IFT 2018

AAK to scale up production of PHO-free and plant-based ingredients for bakeries

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

AAK is opening a new innovation center in Richmond, California, later this year, to focus on increasing production of partially hydrogenated oil-free and plant-based ingredients.

The New Jersey-based ingredients developer said the goal is to better serve bakery manufacturers especially following the recently revoked GRAS​ (generally recognized as safe) status of PHOs (partially hydrogenated oils) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We have fully converted our ingredients to be PHO-free due to our customers’ immediate requirement after the FDA set those regulations,”​ said Anker Fog, business development and marketing analyst at AAK.

Co-development approach

Fog, who is also a leader of AAK’s bakery division, noted his team uses a co-development approach to develop value-added vegetable oils.

“Instead of getting an off-the-shelf product that can go into anybody’s warehouse and into any applications, we work with our customers hand-in-hand to make sure these ingredients, whether it is palm or coconut oil, are customized and perfect for their products.

“For bakeries, we are looking at how different oils affect different applications, such as cookies and muffins, because they require different kinds of fats,” ​he added.

“Palm oil is preferred by bakers because it contains harder fats, and it is easier for us to customize palm oil-based ingredients.

“There is also a demand for clean label… Consumers really gravitate towards palm oil because it sounds familiar to them,” ​he added.

However, using PHO-alternatives can be challenging in certain applications.

For example, oils containing softer fats such as sunflower, are tougher to work with, although they are often used in snacks.

Icing, which is a type of frosting, also needs a PHO to create a melting sensation.

“So we are trying to figure out if we can create the same mouth feel using palm,”​ said Fog.

Plant-based ingredients

According to Fog, vegetable oils are only a small part of AAK’s efforts to capitalize on the growing popularity of the plant-based movement.

The company’s new innovation center, which will house a bakery lab, will also focus on developing dairy-free ingredients.

“All our ingredients are plant-based because the trend is leading the food industry, and it is making its way into sub-categories, like bakery and confectionery,”​ said Fog.

At the recent IFT held in Chicago last month, the company showcased a range of non-dairy prototypes.

Vanilla soft serve plant-based frozen dessert​:


A vanilla-flavored non-dairy, allergen-free dessert made with AAK’s Neutresca coconut oil, which is PHO-free. Served with a non-dairy fudge sauce made with AAK’s Cebes confectionery fats include palm kernel and AAK’s Cisao margarine made from palm and soybean oils.

Chocolate peanut butter cup​:


A confectionery product containing AAK’s Confao filling fats made from palm kernel oil.

Decadent gourmet fudge brownie​:


A brownie featuring chocolate-flavored chunks and fudge icing, made with AAK’s Cisao margarine, which offers a 20% reduction in calories compared to all-purpose shortening and also creates an “easy-to-use frosting with no waxiness.”​ The chocolate chunks are made with AAK’s Cebes cocoa butter substitutes, which help retain structure and shape throughout the baking process.

Fig and sweet potato scone with maple icing​:

AAK_Fig and Sweet PotatoScone_3x3

Made with AAK’s Essence shortening, which results in a scone that contains 20% less saturated fat, and does not require refrigeration. Essence is easy to incorporate in other recipes.

Protein-added trail mix bar​:


A fruit and nut-filled bar wrapped in sweet caramel and enrobed in a chocolate compound coating, made with AAK’s Neutresca cocoa butter substitute, which not only provides the “optimal mouthfeel with no waxiness, it masks the flavor of the protein,”​ said the company.

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