The Vivid Harvest whole food powders are manufactured for PLT by Columbia Phytotechnology (CPT) via a patented ultra-gentle process using infrared light to evaporate water molecules in foods without disturbing active enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals or other phytonutrients and preserving the flavor, aroma, color and nutritional quality of the original materials.
Source materials are crushed into a liquid slurry, poured out onto a belt so they are in a thin film, and then infrared light is applied at a wavelength that effectively disrupts water molecules, but leaves everything else alone, PLT new product development manager Sid Hulse told FoodNavigator-USA.
"It's sometimes called infrared zone drying or radiant zone drying, and it's so gentle that you preserve virtually all of the nutrients in the source material; you just lose the water. We've done tests on things such as acerola where you can lose 12.5% of the vitamin C content via freeze drying and virtually none via infrared zone drying.
"As well as all the phytonutrients, you also keep the taste, aroma and vibrant color of the source material."
The solid, moisture-resistant granules also offer food and beverage manufacturers processing advantages over drum dried, spray dried and freeze dried fruit and veg powders, including better flowability with less dusting, enhanced solubility and dispersibility, and a better particle shape, he said.
No solvents or processing aids, no vacuum, no extreme temperatures
From a clean-label perspective, they also tick all the boxes as the evaporation process does not use solvents or processing aids or put raw materials under vacuum or temperature extremes – which can negatively affect purity and sensory characteristics, he added.
Meanwhile, their low moisture content (less than 3%) and solidity give Vivid Harvest granules a very long shelf-life, while their bulk density offers a more intense, concentrated product enabling formulators to use smaller amounts to achieve the desired effects.
Made from non-GMO fruits and vegetables, juices, pulps and purees, the powders are typically certified organic with no carriers.
Nutritional and sensory benefits delivered in an ingredient form that is easier to incorporate and process than liquid products, drum-, spray-, or freeze-dried products
In the initial launch, PL Thomas is offering 25 fruit-based products and 16 vegetable-based products, but also has the potential to create novel whole food powders out of non-traditional ingredients such as salmon or other animal proteins, said Hulse.
"I am sure that there are applications we don't even know about yet. Anything that has a high water content could work."
Customized variants can also be developed from multiple fruits and vegetables that are blended during a liquid phase before the evaporation process to ensure uniformity of the finished granules more effectively than a mixed powder process can achieve, he said.
“Consumers want healthy, wholesome, clean label foods, and nutritionists and dietitians tell us that the best place to get that nutrition is in whole foods.
“Vivid Harvest whole food powders do all of these things and more, by delivering the real sensory experience and all the nutrition of fruits and vegetables into foods and beverages. This is the next level of wholesome, clean label ingredients.”
He added: “The great thing about the technology behind Vivid Harvest is that it delivers these nutrition and sensory benefits in an ingredient form that is easier to incorporate and process than liquid products, drum dried, spray dried or freeze dried products.”
The wow factor…
Feedback so far has been very positive, he said.
“When we have sampled people with this product initially, they have been impressed by the striking appearance, the great taste and aroma and the ‘realness’ of this product line.
“It jumps out at you and gives you that ‘wow’ sensation the first time you try it.”
Asked about price, the drying process was very cost competitive, and ultra-energy efficient, he claimed.
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