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Food Powder Processing and Technology

Posted by Anna Batsakes on Aug 24, 2016

Food Powder Processing and Technology

Want to know how Food Powder Processing and Technology can impact your product? Imagine this...

You’ve got a hot new protein powder product. It has a great marketing story and consumer positioning. It has all of the right ingredients, and it is healthy and natural- the packaging is great and the label looks terrific!  But there’s a problem—it clumps and doesn’t dissolve in water. Or, ingredients float on the surface or sink to the bottom. It has an off-taste, or it’s too light to fill a package.  All those meaningful ingredients AND terrible sensory. It’s unmixable, undrinkable! And the color is yuck!  Now what to do? Go find a powder doctor?  Well, YES! Our powder experts are called particle engineers, and time and time again, I've seen our team triage a powder patient and save a product’s life!

We understand how food powder processing and technologies can improve powder performance characteristics to make your new product successful in the market. Many beverage, food and nutritional ingredients have properties that make them difficult to use in finished products (like high-intensity sweeteners). Other formulations have ingredients that are incompatible with other ingredients (like oil and water!). Particle engineering is the science of modifying particles into a defined shape, size distribution or composition to enhance the performance of ingredients and/or formulas that have issues such as poor solubility, negative ingredient interactions or bad taste profiles. The technology of Food powder processing and particle engineering, is the science of making ingredients work well- and/or work well together to create an optimized formulation.

Whenever I visit IFP’s lab, I’m always amazed to find Pat Moran (Product Development Engineer) and Tom Tongue (Director R&D) working with Lisa Unlu (Senior Food Scientist)  with a product to determine how to make the ingredients work together.  Product optimization is a case by case situation. And often, I hear them assessing "issues" and discussing "options for treatment."  And that is exactly what happens, ingredients or formulations are evaluated by a team of experts and then treated in our fluid bed processor to optimize performance. They marry food application science, chemical analytics, and process R&D in a seamless manner to the benefit of our customers.

Food powder processing technologies, such as fluid bed agglomeration, granulation, coating and encapsulation, are foundations for the science of particle engineering for food and nutrition applications. At the highest level, particle engineering focuses on particles within individual ingredients and how they drive certain properties in a bulk mixture. Particle engineering techniques range from increasing or decreasing the surface area of a particle for controlled dissolution, to changing the density of a food powder and standardized bulk material for dose uniformity. Techniques are also used to manipulate particle shape and size to avoid separation of trace ingredients, such as vitamins and amino acids. The fine art of encapsulating ingredients can aid in the slow release or masks the taste of bitter ingredients.

Consistent size and distribution can improve dose uniformity, homogeneity of blends and stability against segregation. Ingredient encapsulation, can provide a range of functionality to powders like protecting active substances from air oxidation and moisture, control release of active substances, enhance shelf life and enable potential labeling as organic without using preservatives, mask smell or taste of malodorous ingredients, stabilize mixtures, improve rheological (viscosity) characteristics of liquid and semisolid formulations, reduce hygroscopicity of moisture absorbing materials, and reduce grittiness of solid particles in chewable tablets, sauces, and pastes.  And that’s just to start!

As the Marketing Director at IFP, I’m always a little lost when R&D goes deep into the intricacies of particle engineering.  But, I’m never lost when I see, taste or smell the before and after of a powder product assignment.  When it comes down to it, what IFP does (and does well) is make a powder look great, taste great and sound great to the consumer. You can have the best ingredients and the best intentions for a product, but without the best sensory, it is difficult to achieve a winning product.  Leverage our food powder processing and technology scientists to ensure your product gets to market as you intended and with the best opportunities for success!

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