Citri-Fi, which was first introduced on the US market in 2004, is gaining increasing popularity amongst food firms looking to improve product formulations and resolve certain processing issues, said manufacturer Fiberstar.
According to the firm, commercialization of finished goods using the ingredient is just starting to take effect, with a new line of trans-fat free donuts set to appear in a major US retailer. Other new products using Citir-Fi include muffins and pizza wraps.
The product, a fiber derived from orange pulp and used in powder form, claims to have four primary functionalities. These are moisture management, fat replacement, use as a strengthening agent and use as a processing aid.
According to Fiberstar, what distinguishes the ingredient is the way in which it binds with water. The product claims to hold up to 13 times its weight in water, and to allow for a more stable water retention than can generally be achieved with other products on the market.
The key is in the process used to develop the material, which opens up the cellular structure of citrus pulp to create an open porous fiber matrix. The resulting product contains around 70 percent dietary fiber, half of which is soluble and half insoluble.
And when added to moisture in the form of water or oil, the insoluble fibers act as a net to put surface tension on the water or oil and hold these within the fibrous matrix.
This results in a more stable moisture retention than may be obtained with other products, which typically grind particles smaller and smaller to increase surface area for water absorption, said the firm's chief executive officer Dale Linquist.
Moisture management applications include the prevention of syneresis in products such as coleslaw, and the absorption of the free water and oil in meat fillings that occurs on cookout, at a concentration of around 0.75 percent.
If a product has too little moisture, Citri-Fi can also be hydrated and used to increase moistness and yield, said the firm. This includes applications such as muffins or bread, with baked weight moisture increasing by around 10 percent.
And because the ingredient binds so tightly with water, it also acts as an effective fat replacer without changing the taste, texture or volume of a product, said the firm. One part Citri-Fi and 7 parts water claim to replace between 25 and 50 percent of oil or shortening in a wide range of food products.
"While many food manufacturers have been struggling to produce low trans fat or zero trans fat products using any number of new low-trans oil combinations, Citri-Fi has been promoting a simple zero trans fat solution that maintains or improves the taste, texture or cost of a wide variety of food products," said Lindquist.
"Fiberstar's solution involves using Citri-Fi and water in combination with palm oil and other low trans oils," he told FoodNavigator-USA.com, adding that taste, texture and cost could vary depending on the qualities inherent in the oil being used.
The firm demonstrated its ingredient in a muffin product at the recent IFT trade show in Orlando. The muffin, which had a similar taste to the control on display, claimed to contain 38 percent less total fat, 25 percent less saturated fat and 6 percent fewer calories.
The company also claims that because the combination of Citri-Fi and water may be cheaper than certain shortenings, using the product could bring up to a 5 percent cost reduction to manufacturers.
As a strengthening agent, the ingredient is marketed as reducing breakage during manufacturing and shipping in goods such as crackers, pie crusts chips and cereals. This is achieved without impacting the bite, said the firm, adding that one customer reduced pie crust breakage from 15 percent to 1 percent through the use of 0.75 percent Citri-Fi.
The ingredient can also be used as a processing aid to aid flowability and prevent bridging, which may occur in pre-mix bins for a number of extruded products. It also claims to reduce free oil separation that can occur during the processing of meats and meat fillings, which can often result in a greasy finished good.
Although Citir-Fi is a fiber product, it does not add significant amounts of fiber to a formulation because it is used at very low concentrations, said the firm. For example, used at a 1 percent level, it would bring 0.7 percent dietary fiber to a product.
The ingredient, which claims superior functionality to other orange fiber ingredients on the market, is obtained from orange juice pulp cells that have been washed, dewatered, sheared, dried and ground to a small particle size. According to the company, no chemical extraction or treatment is involved in the manufacturing process.
The process used to obtain the ingredient was developed by scientists at the University of Minnesota, who licensed the technology exclusively to Fiberstar.
The ingredient, which can be labeled as citrus flour or dried orange pulp, has been self-affirmed GRAS and has also received a letter of no objection from the Food and Drug Administration.
It is available throughout North America and Europe, as well as in South America and Australia.
The firm currently produces around 5 million pounds of the ingredient per year, but due to increased demand plans to double production capacity within the next two years.
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