Cargill launches rice flour-based maltodextrin substitute

Dive Brief:

  • Cargill’s new soluble SimPure rice flour is a clean-label bulking agent that has a similar taste, texture and functionality as maltodextrin. The new ingredient was officially unveiled this week at the SupplySide West trade show.  
  • This ingredient can be used as a one-to-one replacement of maltodextrin, and can also improve mouthfeel, according to the company. In sensory testing of powdered chocolate milk, Cargill said that consumers found a SimPure rice flour prototype to be creamier. 
  • Consumers are increasingly trying to stay away from products with ingredients that sound like they have been overprocessed. SimPure rice flour can appear on an ingredient label as “soluble rice flour.”

Dive Insight:

When it comes to simplifying ingredients, food companies are on the lookout for items that are functional and don’t sound like they belong in a chemistry textbook.

Maltodextrin, a highly processed powder derived from starchy plants including corn, rice, potatoes and wheat, has been around for about 50 years. It’s an inexpensive and stable emulsifier that also has preserving properties, and it has become ubiquitous in processed food.

But maltodextrin is also one of consumers’ least desired ingredients. In a 2019 study examining consumer attitudes toward clean label food and drink from Kerry, maltodextrin was one of the five ingredients consumers most don’t want to see in frozen chicken appetizers, for example.

Cleaning up labels through ingredients like SimPure may be worth the effort. Kerry’s 2019 study found that six in 10 U.S. consumers were familiar with the term “clean label,” and almost the same amount think that food and drink with a cleaner label is healthier. Additionally, nearly three quarters of consumers said they frequently read product labels when shopping.

Cargill has built out the SimPure line with several ingredients that can replace more processed emulsifiers. The new rice flour joins similar ingredients made from waxy corn, potato and tapioca. According to a fact sheet, SimPure’s rice flour works well in bakery, beverage, convenience, dairy, sauce and snack applications. The ingredient received a no-questions letter from the FDA, so it is generally recognized as safe and available for use.

Rice flour has been a popular consumer ingredient for years, especially as more consumers are interested in replacing wheat and gluten in their diets. According to Research and Markets, the U.S. rice flour market was worth $203.5 million in 2020, and the global market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 2.9% between now and 2027. The ingredient is typically used in baked goods, and ingredient makers such as Ingredion have recently launched smoother, more functional blends.

Cargill has been working to improve other commonly used ingredients in the past year, launching other clean-label solutions to common problems. Earlier this year, the company debuted a fast-dissolving sea salt flour to use for sodium reduction.

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