Asian Noodle Technology Course held at the Wheat Marketing Center, Portland

The Wheat Marketing Center together with the Food Innovations Center held another excellent advanced course on the manufacturing of dried Asian style noodles. Asian style noodles are popular all over the world for their convenience, low price and the long shelf life they provide the end use consumer. Asian noodles are packed in plastic cups or formed in a square and wrapped in plastic. Many countries lack refrigeration for foods that need to be used in a few days or weeks. Asian noodles are perfect for all climate conditions and easy to prepare and serve.

This class has taught many hundreds of people from all over the world on the science in making a good quality dried noodle. The course was held in the Old Alber’s Mill along the Willamette river waterfront near downtown Portland and ran the entire week of August 7th. This time the course was held for a group of food industry people from Nigeria which included people from the milling and baking industry.

The Wheat Marketing Center holds other short courses on many other products that also use the NW soft wheat that is grown exclusively in the NW region of the US. Soft winter wheat is lower in protein than the hard winter wheat variety that is used in bread type doughs. Higher gluten is desired for good cell structure and strength, lower gluten level is desirable for making flat breads, cakes, cookies and Asian style noodles.

The course includes in depth sessions on using phosphates, wheat protein isolates, resistant starches and hydrocolloid as ingredients in making high quality dried Asian style noodles. They included a session on making the seasoning that goes into the individual serving packets for each package. The seasoning blend in the packets is key in making the product taste and smell desirable in every country that produces them. No matter the flavors they choose they have to decide on how to enhance those flavors.

In the seasoning session we told the students how their flavor enhancing chemist tool belt included Salt, Glutamic acid in the form of MSG or Yeast Extracts as well as Nucleotides and Peptides. The proof of the performance of the yeast extracts, was when we showed the students the three demo’s I’d prepared. I used the Provesta 349, poultry enhancing yeast extract in a chicken broth, the Provesta 347 extract in a beef broth and the Provesta 512 extract in a vegetable broth.

At .025% we showed them how much a little bit of the yeast extracts can affect the seasonings flavor and have an overall umami effect on the broth. All agreed the broth was much fuller and flavorful using the yeast extracts. They finished the week making their own dried Asian Noodle product and all were going to use the samples of Ohly yeast extracts that I left for them.

The Ohly yeast extracts and other products work in all varieties of food products. If you’re working on a food product that needs some extra flavor enhancement or to bring out certain flavor notes.

Please get in touch with your local SPI Group representative and ask for an Ohly product list and demonstration on how they would work in your product.

SCFIC & SCIFTs Suppliers’ Night – March 8, 2017

We hope you had the opportunity to attend at least one of the premier events SCIFTs put on in Anaheim, CA this March. This was the 30th anniversary of these events and it was one of the best. The Conference held the first half of the day was a wealth of information on topics of interest for the busy Food Industry professional. Highlights included the esteemed Elizabeth Sloan, PhD of Sloan Trends, giving a ‘sneak peek’ of her market insights on 2017-2018 food trends. Look for her full report to be published in IFT’s Food Technology magazine soon.

Other speakers and subjects included: insights from Debra Topham, MS, CNS, CFS on managing  the new nutrition label changes set in place in 2016, Katie Wagner, founder of Katie Wagner Social Media, on how food industry professionals can harness the power of social media to engage our audience, build credibility and get our message out, Dr. Ash Husain discussed scientific advancements in sterilization processes for food safety, and we heard from Dan Solis, MHA FDA with updates on regulations and processes in food import and exports. Overall, it was very informative day.

In addition to the knowledge and expertise of the speakers, 5 student teams from Southern California Universities participated in the annual Student Product Development Competition. The teams utilized the conference theme: New World, New Tools to present their ideas to the panel of judges.

And last, but certainly not least – the day was capped off with the SCIFTs Suppliers’ Night hosted in the ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel. The event was sold out – vendors, customers, and students were able to meet with manufacturers and distributors of a wide variety of ingredients. The evening was capped off with a complimentary hors’ de oeuvre reception. If you did not attend, we encourage you to put next year’s event on your calendar – March 7, 2018.

SPI Group enjoys food safety music

Yes, we really listened to food safety music!  Every year we support the Northern California IFT section’s joint event with the UC Davis Food Science Department.   We love sponsoring food science students and having the opportunity to talk with them over dinner.

This year’s event was one of the most entertaining IFT events we have ever been to!   Instead of a speaker, we were thrilled to listen to Food Safety Music, performed by Dr. Carl Winter’s hilarious and educational food safety music parodies.

We loved hearing “You gotta wash your hands” (Sung to the tune of the Beatles “I wanna hold your hand”), but I think the favorite was “We are the microbes” (we are the champions).

The whole evening was perfect and the songs appealed to students, professors and industry members alike!

SPI Group visits NASA food labs

At SPI Group, we are strong supporters of local IFT events – and we may have just been to our favorite events with the Alamo IFT section! We loved going to Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX to hear Dr. Shannon Walker discuss her experience with long duration space flight.

Dr. Walker described how she trained at the Cosmonaut training center in Russia, using training suits that weigh a couple of hundred pounds! They do their training in large pools where they will spend 6 hours underwater. After 3 years of training, Dr. Walker went to the International Space Station where she spent 6 months living and working.  She said that one thing that she loved was seeing 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets every day, since the International Space Station orbits the earth once every 90 minutes. She showed us her many photos taken from space including hurricanes and spectacular shots of Northern and Southern lights.

Since we are food scientists, we of course asked her about the food! She told us that there are approximately 200 different foods and beverages in the International Space Station pantry. The foods are mostly soft and have to stick together – the main issue is that the food can not have any crumbs at all since the crumbs could get in to the space station filter system.  She told us that they have to add salt and pepper in a liquid form, from a dropper bottle!


We were fortunate enough to tour both the Space Food Research Center at Texas A&M university, where they make retorted pouches, as well as the food lab at Johnson Space Center. Contact us for more details and photos of space food!

My Food Job Rocks! Podcast featuring Russ Nishikawa

SPI Group is honored to have podcaster/food scientist Adam Yee feature Russ Nishikawa, VP of Business Development, on his podcast My Food Job Rocks!

The My Food Job Rocks! Podcast was developed to inform people about cool jobs in the food industry. Every week, Adam interviews people from all walks of life from jobs ranging from Product Developers, Sales Managers, Food Writers, and CEOs.

In this episode, Russ talks about his food science journey, and explains his involvement in the growth of SPI Group for 25 years. He is involved in new ingredient business development with key customers and targeted market segments, working with new ingredient from new and existing suppliers and determining how applicable the product benefits are to each end product and customer, and maintaining a very technical approach to understanding the value of each ingredient to our customer’s needs

Check out Adam’s podcast featuring Russ Nishikawa here.

6th annual Puget Sound IFT Brew Night on October 18th

Strike up another successful night of brewing and BBQ for the Puget Sound IFT group. That’s held each year at Gallagher’s Where-U-Brew in Edmond’s Washington.


The brewing event was sponsored by 8 Ingredient companies and included an award winning BBQ ribs and pulled pork meal, with all the sides and various hot sauces you’d hope for!

The event host was Jeff Clawson from OSU who is their Fermentation Science Plant Manager. Jeff talked about the 6 different beers we were going to brew that evening, as well as the red and white wines we were fermenting. He brought along several exotic varieties of hops from New Zealand that he wanted to test in 3 of the beers we were brewing that evening. To see what a difference they would make in three different styles of beers.

We broke up into teams of 5 and chose from 6 different beers to brew in 6 kettles. The beers ranged from a light pilsner to a dark Bavarian Ale. The ingredients were water, various malts, several different types of yeasts and different hops for different type of beers as well as grains in very small amounts.

Brewing is a mix of science and art, where minor differences in procedure or ingredients can make widely differing beers. Sanitation is most important and maintain as sterile conditions as possible must be applied in all brewing and fermentation procedures. Time and temperatures are also critical in making a consistent beer when adding ingredients to the wort and cooking them together.

I think the most interesting thing I learned was at the wine making station when we added oak chips to water and ground them up in a blender. Then added the chip emulsion to the red and white wines, to add that aged oaky flavor to the wines while they fermented.

Bottling of the beer is on November the 9th the day after the election. They are looking for another excellent turnout to bottle and drink beer that night for sure.

All participants will leave with a mixed case of beer and a great attitude.

Feed the Minds: Run for Food Science

SPI Group is proud to support Bruce Ferree in his run for Food Science Scholarships! 


Bruce is raising money for Feeding Tomorrow by committing to complete a 250 kilometer run across the Atacama Desert in northern Chile called the Atacama Crossing.  We are happy to that our supplier partner Saltwell is joining us in the sponsorship.


SPI Group has been actively involved in Bruce’s efforts, please contact us to learn more about it!

Just back from IFT15 in Chicago

The SPI Group team has just returned from Chicago, attending IFT 15!


Attendees that stopped at the Grande Custom Ingredients booth were treated to a high protein cucumber water, containing 10g of protein per 8 oz.  This refreshing beverage featured Grande Ultra, a clean, neutral-flavored whey protein isolate. We also enjoyed the high protein maple granola containing WP Crisp, which added a protein boost and a crunchy texture to the granola!

Over at the Wenda Ingredients booth, we were busy talking to customers about natural meat products, extending shelf life naturally with natural fruit and spice extracts, and all natural phosphate replacers.

IFT 2015

At the Saltwell booth, people were interested to learn about the sea salt with naturally reduced sodium content. Everyone in the Expo could smell the delicious sausages made with Z-trim, a fiber with unsurpassed water holding capacity that helps reduce cost and improve yield. Of course, lots of comments were overheard on the show floor about the Ghost pepper flavored soft serve, swirled with the pork belly flavored chocolate soft serve from Fontana Flavors. Fontana specializes in savory flavors and we were thrilled to see the unique savory/sweet combination!

Contact us for more information on any of the above applications or to learn more about IFT 15.

NCIFT Supplier’s Night and Symposium 2015

Did you know that there are more Empty Nesters (165 million) in the US than Singles (92 Million) and the third largest category is married couples with kids? And majority of us don’t eat as families anymore? And that the Millenials (age group from 18 to 33 years) prefer prepackaged ingredients and flavorings to use on a center-of-the-late protein or carbohydrate to create a more gourmet offering at home? And that 46% of men like to help prepare meals?

If you attended the NCIFT Symposium on May 6th you would have heard Elizabeth Sloan talk about these consumer and product trends. If you didn’t attend you can still get this great information by going to the NCIFT website and Liz’s entire presentation and audio can be reviewed.

NCIFT 2015

If you really want to know what is happening in the fastest growing categories of breakfast and snacks and why ”protein equals energy”contact your ingredient professionals at SPI Group. As shown by our new table top display(photo) we provided multiple protein, salt replacers and unique flavor alternatives for the over 300 attendees of the NCIFT Suppliers Expo. We have a lot to offer and we would like to share our knowledge and resources with you as well as our ingredients.

The Seismic Shift on How Consumers will Source Meals in the Future

I believe the best talk at the Intermountain IFT Suppliers show in Sun Valley this past week, was put on by Justin Shimek, the Chief Technology Officer with Mattson, located in the San Francisco Bay area. He gave a very informative talk about the direction consumers are heading to source their food.

Brick and mortar grocery stores and restaurant business are still going to increase. The change coming is in how their ingredients and meals are prepared and delivered to the customer. This change is already taking place in many metropolitan areas where delivery can be offered rather quickly and/or in the all area where frozen and refrigerated meals and meal kits can be delivered by standard carriers as well. Some food operations even guarantee they will get the meals to you in 20 minutes or less.

One new method aptly called is set it and forget it. It is where the customer subscribes to a service and like clockwork they deliver the ingredients or meals at set times. It can be daily, weekly or monthly.

Another method has more of a scratch cooking feel to it. This is where a manufacturer puts together meal kits. That are proportioned and premeasured, then shipped frozen or refrigerated to the customer, who simply put everything together according to the recipe included in the box.

The food on demand method is where the customer shops for groceries or meals online from a retail grocery store or a restaurant. It’s either delivered to the door or they can pick it up. The restaurants that are smart will utilize their kitchens during off hours of operation, to increase their profitability. Chefs will make hand make meals and send them via delivery truck to their customers.

So it appears restaurants are becoming more like manufacturing plants for meals and grocery store are becoming like distribution points for food ingredients.

The positive side of this trend is the customer feels like they are buying local, fresh and all natural products. It’s also about convenience, speed and variety of products available through these different channels.

A possible negative side effect that was mentioned was now the customers will only have one personal point of contact with the businesses that make and assemble their food order. That one point of interaction will be the delivery driver.

Someone mentioned that the liabilities of the contract delivery services have not been addressed properly. Who’s going to take the blame for food that goes bad in transit?