With the current trend towards low-fat products, safeguarding a suitably creamy texture presents a big challenge food formulators - and therefore a target area for R&D by ingredients firms. Research has shown that while consumers are willing to opt for healthier products, they are unlikely to repeat buy if the taste or texture is inferior to the original. While DSM is bringing its enzyme expertise to the table, Avebe is contributing a broad knowledge on starches. The combination will "lead to new opportunities for the development of innovative creaminess-enhancing products for the food industry," DSM said. The first product to emerge from the partnership, which has been active behind the scenes for some time, is Etenia, a clean-label potato-starch derived ingredient designed for a variety of food uses. FoodNavigator.com reported on the impending launch of Etenia, initially for use as a fat replacer in dairy products last month. Avebe marketing manager Paul Sheldrake was not at liberty to disclose details of the underlying technology. He said details of research into other applications of the ingredient would be communicated in due course. Now it has emerged that the ingredient is likely to be used in cakes, under DSM's banner. "Etenia forms an integral part of DSM's revolutionary toolkit for the cake industry, which is scheduled for launch in October 2007," said the Dutch company. Sheldrake said that the clean-label attribute of Etenia is a major benefit, since it can be lableed as 'starch' rather than 'modified starch'. This, he said, is an important consumer driver, as there is a general shift away from food additives and ingredients that are seen to be of artificial origin. In contrast to other starches on the market, it is said to have gelling as well as thickening properties. Moreover, it has some of the same properties as gelatine, the most common gelling agent, but it is vegetarian. For instance, both gelatine and Etenia have thermosensitive gelling properties - that is, they thin when heated and thicken when cooled. Indeed Sheldrake called Etenia "the first starch-based ingredient with the same level of functionality as gelatine".