Frying oil is a mainstay of the foodservice, quick service restaurant (QSR), and par frying industries. It is estimated that more than 15L of cooking oil is used by one typical QSR per day.
Yet, innovation in frying oils for these sectors is ‘very rare’, according to Renne Boerefijn, director of innovation at plant-based oil supplier Bunge Loders Croklaan. Together with French flavour house Mane, Bunge has been working to innovate oils with workplace health and safety in mind.
The result, Boerefijn explained, is a solution with an unexpected health benefit.
Preventing foaming with rosemary extract
While innovation in frying oils may be few and far between, Bunge believes that restaurants and the par-frying industry are ‘constantly’ looking to improve operations and value. “In today’s economy with high inflation, offering healthier, more natural, and less processed food at lower cost is a high priority,” noted the oil supplier.
Specifically, Bunge is interested in making frying oil ‘completely natural’. The company observed that in these industries, and particularly in restaurants channels, a synthetic chemical was being utilised to supress foaming.
Foaming can occur in the cooking process when food is dropping into hot oil and its moisture rises to the surface to evaporate, causing the oil to bubble. What is left is the associated moisture, starch, and impurities, which can create a foam on the oil’s surface.
“That foaming also comes across as splattering, which is of course a safety hazard for people who work in restaurants and kitchens, who can get skin burns,” Boerefijn told FoodNavigator at trade show Fi Europe in Paris last month.
“It’s also a sign that the oil is going off, and can create rancidity…which you don’t want.”
Bunge and Mane’s solution to the problem is a ‘completely natural’ rosemary extract, a ‘novel proprietary component’, that prevents foaming. “When we started to test it, we found that it worked like a charm,” the innovation lead elaborated.
An unexpected discovery: reduced oil pickup
In testing the solution, named Sonnin Pro, Bunge observed some unintended benefits. Products fried in Sonnin Pro picked up less of the frying oil than its conventional counterpart.
“When we did the standard testing on fried products, such as fries and crisps, we found that the pickup of oil in products was actually 25.6% less. We didn’t expect anything so big. In fact, we had no reason to expect any affect at all in this area,” Boerefijn revealed. “It was a wonderful find.”
Not only does the solution improve the nutritional profile due to calorie reduction in the end-product, but it means that operators require less oil overall. Looking at a relatively ‘uncontrolled setting’ of restaurants, Bunge found that at least 10% savings could be achieved.
“You end up using less oil. The operators have optimised their systems in such a way that the only consumption of oil that they have in their system is the pickup in food. So when you reduce that, you can reduce anywhere between 10-25%, which is big,” Boerefijn told this publication.
The secret ingredient, a rosemary extract, was developed in collaboration with French flavour house Mane. While rosemary extracts have been around for a ‘long time’, this particular one used in Sonnin Pro is ‘really new’, said the innovation director. “We developed it together and it’s exclusive to us.”
Although a ‘collaborative development’, Bunge was responsible for the oil element and conducted the pickup testing across its teams in Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands, as well as at its centre in St Louis, US. “We tested it in a number of places and confirmed it again in both lab and restaurant settings.”
Having instigated the project in mid-2020, the solution was introduced commercially mid-2022.