To support its research into the uses of sprouted grains in food production, the project has been awarded a £650,000 grant by Innovate UK.
The project initially focused on Campden and Everfresh working together to identify which sprouted grains produced an optimal product, in terms of taste and texture and nutritional properties. Holmach worked with the producer to explore the effects of pasteurisation on extending the shelf life of products.
Everfresh managing director Tom Russell told Food Manufacture that using sprouted grains was nothing new for the company, but this new research allowed for greater understanding into their applications and nutritional value.
“What we’re now looking at is what are the changes that happen when you sprout?” he explained. “Are there other things the body needs that the sprout doesn’t give you? Can we mix other things we’ve sprouted in with it that gives a more balanced ‘food parcel’ than just sprouted wheat?
Minimal processing for maximum effect
“There are proteins that aren’t present in wheat that the body needs to produce muscle or to grow, so it’s understanding what happens – when we sprout – and how we can get the minimal amount of processing to maximise the nutritive value at the end of the process.”
The research already completed in the area has led to a number of new product developments for Everfresh, said Russell – three to four of which will be launching at the end of the project as a direct result of the work done with Campden BRI and Holmach.
“We’re excited to be working on such a cutting-edge project, which could have huge impacts on the food industry,” he said. “There’s an obvious commercial attraction, both at a consumer level, where tasty, nutritional products appeal to today’s health-conscious consumers, who are looking for ever less processed foods, and at a retail level, with extended shelf lives and reduced waste having positive financial impacts.
“Perhaps more exciting, in the grand scheme of things, is the impact this could have in regions of the world where increased nutritional content and an increase in food hygiene could have life-saving consequences.”
Everfresh has also been exploring alternatives to plastic packaging that can still keep baked goods fresh and help prevent food waste.
“There’s a big backlash against plastic at the moment and some of it is justified,” Russell added. “However, the world would be a very different place if everyone said they weren’t using plastic tomorrow.
“The consumer is right to be concerned, but having said that, the options one could use – like glass and metal – are more expensive to transport and manufacture. But an aluminium or tin can can be pasteurised and is 100% recyclable.”
He also highlighted the issue of some local authorities being unable to recycle plastic films commonly used on food products, something that would be a problem if metal packaging were used.
“We’ve been looking at some interesting materials from Scandinavia made from wood pulp that may or may not withstand pasteurisation, as well as tin can technology for use for a bread-type product,” Russell continued.
“A lot of consumers might go ‘well, you don’t have bread in a tin’, but it’s wake-up time – on one hand you don’t want plastic, so if you don’t want plastic, you’ve got to accept something else even if it’s not the same.”
Russell pointed out the benefits of using metal packaging for baked goods – from its higher moisture retention than plastic that prevents food like bread from drying out, to its durability that helps prevent the packaging breaking and keeping it fresher for longer.