As Stratas Foods celebrated 10 years in the fats and oils business, the company reflected on industry challenges across the past decade and what the future holds for fats and oils. 

Stratas Foods was formed in October 2008 as a 50/50 joint venture between ACH Food Cos. (ACH) and ADM. ACH, a division of Associated British Foods, provided a portfolio of ingredients, including Fymax, Sweetex, and Fenix Flakes while ADM provided a North American production network as well as a global network of procurement, processing and transportation resources.

Today, Stratas Foods provides fats and oils, mayonnaise, dressings, and sauces to the food service, food ingredients, and retail private label markets in North America. The company’s Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) Center provides a place for its team of scientists to create new ingredients to address bakery formulation challenges of the day.

Looking back across the past 10 years serving the baking and snack industries, Stratas Foods has seen many changes in the industry and has moved to adapt to needs that have arisen.

The baking and snack industries saw many consolidations with major companies becoming even larger and product differentiation becoming more important. However, the biggest challenge Stratas Foods and the baking and snack industries faced from a formulating perspective was the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandate that revoked GRAS status of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). In anticipation of this decision, Stratas Foods had been at work on a solution since 2003, resulting in four generations of options that all aimed to be a drop-in replacement for PHOs.

“Each product has brought something additional to the food formulator’s table, with this fourth generation product, Apex Golden Flex, satisfying the final needs in that progression for true drop-in functionality from distribution to storage to performance in the factor or kitchen,” says Roger Daniels, vice-president, research, development, and innovation at Stratas Foods.

Apex leverages Stratas’ functional crystallization with an expanded, more resilient fatty acid platform to provide consistency, stability, firmness, and performance. The ingredient also is based in soybean oil. It is available for food service as Sweetex, Golden Flex for icings, and Primex Golden Flex for all-purpose formulating.

Once PHO functionality had been replaced, the baking industry’s needs shifted to lowering saturated fat.

“In the post-PHO world, the new focus is on reducing saturated fats,” Mr. Daniels says. “Now that we’ve solved the non-p.h.o. baking issue, market demands for a shortening without hydrogenated fat on the label have increased. Products with lower saturated fats are the next big thing.”

To address this Stratas developed Superb Select 1020 Shortening. This soybean-based shortening reduces saturated fats by more than 40% when compared to conventional palm oil. The ingredient still maintains the structure needed for baking and protects both flavor and stability.

When looking to the next 10 years, sustainability will take center stage.

“The sustainability trend is nothing new, but it has only begun to scratch the surface in the baking industry,” says David Tillman, vice-president, sales and marketing, Stratas Foods. “This includes baking and bakery products that are not only better for you but that also use ingredients and technology that are more sustainable for our global environment. This means less food miles, less deforestation, smaller serving sizes and more locally grown ingredients.”

The company also anticipates homemade or from-scratch-like baked products will continue to grow in popularity.

After 10 years serving the baking industry with fats and oils, Stratas Foods expects to carry on its legacy of anticipating market needs and meeting them.