According to Ingredion's Global Clean Label Consumer Study, 78% of US consumers said it was important to recognize the ingredients used in the products they buy (an increase from 66% in 2011), and any ingredients that can't conceivably be found in the kitchen pantry fall outside consumers' definition of 'clean label'.
"Both maltodextrin and gum arabic (also called gum acacia), even in their organic forms, are still not consumer preferred," Paragon Pure co-founder Chris Gregson told FoodNavigator-USA. "They’re not kitchen cupboard ingredients and they’re not things your grandmother would’ve used."
The natural foods industry has developed other solutions to replacing common flavor carriers such as plating agents that can cost-effectively transform oil- and water- soluble liquids into homogenous and flowable powders, added Gregson.
"But those plating agents don’t protect the flavor in any way, they don’t prevent volatilization, and they don’t prevent migration of the flavor into the rest of the food," claimed Gregson.
Prior to starting Paragon Pure, Gregson and co-founder Matt Sillick, both spent a number of years working as a food scientists for major ingredients companies including Firmenich and Ingredion where they specialized in flavor delivery systems and starch technology.
Gregson and Sillick identified a market need for powdered flavors using consumer-preferred ingredients that also delivered the same functional benefits of commonly-used food additives such as gums and thickening agents. What they developed was an organic rice flour, called 'CaptaClean', that could deliver on function, consumer acceptance, and cost.
While not revealing the entire process behind its CaptaClean product made from whole grain brown rice, Sillick did share that Paragon Pure is "conditioning brown rice flour in a way that it delivers all the benefits of a traditional sprayed dried encapsulation system." The result is a flavor carrier that delivers functional benefits such as improving mouthfeel of food and beverage products.
"What we have is an ingredient deck that natural companies can be proud of; they don’t need to hide it," said Gregson, who recommends companies to label the ingredient as "organic brown rice flour" (Paragon Pure also offers a non-organic version).
According to Gregson, the company's brown rice flour performs well in low-moisture food and beverage applications such as baking mixes, chips, and powdered beverages.
"The low moisture area of convenience food is really the target market," Gregson said.
While not officially on the market yet, Gregson and Sillick, said they have developed successful prototypes using CaptaClean as a flavor carrier for lime-flavored tortilla chips and a vanilla mint powdered hot chocolate. The flavor possibilities are broad, according to Sillick.
"I've enjoyed some of the really challenging aromas such as strong garlic or black pepper or capsaicin, where customers may use these [flavors] because it provides them an easier means of handling within their factories by bringing them into an encapsulation system," Sillick said.
Selected as part of the ninth cohort of the Food-X: Food Business Accelerator, Paragon Pure has been able to connect with industry experts from marketing to accounting and finance as well as investors.
"We both realized that we needed to fill in various gaps in our knowledge set in order to a make a successful business, so that network was very important to us," Gregson said.
Paragon Pure is currently working on connecting with food and beverage brands to help them formulate with CaptaClean, according Sillick.
"The next steps are all about partnering with natural brands to put prototypes in their hands so they can test out new products with new flavors to make sure that they’re achieving the full performance that they’re used to along with the preferred ingredient label," said Sillick.
"Overall, the practice of adding synthetic carriers to flavors and then calling the combination ‘natural’ – that can’t withstand scrutiny in the long run," added Sillick. "We’re looking to provide a solution."