A wide variety of products based on edible fats and oils is available to the consuming public. Salad and cooking oils, salad dressings, mayonnaise, deep frying oils, margarines and spreads, chocolate fats, ice cream fats, bakery fats, confectionery filling and coating fats, vegetable fats for dairy products and fats for infant nutrition are some of the widely available products that are based entirely on fats and oils or contain fat or oil as a principal ingredient. Many of these products also are sold in commercial quantities to food processors, snack food manufacturers, bakeries and restaurants.
Salad & cooking oils
Salad and cooking oils are prepared from vegetable oils that are refined, bleached, deodorized, and sometimes de-waxed or lightly hydrogenated and winterised. Soybean, sunflower, rape, peanut and corn oil are some of the principal oils sold in this form.
Deep frying oils & fats
Industrially produced fried foods have gained a permanent place on many shopping lists since busy consumers started seeking easier ways to get a meal.
Essential to them all is a deep frying fat that not only gives them their appealing crispness and golden appearance but their universally popular flavour, too.
For the frying of snacks and fried foods, oils and fats with the right sensory characteristics and high thermostability have to be used to prevent rapid oxidization and polymerization. High frying temperatures place great demands on an oil’s oxidation stability. The combination of saturated, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and naturally present anti-oxidants in frying oils provides top oxidation resistance, heat stability and the best nutritional profile for a good end product.
Different types of oil contribute different tastes and aromas to fried products. Oil temperature and absorption are directly responsible for the distinct fried flavour. Light colour of the frying medium and absence of lauric acid are other factors to take into account.
Careful selection is required to identify the fat that meets the special needs of each application, whether a potato crisp, which requires a slightly oily surface for seasoning after frying, or pre-fried spring rolls or breaded fish, which are frozen and then prepared for consumption straight from the freezer.
For deep-frozen French fries, the manufacturing process involves deep-frying followed by blast freezing. Rapid crystallization is important for a high output of the production line.
Mayonnaise and salad dressings are emulsified, semi-solid fatty foods that contain between 65% and 30% vegetable oil, respectively, and dried whole eggs or egg yolks. Salt, sugar, spices, seasoning, vinegar, lemon juice, and other ingredients complete these products.
Reduced fat dressings: In order to satisfy consumer demand for reduced fat foods, the food industry has developed a wide array of dressings, which have been reduced in fat content and may contain 25% less fat than the conventional dressings.
Margarine & spreads
A good buttery flavour and the ability to spread easily on bread are crucial attributes of retail margarine and spreads for domestic use.
Careful adjustment of the fat blend creates margarine and spreads with perfect melting properties, securing optimum flavour release and mouth feel. The right ratio of solid fat crystals to liquid fat heightens the smooth experience and ensures good spreadability at low temperatures.
According to European regulations, products with a fat content of at least 10% but less than 90%, that remain solid at a temperature of 20°C and are suitable as spread. Fat content excluding the salt must be at least 2/3 of the dry matter. Margarines/fat spreads/blends and blended spreads are water-in-oil emulsions, derived from vegetable/animal fats, with a milk fat content of not more than 3% for margarines/fat spreads. For blends and blended spreads, the milk fat is between 10% and 80%.
For sales purposes and according to European regulations, Margarine must contain not less than 80% but less than 90% of fat, three quarter fat margarine contains between 60% and 62% fat and half fat margarine between 39 and 41% fat. The term 'vegetable' may be used together with the sales descriptions provided that the product contains only fat of vegetable origin with a tolerance of 2 % of the fat content for animal fats.
The fat in margarine and spreads may be prepared from a wide variety of fat combinations and may be the result of several processes. The more common preparations used include blends of hydrogenated fat(s) and unhydrogenated oils(s), blends of two or more hydrogenated fats, a single hydrogenated fat or a blend of liquid unhydrogenated oil interesterified with a fully saturated fat.
Bakery Fats (shortenings)
Shortenings are fats used in the preparation of many foods. Because they impart a "short" or tender quality to baked goods, they are called shortenings.
These cost-effective shortenings and butter substitutes ensure a crisp bite in biscuits, cookies, crackers and pastry, a good crumb structure and volume in bread and cakes and fillings with a creamy, full-bodied taste. At the same time, the fats’ anti-staling properties see to it that these desirable eating characteristics are just as evident on the last day in storage as they are on the first.
Hydrogenated shortenings may be made from a single hydrogenated fat, but are usually made from a blend of two or more hydrogenated fats. For example, partially hydrogenated cottonseed or palm oil may be blended with partially hydrogenated soybean oil for improved performance properties, such as creamy consistency and good storage stability. The conditions and extent of hydrogenation may be varied for each source of oil to achieve the characteristics desired. Thus, in the manufacture of hydrogenated shortenings, considerable flexibility is possible providing a wide choice of finished product characteristics.
Cocoa butter alternative fats
Our industry supplies a whole range of vegetable alternatives to cocoa butter known as Cocoa butter alternatives (CBA). Those products have lower cost than cocoa butter, at the same time as they offer technical advantages and improved quality all through the production, distribution, storage and consumption of chocolate and confectionery products.
By entirely or partly replacing cocoa butter and/or butterfat with CBA, processing advantages are gained at the same time as higher-quality end products are achieved. The product is given longer shelf life, better heat-resistance and improved storage stability at the same time as raw material costs are reduced.
CBA have the physical properties and chemical composition of cocoa butter but iron out many of the difficulties inherent to chocolate production:
Cocoa butter alternative fats are often classified into three categories:
Cocoa Butter Equivalents and Improvers (CBE/CBI) have physicochemical characteristics similar to cocoa butter. The range comprises in part products which are nearly identical with cocoa butter, but also products which can be used to alter the properties of chocolate making it more heat resistant or slightly softer to mention just a few examples.
CBE have the ability to delay the onset of bloom, which robs chocolate of its glossy appeal, turning it dull, grey and unappetising. A small dose is sufficient to give it better storage stability, eating properties as well as extend the shelf life of chocolate considerably.
CBE are composed of the same type of triglycerides as cocoa butter, obtained through fractionation of palm oil or different exotic fats like shea or illipe.
According to European regulations, CBEs can be used at the 5 % level in the product, replacing cocoa butter and still be called chocolate. The result is a cheaper product with maintained properties.
Cocoa Butter Replacers (CBR) are formulated from non-lauric fats such as soyabean oil, rapeseed oil, palm oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, etc. The production of this type of fat involves special hydrogenation and fractionation techniques.
There are two main reasons for using CBR instead of cocoa butter; the price is lower, and production is simplified since the tempering step can be omitted. Setting times are adequate for modern high-speed equipment. For coating applications they offer several advantages, such as good heat stability and simplified manufacturing procedures.
CBR may be used in solid and filled moulded items, but it also excellent for all kinds of coatings applications. Since a CBR tolerates high amount of cocoa butter (25%), cocoa liquor may be used in the formulation to render a good and full cocoa favour to the products.
Cocoa Butter Substitutes (CBS) are based on lauric fats. The main raw materials in this group are coconut and palm kernel oil, with palm kernel being the preference for CBS manufacture. The production of CBS involves special hydrogenation and fractionation techniques.
As CBSs are showing a good contraction when crystallised it makes them suitable for moulding. CBSs are also well suited for coating applications, due to their quick setting. Due to the composition of a CBS differing a lot to a cocoa butter composition it is not possible to use a CBS in a recipe containing cocoa liquor.
Chocolate flavoured products are used not only in traditional confectionery products but also in bakery, ice cream and many other areas. Composed of cocoa powder or liquor, sugar and specially designed vegetable fats, chocolate flavoured compounds may be a better choice than real chocolate.
High-fat biscuits and cookies taste good at any time of day. But when fat migration causes their glossy chocolate coatings to fade, becoming dull and grey in appearance, their consumer appeal rapidly fades with them.
Vegetable fats for compound coatings are produced from standard raw materials for oils and fats, such as palm oil, soybean oil, rapeseed and palm kernel oil. Although sophisticated processing is employed to give the desired characteristics, they are significantly cheaper than cocoa butter or CBE, which allows manufacturers of compounds to save on raw material costs.
Two important characteristics give room for further improvements of production economy: CBR and CBS products crystallise directly into the stable crystal form when cooled. This means that in contrast to cocoa butter and CBE, no tempering is needed.
Fillings and spreads
Innovative fillings with fabulous flavours and tempting textures give confectionery and baked goods the interest value that often captures consumer attention. For manufacturers, new ways to add variety to their product range are a continuing concern.
Fat based fillings: Fats are important ingredients in many types of confectionery products, also in fat based confectionery fillings. Confectionery fillings such as nougats, truffles and yoghurt fillings typically contain 30-40 % of a continuous fat phase. Other ingredients include sugar, milk powders, cocoa products and often nut paste. As is the case for all fat continuous products the properties of the combined fat phase largely determine many aspects of eating properties.
Confectionery producers primarily look at sensory properties when designing a filling. The melting profile of the filling fat has a major impact on this. However, also cooling conditions and shearing during crystallisation make a big difference regarding texture, which in turn is related to eating quality. Thus pumping and stirring during cooling as well as cooling conditions may have an influence on the sensory properties of a praline.
Aerated and whipped fillings: Generally speaking, all types of fat based fillings may be aerated to obtain a lighter texture. Characteristic features of fats for this application are their ability to stabilize air bubbles incorporated during whipping. The stabilising effect is obtained by forming small fat crystals, which surround the air bubble.
Spreads: Fat based spreads such as peanut butter, hazelnut and chocolate flavoured spreads are gaining in popularity. These products are fat continuous with a fat content of some 30 %, hence the properties of the fat largely determine the performance of the spread.
Spreadability over a wide temperature range, from refrigerated to room temperature, is desired. A long shelf life calls for fats with good oxidative stability, and also for fats which do not tend to separate into two different phases: one liquid phase and one partially crystallised.
Bakeable fillings are typically used in co-extruded cookies, which have a soft filling inside. The fillings are often chocolate flavoured containing fat, sugar and cocoa ingredients.
Desired fat properties are similar to those in spreads: They need to remain liquid to semi liquid over a wide temperature range to ensure that the filling has the right consistency both during processing and when eaten.
In addition oxidative stability and resistance to hydrolysis are important criteria for good shelf life, since the fat is subjected to high temperature and a humid environment during bake off.
Sugar based fillings: This category of fillings includes toffees, caramels and fondants. Fat content in these products is generally below 20 % and the continuous phase is a sugar water solution.
The role of the fat in this type of fillings is completely different from its function in fat continuous fillings. Hardness and texture of the filling is largely determined by the water content and the fat works as a shortening agent, making the product less sticky. In addition the fat is important for the flavour of the product.
Shelf life and oxidation stability are the most important features of fats in sugar-based fillings. Quick and clean melting, which is vital for fat based fillings, plays a lesser role here.
Ice cream fats
An appealing ice cream depends on the good, well-rounded body and rich, creamy taste that fat provides. Replacing milk fat by vegetable fats not only reduces costs, it also makes the texture of the ice cream easier to adjust to the demands specified and allows higher production output. Vegetable fats also have the important advantage over milk fat that they make it possible to balance the content of saturated and poly-unsaturated fats in the composition and to reduce the cholesterol content.
Fat fulfils different functions in ice cream:
Ice cream coatings: Today coatings are in common use in the production of ice cream. Since the fat content of a coating varies between 55% and 70%, its properties are mainly derived from the fat used. Apart from economic considerations, vegetable fats have an advantage over cocoa butter in ice cream coatings, as they are better equipped to meet the special demands made, particularly where fast crystallisation is critical and non-transparent yet thin layers are required.
Ice cream toppings are other types of ice cream coatings, applied at the point of sale or at home. They should be liquid at room temperature, and solidify almost instantly when they come into contact with cold ice cream. As the product may be exposed to room temperature for a longer period of time, stability against oxidation and rancidity is important. The quality of an ice dipping or ice topping is largely determined by the properties of the fat system.
Vegetable Dairy Fats
Dairy products today are not only synonymous with milk. Vegetable fats have over the years proven their worth in numerous dairy applications:
Our industry supplies a range of speciality fats for partial or total replacement of milk fat in the manufacture of a wide range of recombined milk, ice cream, spreads, cheese, yoghurts, etc. Dairy fat alternatives products can be used in most kinds of dairy applications. A milk or cream emulsion is made from a milk protein source and vegetable fat, which is then used in the production in the same way as the ordinary dairy milk or cream.
While the standard functionality of milk fat is determined by nature, vegetable fats and their fractions can be blended to produce the functional properties required for specific applications. This flexibility eases the task of accommodating regional preferences, the needs of diverse food manufacturing techniques and various storage conditions.
Cream applications: The vegetable creams are used as such or as intermediates in the production of other dairy items such as butter blends, ice-cream or desserts. The vegetable creams can also be fermented to cultured products like soured cream or spray dried to powders. Creams are normally classified according to their fat content, with pouring (cooking) creams containing approximately 20% fat, whipping creams 20-40% fat and ”double creams” 35-50% fat. The vegetable creams are normally developed to match these qualities.
Different types of products require different types of fats in order to make a successful application. Products like liquid coffee whiteners and cooking creams, where the whipping properties are less important, are formulated special nutritional blends which fulfil the most important requirements such as, the absence of rancidity and off-flavours, and good storage stability.
Cheese: For cheese production vegetable fat blends that give the same properties to the final cheese as milk fat are used. These products have the correct balance between solid and liquid fat, as well as the correct consistency and melting behaviour. They also have the suitable crystallisation pattern to achieve optimal quality of the finished product in terms of consistency, appearance and shape integrity during ripening. Recombined cream based on vegetable fats is an excellent starting point for making e.g. feta and mozzarella cheese the traditional way.
Milk: Milk for consumption can be made from skimmed milk, a suitable vegetable fat, and food emulsifier. Besides price the main reason for making such a product is the nutritional value. Vegetable fats are then used to incorporate high amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids or to decrease the amount of saturated fat.
Cultured milk products: Yoghurt is one example of products that can be made by recombination using a suitable vegetable fat together with skimmed milk, or dry ingredients and water. This is especially useful for high-fat creamy dessert yoghurts.
Dairy desserts: Milk and cream based desserts, like mousse and puddings can be made from a vegetable fat based milk emulsion. The fat influences some properties, like viscosity, of the dessert as well as contributing to the desired sensory profile.
Condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk is mainly used for industrial purposes. Production of confectionery, ice-cream and baby food are some examples. It is also used as drinking milk. The products are made by recombination of skimmed milk powder, sugar, water and fat. The fat can be either vegetable fat or butter oil.
Milk and cream powder: Powdered dairy products, such as whole milk and cream powder, can also be made from vegetable fat. An emulsion, based on milk raw material and vegetable fat, is spray dried in the same way as when making dairy milk powder. The fat content in the emulsion recipe is calculated from the requirements of fat content in the final product. The vegetable fat can also be selected according to requirements regarding the final application of the powder.
Infant Nutrition Fats
Manufacturers of infant formula have a massive responsibility on their shoulders – to provide young children with the best possible nutrition when their mother’s breast milk is not available. Moreover, potential side effects have to be eliminated, total hygiene has to be maintained and a viable shelf life of up to two years secured.
Our industry provides to manufacturers of infant formula a series of vegetable oil blends based on carefully selected raw materials, which represent a balanced source of the essential fatty acids newborn infants need for healthy growth and development. As the nutritional standards for infant formula continue to be raised, the blends are adapted and refined to ensure expectations are met at all times.
Apart from adding essential fatty acids to infant formula, these special blends represent an ideal energy source in nutritional products free of bovine milk – of particular importance to babies and toddlers who are allergic to milk protein. That way, they can obtain all the nutrients they need without difficulty.
Other Food Applications
Vegetable fats are used as important ingredients in a wide range of convenience foods such as soups, sauces and party dips, powdered foods, mixes for bread and cakes, canned fish, breakfast cereals and muesli, as well as coffee whiteners.
Vegetable fats are used as well for manufacturing emulsifiers, food additives and nutritional supplements.