added sugars while providing consumers with the tastes they love and want. Our new and existing investors make it possible for the company to speed up growth so as to meet the huge market demand we’re experiencing,” says Baniel.

Led by Singapore based BlueRed Partners, the funding round includes strategic investors, such as Südzucker AG, Europe’s largest sugar company; Royal DSM, a multinational active in science-based nutrition; and Singha Ventures, a corporate venture fund of Singha Corporation, a Thai food & beverage conglomerate. Existing shareholders Pitango Venture Capital and Jerusalem Venture Partners, as well as new investors BtoV Partners, OurCrowd, and La Maison have also participated in the round.

A technology that reduces “sugar with sugar”
Twenty patents have been granted for DouxMatok’s technology and product development took over six years. The R&D team has included scientists with specializations spanning material sciences, organic and green chemistry, sensory sciences, drug delivery and food science. Foods made with DouxMatok sugars were found to be perceived as sweet as a full sugar reference, as well as being often being preferred in blind tastings in terms of both preference and purchase intention.

Baniel continues, “the biggest challenge – and opportunity – is to rebalance recipes so that the removed sugars are replaced by nutritional fibers and/or proteins, in order to complement the reduction of sugars with added nutritional values.”

DouxMatok’s approach is to not disrupt the industry or the consumer. Our technology will allow the industry to continue to make the same indulgent products, with the same taste, and 40 percent less sugar, while consumers will not need to change their habits – everyone will benefit from a much improved nutritional profile.”

A large-scale production and sales of the product are enabled by the funding, as the company commercializes in Europe and then North America and Asia. DouxMatok sugar is expected to be available in initial commercial quantities in the last quarter of 2019, following joint industrial manufacturing with Südzucker AG. Additionally, DouxMatok is currently engaging in various collaborations with multiple food companies in order to reformulate popular products to have reduced sugar quantities.

“We’ve successfully completed butter biscuits and white cake during European Institute of Innovation and Technology based projects with several leading European companies and Reading University,” says Baniel.

The sugar is DouxMatok’s first product developed under its proprietary efficient flavor delivery platform, and the company intends to expand the platform to include further ingredients and flavors, including salt.

“So far, we have selectively focused our efforts on baked goods, such as biscuits and cakes; chocolate; spreads; sugar confectionery, like gummies; and cereal bars,” the company says.

Sugar reduction continues to drive NPD 
This funding comes at a time when consumers are increasingly interested in reducing the level of sugar in their diets. According to an Innova Consumer Lifestyle and Attitudes Survey (2018), nearly seven out of ten consumers across the countries surveyed (US, UK, France, Germany, China and Brazil) have reduced their sugar intake. This is particularly so among the over 55 age group, with consumers in France and Brazil most likely to be reducing sugar in their diet.

“The global need to reduce sugar intake for health and lifestyle reasons is one of the most pressing issues faced by food manufacturers. Pressure from governments, medical bodies and consumers to reduce public sugar intake is at an all-time high, with obesity, diabetes and heart disease on the rise. Increasingly health-savvy customers have largely rejected the current artificial sugar substitutes, and the food industry needs a natural product that can improve the healthiness of their much-loved existing recipes without compromising on flavor or texture,” Baniel notes.

“I’ve read publications trying to claim that sugars are the new tobacco. Nothing could be less true than this; nature thrives on sugar chains, as do plants. Sugar is energy, mouthfeel, a color – a world with no sugar is not realistic. Resisting the temptation to consume too much of it is what we at DouxMatok succeed in doing,” they conclude.



Achieving greater efficiency in cookies

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Cookies remain one of the most profitable items in the retail bakery business, and automated depositing is paving the way for even greater efficiencies.

In one recent example, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, a 17-store operator based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is installing a 1,400-square-foot freezer at its central plant in nearby Clinton, Mich., to assist in the conversion to automated depositing.

Kelley Maynard, central kitchen manager, explained that Busch’s supermarkets currently order muffins, cookies and other sweet goods every other day from the central bakery. Once the freezer and a new Hinds-Bock depositor are installed this year, complementing the plant’s existing Vemag cookie depositor, the central bakery will shift to portioning almost all doughs and batters by machine. The expansive freezer will be used to hold cookie doughs, portioned muffins, sweet bread, brownies and cakes. Such added efficiency will lead to greater selection for stores. As always, products will be baked fresh to order.

“Our stores will be able to order anything they want any day of the week,” Ms. Maynard said. “We are hoping to expand our offerings and be more efficient. Bakery is very important to Busch’s as a company.”

Retail bakeries that produce good volume in cookies can benefit from a valuable lesson here. It will save time and valuable labor to automate where you can — scooping doughs and freezing cookie doughs to use as needed in the future — so that you bring greater efficiency and profitability into your bakery production process.

Cakes and sweet goods play an equally integral role to the success of Busch’s central bakery. The push is on to improve efficiency and create a more tailored mix of varieties and sizes that match more closely with demand.

“At one point, we had a very large selection of cakes: 6-inch to 12-inch, rounds and squares, one-eighth sheet to full sheet,” Ms. Maynard said. “Now we are focusing on more popular sizes. We began a 5-inch baby cake that has been hugely successful. Smaller sizes sell better today.”

Having a more efficient cake production system, in fact, provides Busch’s with a distinct advantage because producing more small cakes at a time adds efficiency and lowers production costs, enabling Busch’s to offer better deals on premium quality cakes than the competition. Ms. Maynard said quarter-sheet cakes probably represent Busch’s highest volume of cake sales, along with 8-inch rounds. Carrot cakes remain a top variety.

“We’ve made carrot cake forever, and they are one of our biggest sellers,” she said. “We offer carrot cakes in baby, 8-inch and other sizes. They all sell really well. People love a good classic item.”

Along the same lines, blueberry is a mainstay of their muffin program, accounting for double the sales of any other variety. Busch’s makes 4-oz muffins in other flavors such as chocolate chip, cranberry orange, apple cinnamon and lemon poppyseed. The central bakery typically makes five to six muffin varieties at a time, including seasonal flavors.

Their scratch-made cookie program (made with U.S. Grade AA butter) includes two lines: 12-count packages of 1-oz cookies in multiple varieties (chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, etc.) and 6-count packages of 2-oz gourmet cookies in varieties such as salted caramel, oatmeal overload, and chocolate Andes mint.

“For now, we are hand scooping the 6-count cookie doughs,” Ms. Maynard said. “With the new freezer, we could run them through the Vemag and eliminate hand scooping and make us more efficient.”

And as consumer demand shifts, especially with smaller household sizes and more people treating themselves to small indulgences while shopping the bakery department, Ms. Maynard said the timing is right to adapt to changing times. In the end, Busch’s will be even more successful, she believes.

“I think there is definitely a trend toward smaller portions, and everything we’ve done on a smaller scale has been more successful,” she said. “I think people are more apt to make an impulse buy than in the past. They can pick up a baby cake for $5.99. It’s more of an impulse buy that is not an excessive amount of cake and it’s not going to hurt their pocketbook.”

In the end, improved efficiency at the production facility leads to keeping retail prices from going up.

“We are hoping to build more efficiencies to lower retails to our guests,” Ms. Maynard said. “We are so excited about what we have coming.”



A driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

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Global pizza purveyor Domino’s is planning to use self-driving pods to deliver its cheesy meals to hungry customers.

The food company is partnering with California-based tech startup Nuro for a trial service in Houston, Texas later this year.

Nuro has been gaining attention since its creation in 2016 by Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, both former members of Google’s autonomous-car team, now called Waymo. Earlier this year, the startup received funding of almost $1 billion from Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank. The interest has a lot to do with the design of its nifty-looking autonomous delivery pod. The driverless vehicle, a newer version of which will be used by Domino’s, is already being tested in a trial service in Scottsdale, Arizona, delivering Kroger groceries to customers’ homes.

Domino’s customers keen to have a driverless pod roll up outside their door can opt in to the special delivery service when they place their pizza order online. The pod’s progress can be tracked in the Domino’s app, which will also provide a unique PIN code to unlock a compartment in the pod so customers can take their pizza.

Domino’s has already partnered with Ford for trial pizza delivery services in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Miami, Florida, with the car giant using Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicles modified by driverless tech company Argo, which the automaker acquired in 2017.

Nuro’s pod is markedly different from Ford’s self-driving vehicle as it has been custom built and has no space for a human safety driver. Instead, for the trial period at least, a Nuro engineer will follow the pod in another vehicle traveling close behind.

“We are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve the delivery experience for our customers,” Kevin Vasconi, Domino’s executive vice president and chief information officer, said in a release. “Nuro’s vehicles are specially designed to optimize the food delivery experience … The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing.”

Commenting on the partnership, Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partner relations, said: “We see incredible opportunity in offering Nuro’s world-class autonomous technology to Domino’s customers, accelerating our shared mission to transform local commerce.”

But it’s not yet clear what people really think of meal-delivering autonomous vehicles, though the trials will of course encourage customer feedback. After all, with this type of service, the customer has to leave their home and head to the roadside to collect the pizza from the vehicle instead of receiving it from the delivery person at the front door. Also, the Nuro has a top speed of just 25 mph, suggesting that a human delivery driver would be able to reach the delivery address more quickly. As the technology develops, however, driverless vehicles are expected to increase their top speed.

Meal delivery using drones seems like a far quicker — not to mention cooler — way to receive your dinner, but such a system still faces a slew of regulatory hurdles.



Energy Efficiency in the Baking Plant

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The process of baking inevitably consumes a lot of energy, but it also presents a number of opportunities to streamline energy usage, including the use of improved components, adoption of efficient processes, and setting up of state-of-the-art baking facilities.

Steps to Savings

The Carbon Trust is an independent, expert partner of leading companies around the world, helping them contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficiency strategies and commercializing low carbon technologies. Paul McKinney, senior manager – technology programs, shared with us the organization’s expertise into stepping up energy efficiency. “We would always encourage investing in sub-metering, in order to more accurately determine benchmarks, identify deviations in energy use and monitor the impact of energy saving projects.” In order to estimate costs for improvements and energy savings, the starting point is to ensure that you have good sub-metering, to precisely determine current consumption. This should provide equipment suppliers with valuable data to be able to estimate the potential savings that could be made through equipment upgrade or replacement.

There can be a lack of monitoring to determine where energy consumption is high, which is common with many industrial processes. Gas consumption of the boiler may be measured, but direct steam metering is less common. Monitoring of gas consumption by individual ovens also may not be carried out. Furthermore, electricity may only be monitored for the site or general site areas.

According to the study completed by the Carbon Trust in 2015, savings of 4.7% for bread ovens are possible by linking variable flue gas speed drives with combustion control. These savings can be significant when the costs for operating an industrial bread oven are calculated. A typical oven will cost over GBP300,000 in gas to operate each year, so 4.7% represents GBP14,000 in annual savings.

Large quantities of energy are lost through oven flues and exhausts. He adds, “However, heat recovery in bakeries is not commonplace. Previous attempts have caused problems with contamination of the heat exchanger, and problems with the performance of the heat exchanger (recovering sufficient heat). It can also be difficult to match the production of waste heat with the potential for using it. However, heat recovery is an important energy saving technique and should continue to be re-evaluated.” In the UK, there is a support program for this, run by the government – IHRS.

Another factor to consider when evaluating the oven’s efficiency is the use of tins. Usually made of steel, they are a significant source of energy losses. Tins have to be heated to the oven operating temperature during baking and cooled again before a new dough piece is added. Typically, the ratio of steel to bread passing through a bread baking oven is 2:1. The losses per loaf are the same for a direct and indirect oven, but for direct-fired ovens, the absolute percentage loss is higher because the ovens are more efficient.

Furthermore, combustion conditions are often not monitored other than during burner servicing. “Burners are often set-up to ensure reliable oven operation and good product quality. Significant savings on flue gas heat losses could be made by optimizing the burners for good energy efficiency and reducing the excess air levels.

A certain amount of excess air is required to maintain good combustion while minimizing flue losses. Improving and sustaining improvements to combustion conditions can be delivered by regularly servicing the burners. Of course, safe operation of the oven is paramount and any controls need to be fail-safe so that burner control does not result in dangerous operation.

It has been estimated that gas savings of up to 10% of can be made for an indirect oven by reducing the levels of excess air during combustion.

A checklist for further improvements:

  • Ensure that ovens are regularly inspected. Check for worn or broken oven seals or damaged insulation, both of which lead to wasted heat energy and ensure repairs are carried out promptly. Encourage employees to look for signs of inefficient ovens, such as hot air blowing out of the oven ends. Instances should be reported straight away and maintenance checks made.
  • Maintenance is also important for ancillary services such as compressed air and motors: ensure maintenance is carried out regularly and follow the manufacturer’s documentation for the recommended maintenance schedule. For compressed air, maintenance routines should include lubrication, oil changes, and filter replacement. A well-maintained compressor can be 10% more efficient than one that is poorly maintained.
  • For motors, regular maintenance can reduce energy consumption by as much as 7%. Maintenance programs should consist of lubrication schedules, cleaning, belt tensioning and alignment checks. It is also worth considering using predictive maintenance techniques and software that can indicate in advance when parts will need replacing.

An Industry Analysis

Automation has emerged as an important development in this context. By reducing human contact with the baking process, it aims to reduce the chances of contamination, which, in turn, could enhance the production process. Waste control is another focus area for equipment manufacturers. The failure of equipment to run efficiently could generate wastage in the form of overbaked or underbaked products and thereby affect the overall production capacity of a commercial bakery. The adoption of enhanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) has further enhanced production processes; the use of these technologies aims to reduce human intervention in the production processes in bakeries, and thereby reduce operational costs and increase productivity. Robotics has emerged as a plausible solution to some of the challenges being faced by bakeries today, especially in commercial bakeries that require remote monitoring of operations.

Also, some bakeries are adopting measures and modifying their equipment to comply with their energy-saving goals. For instance, pre-heating the air used in gas burners from approximately 77°F to 284°F helps in the recovery of more than half of the energy lost in the exhaust flue to ensure reduced gas consumption and a smaller carbon footprint. Also, some new bakeries are installing heat recovery modules with complete insulation by using stainless steel outer panels. Such insulation systems can also be retrofitted in old bakeries. This measure can save 112kW-115kW of energy and can result in major cost savings for the concerned bakeries.

Technology is Key

For energy efficiency, bakeries need to focus on acquiring real-time insights into the working of baking equipment. This factor is encouraging bakeries to invest in advanced technology. Ritesh Kumar, senior industry analyst, Technavio, shared with us the example of Bretzel Bakery, a Dublin-based artisan bakery that has invested in IoT to help it reduce energy consumption: “IoT helps to capture real-time data through sensors and uses cloud-based analytics to gain critical insights. A vast magnitude of data are captured every week to help the company identify areas of improvement that include the most economical way to use gas or electric ovens. Through these insights, the company is able to keep track of costs related to daily energy consumption.”

Environmental concerns and strict government regulations are prompting manufacturers in the baking industry, among other manufacturers in the food and beverages industry, to focus on sustainable energy practices. For instance, waste heat can be reused through various heat recovery systems, that convert exhaust heat to hot water, for other activities such as cleaning, according to Technavio’s analyst.

In addition, equipment maintenance is essential to energy efficiency. Periodic maintenance includes regular cleaning to prevent contamination of the products being processed and prevent bacterial growth. “Bakeries are also advised to conduct preventive maintenance activities to identify worn out parts to prevent a complete breakdown. Training the staff to use equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines is also a part of preventive maintenance,” added Kumar.

Trends in Energy-efficient Technology

In large bakeries, the oven is the major consumer of energy, followed by the prover, cooler and steam boiler. Together, they account for more than half of energy consumption and carbon emissions in a bakery, Technavio highlighted. “Ethanol, a volatile organic compound (VOC), is the primary emission from bakeries and is produced when dough is exposed to high temperatures in an oven. It is converted to smog when it comes in contact with other VOCs.”

With energy efficiency as the need of the hour, manufacturers are adopting practices that could take them closer to their goals of environmental sustainability. Some of these practices include improving the insulation of production plants, bringing down the amount of ambient air entering dispatch areas, ensuring variable speed drives on bakery ventilation systems, and reducing the leakage of compressed air. They are also adopting measures such as the periodic shutdown of major plants that include ovens, coolers, and conveyors periodically, the specialist observed.

The best practices also involve the adoption of technology that can ensure energy efficiency. “For instance, one of the most important components in the manufacture of bread is moisture,” he added. “A conventional bread fermentation chamber works with steam, where the conversion of water into steam consumes a significant amount of energy and also affects the quality of the bread produced.

  • Bakeries across the globe are increasingly adopting ultrasound humidification technology to bake bread; it helps to reduce energy consumption and also maintains the quality of the bread. During this baking process, the humidity of the bread fermentation chamber is modified to match the humidity of the dough being baked—doing so prevents the dough from losing moisture. In this way, the use of ultrasound humidification technology helps to overcome the shortcomings of conventional technologies, primarily energy loss, and also helps in maintaining the consistency of the product created.”
  • Infrared ovens are being adopted by commercial bakeries worldwide. These ovens use ceramic plates heated by flames or electric coil to heat or generate infrared energy and transmit it to the surface of the product being baked, but without heating the ambient air. These ovens are 50%-80% more efficient than conventional ovens, he explained, as the baking process does not heat up large volumes of air. Also, they help to cut down on baking time by nearly half. “For instance, an infrared oven can bake bread in nearly six minutes compared with the 17 minutes in a conventional baking oven. Also, the power level initially at 100% can be reduced to 30%-50% during the second and third stage of baking. Thus, the use of infrared ovens reduces both overall energy consumption and baking time to provide more efficiency to a baking plant.”
  • Reflective coatings that contain high-emissivity ceramic materials are also finding increased used among bakeries. These coatings are being used on pans or on the interior walls of ovens and burners; they can absorb heat and reflect it back in the form of infrared energy waves. By doing so, these coatings can reduce emissions and fuel consumption and thereby cost of operations. In the long run, reflective coatings also contribute to the long lifespan of ovens as less surface area is exposed to direct heat.
  • Multilevel ovens are also helping commercial bakeries become more energy efficient. These ovens can increase the throughput of bakeries; the different levels of the ovens can be set to different temperatures, humidity levels, and air flows. Hence, these ovens provide more flexibility to the production processes and also help to save energy loss by enabling more control over energy use. Ovens have a lifespan of around a decade and the flexibility offered by multilevel ovens could enable bakeries to expand their product portfolios without the need to invest in additional equipment.

In the long run, optimization of baking processes will remain the top agenda of bakeries focused on energy efficiency. The industry is likely to focus on new facilities, he anticipates, to bring about automation, streamline existing processes, deploy robotics, and focus on reducing equipment downtime toward achieving this objective.

A focus on food safety is also driving bakeries to address equipment challenges in terms of prevention of ingredient dust explosion, separation of possible allergens, ergonomics for the benefit of the users, and concerns over material handling. In addition, they are also adopting advanced technologies to address the challenges associated with packaging, storage, and distribution.

Source: World Bakers


Glazed Donuts With Classic and Chocolate Fillings

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Krispy Kreme has taken its Original Glazed donut and injected it with two different types of cream filling … and it’s all thanks to the anniversary of the first moon landing.

This is the first time that the glazed donut is being filled in the United States. We admit that we were super jealous when the Dominican Republic got a Nutella-filled donut last year, and the United Kingdom got them this year. But we’re over it now, because we now have not one, but two types of filling.

You have your choice of Krispy Kreme’s Original Filled Doughnut with Classic Kreme or Chocolate Kreme. We’re not exactly sure what the “Classic Kreme” means, but we trust the donut makers and bet they’re delicious. You’ll be able to spot the filled donuts by the Kreme drizzles on part of the pastry.

The new offerings come in time for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing on July 20, 1969. Believe it or not, Krispy Kreme was on site that pivotal day.

“Krispy Kreme was at the launch of Apollo 11, serving fresh doughnuts to Americans witnessing liftoff of this monumental mission,” Dave Skena, chief marketing officer for Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation, said in a press release. “As America prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we want to give our fans a new taste experience that is out of this world.”

The Original Filled Doughnuts hit shops on June 17, but you’ll want to mark your calendar for June 22. That’s when you can get one for free and try it for yourself. Both treats are permanently available in the U.S., so you have plenty of time to treat yourself.



Jessica Préalpato The World’s Best Pastry Chef 2019

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Jessica Préalpato, head pastry chef at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and the winner of The World’s Best Pastry Chef 2019, sponsored by Sosa, believes in a humble, no-frills cuisine dedicated to paying homage to quality produce. Discover the ethos behind her streamlined philosophy of ‘desseralité’

The French word ‘naturalité’ indicates something that belongs to nature and it is this basic principle that underpins Alain Ducasse’s cookery. Through his cuisine, the French chef says that he strives to preserve an ingredient’s most beautiful ‘naturality’, in order to create the best expression of its innate qualities. When she joined Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée as pastry chef in 2015, Jessica Préalpato found harmony in this philosophy.

Three years and a half later, Préalpato is the author of a book exploring her own pastry style and the winner of The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award 2019, sponsored by Sosa. In this time, she realised that Ducasse’s principle could be applied to sweet as easily as it does to savoury – and where the two styles met, ‘desseralité’ was born.

Desseralité is a mixture of dessert and naturalité,” explains Préalpato. “And this word perfectly describes my pastry. These are desserts with a raw visual; on the plate, everything must have a meaning.” Although simple at its core, when put into practice, the philosophy provides a challenge – but not one so big that Préalpato shies away from it.

“[When I found out I was voted The World’s Best Pastry Chef] I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t find myself worthy of receiving such a significant award. But then I realised that this prize is for this new style of pastry. The pastry of naturalité proves that without lots of dough, mousse, creams or sugar, it is possible to make delicious desserts,” she says.

Paving the way for a lighter and healthier – but no less delicious – style of pastry, Préalpato puts French produce centre stage. Her creative process involves looking for ways to ‘sublimate’ the ingredient, to present it on the plate in a higher form than it arrived in the kitchen.

“The best advice I’ve been given when I knocked at the doors of naturalité was to respect the product,” says Préalpato. “Choose the right product at the right time, take the time to taste it and sublimate it. And always stay curious.”

High-quality French ingredients carefully sourced by the Plaza Athénée team are at the heart of her work, such as peanuts from the region of Hautes-Pyrénées in southwest France combined with soya milk and caramel. Other simple combinations include pear and tea or strawberries and soya, but the pastry chef is inspired by other flavours too.

“I made a dessert with beer that is disconcerting for many people because of its strong bitterness,” says Préalpato. “The idea came from a dark beer tasting. Then, my supplier brought me the hops and barley with which the beers were made. This dessert was difficult to create because there is no ‘material’ to put on the plate – everything must be modified to make the dessert. I like it because it has a lot of character, it is very distinguished.”

Préalpato inherited a sweet tooth and a taste for good produce from her parents, who owned a pastry shop in Mont de Marsan in southwest France. Deciding to study psychology at university, it wasn’t until after her studies that she realised her true calling was in the professional kitchen.

After working with acclaimed chefs Philippe Labbé and Frédéric Vardon in France, Préalpato was part of the team that led the opening of Vardon’s 39V restaurant in Paris. In 2012, she joined the Corfou Group as Chef Pâtissière, travelling to different parts of France and the world to expand her culinary horizons, until she joined Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in November 2015.

“I don’t have a mentor,” says Préalpato of working with Ducasse. “On the other hand, Monsieur Ducasse is a man I respect and admire. I admire the empire he has been able to build, but above all, I find his vision of gastronomy incredible and almost futuristic – his drive to always question oneself and to innovate.”

Her humble approach to food is reflected in her attitude to everyday life. “The best advice I have been given, and which I try to always keep in mind, is never to rely on your achievements, and to always try to evolve, to find something new.” A worthy winner of The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award 2019, we can’t wait to watch her personal and edible evolution continue.



Fat dangers from cakes and pastries

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Eating a piece of butter cake will take up 84 percent of the daily trans fat limit recommended by the World Health Organization, the Consumer Council has found.

The watchdog, along with the Centre for Food Safety, tested 75 samples of baked products – including puffy pastry, cream soups, pies, tarts, cookies, cakes and Chinese pastries.

Nineteen of the samples were found to contain industrially produced trans fat of more than 2 percent of the total fat content.

There is no law regulating the use of trans fat in food in Hong Kong, but the watchdog referred to the standard in Denmark, where the limit is 2 percent for the ratio of industrially produced trans fat to total fat content.

The center said it will look into overseas regulations before deciding whether legislation is necessary to regulate the use of trans fat in food.

An adult should not take more than 2.2 grams of trans fat a day in a 2,000-kilocalorie diet, the WHO recommended.

But the council found a butter cake sample from St Lolan Bakery in Sai Ying Pun contained 0.62 grams of trans fat per 100 grams, and one piece of the butter cake would take up 84 percent of the daily trans fat limit.

One piece of signature mille crepes from Lady M in Causeway Bay and a piece of butter cake from Maria’s in Ma On Shan would also take up 27 percent of the daily trans fat limit.

The test found puffy cream soup samples had the highest average amount of trans fat.

Among the 16 puffy cream soup samples, the one from Cafe 360 in Sham Shui Po contained the highest level of trans fat at 1.7 grams for a bowl of soup with puffy pastry, which made up nearly 80 percent of the daily limit.

Almost half of these 75 baked food samples were “high fat” food, with more than 20 grams of total fat per 100 grams.

Henry Ng Chi-cheung, principal medical officer at the center, said excessive trans fat consumption can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Trans fats, no matter whether they are industrially produced or naturally occurring, can increase the bad cholesterol level. This bad cholesterol level can block the blood vessels,” Ng said. He added that trans fats would also reduce the good cholesterol level.

“This good cholesterol level can protect the wall of the blood vessels from being blockage.”

He added: “The two effects together means that there is a more increased risk of the blood vessels being blocked, so there is an increased risk of the cardiovascular disease like the heart disease, and other blood vessel diseases, for example, stroke, can also occur.”

Ng said the center realized that the level of trans fat in food products in Hong Kong had not improved compared with a study in 2012.

He advises consumers to limit the consumption of baked or fried food and snacks which contain industrially produced trans fat and to read the nutrition label when buying prepackaged food of the fat and trans fat content.

For manufacturers, Ng said they can use healthier oil such as peanut oil and corn oil, and choose ingredients without partly hydrogenated oils.



Sara Lee Frozen Bakery opens new test kitchen, innovation center

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Sara Lee Frozen Bakery has opened a 10,000-square-foot research and development innovation center and test kitchen in its Oakbrook Terrace headquarters, the company announced Monday.

The Kitchens of Sara Lee facility will focus on the innovation and expansion of new flavors and product lines. The innovation center features a fully equipped test kitchen, lab, storage and presentation space and is custom designed for customer showcase and co-collaboration.

The marketing and product development teams will work together with twice the amount of resources dedicated to Sara Lee Frozen Bakery’s brands.

“This new collaborative space brings our culinary experts together with our sales and marketing team to accelerate our product innovation, anticipate new trends and create many more irresistible foods for our customers for years to come,” said Craig Bahner, Sara Lee Frozen Bakery CEO.

Newly appointed Research & Development Director Judy Lindsey will lead the team of product innovators and culinary experts, which has doubled in size since Sara Lee Frozen Bakery became an independent company in July.

The opening of The Kitchens of Sara Lee marks the end of a five-month construction project, led by Morgan Harbour Construction, within the building adjacent to Sara Lee Frozen Bakery’s Oakbrook Terrace HQ. Oakbrook based EWP Architects redesigned and optimized the space to create a fully equipped kitchen, lab, storage, freezer and collaborative space to replicate, refine and innovate product offerings in the new facility.

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, which makes frozen bakery and dessert products under the Sara Lee, Van’s, Chef Pierre and Bistro Collection brands, brought the iconic brand’s headquarters back to DuPage County after it was sold by Tyson Foods in 2018. Tyson picked up the brand in a 2014 acquisition of Hillshire Brands, which was created after the Downers Grove-based Sara Lee Corp. split into two companies in 2012.



Europeans Care about Their Food

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Two in five Europeans take a personal interest in food safety and only one in five say it is their main concern when choosing food. For most Europeans, it is one of several factors – together with price, taste, nutrition and food origin – that influence their eating habits and food choices.

The most important factors for Europeans when buying food are where the food comes from (53%), cost (51%), food safety (50%) and taste (49%). Nutritional content is slightly less important (44%), while ethics and beliefs rank lowest (19%). Overall, 41% of respondents say that they are ‘personally interested in the topic of food safety’. Just over one fifth of Europeans (22%) say that safety is their main concern when choosing food.

Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) have changed their consumption after receiving information about a food risk. For 33% the change was permanent; for the other 33% only for a while.

Changes in consumption behavior are more common among women, those in the middle age bands, and those with higher levels of education.

The most frequently cited concerns are ‘antibiotic, hormone or steroid residues in meat’ (44%), ‘pesticide residues in food’ (39%), ‘environmental pollutants in fish, meat or dairy’ (37%) and ‘additives like colors, preservatives or flavorings used in food or drinks’ (36%).

Trust is highest in scientists (82%) and consumer organizations (79%) for information on food-related risks, followed by farmers (69%), national authorities (60%), EU institutions (58%), NGOs (56%) and journalists (50%). Fewer people trust supermarkets and restaurants (43%), food industries (36%) and celebrities, bloggers and influencers (19%).

Just over two in five respondents (43%) say that ‘there are regulations in place to make sure that the food you eat is safe’. Three in ten (28%) know that ‘to decide how risky something could be for you to eat; the EU relies on scientists to give expert advice’.

The study published on World Food Safety Day gives “consumers, producers and governments a chance to focus on an issue that is often taken for granted” according to the United Nations. The survey results suggest that most Europeans (55%) have a high level of awareness of food safety topics and two-thirds have changed their behavior as a result of receiving information about food safety issues.

“I am delighted that finally there is a day that marks the importance of food safety and recognizes the valuable work of women and men, farmers, veterinarians, agronomists, chefs, and so many more, who work hard every day to make sure that the food that goes on our plates is safe. The results of this study show that Europeans have a high level of awareness of food safety topics and care what they eat. This gives us even greater motivation to continue our work in ensuring that our high standards are maintained and also strive to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns,” said commissioner for health and food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis.



The FAO Food Price Index rises further

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» The FAO Food Price Index* (FFPI) continued to rise for the fifth consecutive month, averaging 172.4 points in May 2019, up 1.2 percent (2.1 points) from April but still 1.9 percent below its level in the corresponding month last year. While prices for sugar and oils fell, the other sub-indices registered increases in May, led again by strong month-on-month firming of prices of dairy products followed by cereals.

» The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 162.3 points in May, up 1.4 percent (2.2 points) from April. However, at this level, the index remained some 6 percent below its May 2018 value. The small month-on-month increase was entirely driven by a sudden surge in maize quotations in response to diminishing production prospects in the United States. By contrast, wheat price quotations were generally lower in May in view of good global supply prospects and adequate export availabilities. FAO’s rice price index held steady for the third successive month, as a mild increase in aromatic quotations was offset by slight price declines in most other rice market segments.

» The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 127.4 points in May, shedding 1.3 points (or 1.1 percent) from April and lingering well below its year-earlier level. The drop mainly reflected lower values of palm oil, whereas prices of soy, sunflower and rapeseed oils appreciated modestly. The further drop in international palm oil quotations was tied to continued pressure from large inventory levels in leading exporting countries as well as falling mineral oil prices. In the meantime, soy and sunflower oil prices received some support from firm global import demand, while rapeseed oil values were underpinned by concerns over reduced crop prospects in the EU.

» The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 226.1 points in May, up 11.2 points (5.2 percent) from April, pushing the index 24.2 percent higher than at the start of the year and closer to a five-year high. A sharp upswing in cheese price quotations was mainly behind the strong increase in May, with other dairy products represented in the index also remaining above their January levels. The dairy price increase reflected robust global import demand amid tight export availabilities from Oceania, as drought conditions reinforced the seasonal decline in milk production. Concerns over milk production in Europe also provided support to prices.

» The FAO Meat Price Index* averaged 170.2 points in May, up marginally from April and continuing the moderate month-on-month price increases registered since the beginning of the year. In May, pig meat quotations continued to rise due to strong import demand, especially from East Asia, primarily driven by production declines associated with the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the region. Ovine meat prices also received a push from robust import demand, notwithstanding record export volumes from Oceania, while poultry meat prices remained stable reflecting well-balanced market conditions. By contrast, price quotations of bovine meat eased from the highs recorded in April, reflecting elevated global export supplies.

» The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 176 points in May 2019, down 5.8 points (3.2 percent) from April. The latest monthly decline in international sugar prices was largely driven by the prospects of increased sugar output in India, the world’s largest sugar producer. In addition, weaker international energy prices negatively affected international sugar prices by encouraging producers to process sugarcane into sugar instead of ethanol. Reports that Brazil sugar production in 2018/19 marketing year, which ended on 31 March 2019, registered a fall of 17 percent year-on-year, were not sufficient to offset the downward pressure on prices.

* Unlike for other commodity groups, most prices utilized in the calculation of the FAO Meat Price Index are not available when the FAO Food Price Index is computed and published; therefore, the value of the Meat Price Index for the most recent months is derived from a mixture of projected and observed prices. This can, at times, require significant revisions in the final value of the FAO Meat Price Index which could in turn influence the value of the FAO Food Price Index.

Download full dataset: Excel, CSV

Download full dataset: Excel