Such ‘stealth vegetables’ are included in small volumes in products, contributing to a higher nutritional value for the finished product but without affecting the dominant flavor, according to SVZ International, a supplier of fruit and vegetable ingredients.
Carrots are used as an ingredient in a variety of products, predominantly beverages, but also in the dairy and bakery sectors.
While consumers are aware of the nutritional value of vegetables, there is still the danger that they are put off consuming them because they perceive the taste to be inferior or boring compared to other flavors. And that's where stealth carrots come in.
“We can use vegetables – like carrot – to go into a product as a small inclusion, and that’s where the consumer doesn’t really taste the carrot itself,” explained Johan Cerstiaens, sales director, SVZ.
“There’s a big trend and people are asking to get a bigger vegetable intake. It helps people get more vegetables without the negatives of the vegetables – there are a lot of negative connotations that vegetables aren’t nice to eat or drink. But it’s very easy to infuse in drinks or other products.”
Ten years ago, SVZ saw demand for vegetable ingredients from Asia, but very little from Europe. But demand from Europe and the US is growing and today, SVZ’s business is split evenly between fruit and vegetable ingredients.
Carrots are also contributing to interesting fusions of flavor: carrot and raspberry; carrot and peach; or carrot and mango, for example.
Harvest in Poland
SVZ invited this publication to see the start of the carrot harvest in Poland this month. While fruits are harvested and processed in the summer months from June to September, the attention turns to vegetables in September to January.
Produce is harvested near the processing facility in Tomaszów, a town in the south east of the country near the Ukrainian border, with most carrots coming from within a 20-50km radius of the facility.
The carrots are sold as single strength puree, concentrated puree, and concentrated juice.