Part of DuPont Nutrition & Health’s overall business goal is to play a part in tackling a global food shortage, predicted to hit the population over the coming years. On a smaller level, the research teams in the bakery business are working on contributing to this.
“DuPont have got together in looking at mega trends for the next 40-50 years; looking at what’s happening in the world. There’s going to be major food shortages with predicted famines, major starvation and food will be very, very scarce,” said Steven Mallory, application scientist for the bakery division at DuPont Nutrition & Health.
As a result, DuPont is focused on work in its seed division – to develop crops that can grow in desert-like conditions in Africa – and also on bioethanol because the demand for fuel will continue to rise, he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
But from a bakery perspective, the teams are also looking to tackle this trend, albeit on a more local level, he said.
Improving the quality of flour and dough processing
“From our ingredients perspective, we’re more focused a little bit on the shorter term… One of the things we’re looking at is trying to use lower quality flour,” he said.
Flour quality differs from region to region across the globe, Mallory said. “So by adding in different ingredients that we have to improve the quality you can do a lot to change flour from an ingredient that would have gone into animal feed to feeding humans.”
Similarly processing aids used in poor quality flour or a weak dough can help reduce waste, he said.
“Let’s say you’re dealing with a weak dough and you’re on a razor's edge, the slightest little thing can upset the apple cart and then you’ve lost three or four batches of dough. Sometimes by adding a dough strengthening emulsifier or an enzyme you can give that dough or flour just enough strength to survive the process,” he said.
Enhancing shelf life
Troy Boutte, group manager for bakery and fats & oils at DuPont Nutrition & Health, said the teams also continuing to work on extending the shelf life of bakery products.
“In the mid-90s, before these anti-staling enzymes came out, the average percentage of stale returns that bakeries had was about 15%... Now, that number has dropped down to as low as 4% or 3%,” he said.
However, when it comes to managing shelf life in baked goods, Boutte said it was a juggling act between extending stale-free life and preventing mold growth. “Those have been playing leap frog over the last 10-15 years and it’s a little bit of a slow game. Right now the technology is held up by antimicrobials; better antifungal agents for bread.”
DuPont’s Natamax B Plus mold inhibitor has started to gain traction, he said.