To find the right shortening, a formulator must consider the amount of solid fat along with its melting and crystalline behavior. That’s not easy in this post-PHO world, according to Tom Tiffany, senior technical sales manager, ADM Oils, Decatur, IL, in this exclusive Q&A session with our sister magazine Baking & Snack.

Baking & Snack: How much does the choice of base oil(s) drive the functionality of shortenings? How does this differ by end use application?

Tom Tiffany: The type of application will drive the choice of oil or shortening used. For instance, a cookie shortening is less challenging to formulate than that of a puff pastry shortening, though both applications can have their challenges.

The amount of solid fat, melting behavior of the solid fat and crystallization behavior of the solid fat impacts the overall functionality of the shortening for each application. Puff pastry applications need more solids to help keep distinct layers of puff pastry shortening between layers of dough while maintaining desirable dough handling properties along with creating the flakiness associated with pastry. These types of shortenings are formulated quite differently compared to cookie or general purpose shortenings.

Why are so many of the “new generation” of bakery shortenings created by blending different base oils? How does this benefit the baker? Or snack food manufacturer?

Blending is nothing new to the edible oils industry. An array of functional shortenings based on PHO’s were developed over the years by blending different PHO base stocks together to target a varying degree of solid fat contents and melting points. The same concept is applied today for non-PHO options. Liquid oils can be blended with palm and palm fractions to target different melting properties, or liquid oils can blended with fully hydrogenated oils to achieve certain functional attributes. Blending benefits the baker in that non-PHO shortenings can be tailored to meet their functional needs. Blending, coupled with enzymatic interesterification, is also used to produce a more functional line of non-PHO shortenings. ADM was the first North American edible oils supplier to utilize enzymes on a commercial scale to supply the bakery industry with soybean oil based non-PHO shortenings.

What should customers do right now to replace PHO-based shortenings? How close is your company to “drop in” solutions? What has been the experience of bakers making this change using your fats and oils?

ADM has a range of off-the-shelf non-PHO shortening systems that can used today for PHO replacements. In many cases, ADM’s off-the-shelf products can be used as drop in replacements for PHO’s. If those products aren’t an ideal fit, ADM has a team of technical service and product developers, as well as extensive laboratory and pilot plant resources, and we work directly with our customers to find the right blend or alternative to meet the exact functional needs for that particular product.