Food Business News - July 10, 2018 - 74
and drinks that align with their holistic
health and wellness goals as well as those
that are more sustainable or environmentally conscious," said Mark Rainey, chief
marketing officer for the Archer Daniels
Midland Co., Chicago. "Plant-based foods
and drinks, including dairy analogs, align
nicely with consumer demand."
Ivan Gonzales, marketing director
- dairy, Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill.,
added, "Consumers have complex reasons
for choosing alternative dairy products,
and they expect a lot from them."
In July 2016, Ingredion conducted
focus groups with consumers in the United States and Canada who are frequent
purchasers of alternative dairy products.
The research showed consumers often
Dairy alternatives have competed with
the dairy category for years, but the battle
has intensified as dairy alternatives have
expanded into new categories.
focus on what the products do not contain - that what's absent from a label is
as important as what's included.
"The research also showed us that
many consumers are turning to alternative dairy products for health reasons,
ranging from lactose intolerance to digestive issues," Mr. Gonzales said. "Consumers told us that alternative dairy products
add nutrition to their diets, and they view
these products as healthier options than
traditional dairy. Some choose alternative
dairy products for what they view as ethical and sustainability reasons."
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Consumers who regularly choose
alternative dairy products are intentional - not impulse - buyers, according to
Ingredion's research. They place higher
importance on perceived health benefits
and the origins of what they consume.
"A clean label is expected in this segment, but there is a texture and flavor gap
that consumers would like to see closed,"
Mr. Gonzales said. "Getting the sensory
aspects right without compromising
nutrition and label expectations will help
manufacturers differentiate themselves
and win with these discerning consumers."
When developing an alternative,
formulators must start at the end and
work backwards. The process requires
trying to reproduce a dairy product using
non-dairy ingredients. Formulators need
to identify the target finished product
as well as develop a list of formulation
goals. Is the objective to be low-cost?
Allergen free? Vegan? Knowing the target consumer and potential application
or use for the analog is paramount, too.
Will it be a cheese analog consumed on
its own, or will it be used in recipes?
"Understanding the needs of the
market can eliminate many issues
further down the line," Ms. Warren
said. "We worked with a customer who
wanted to make a cheddar-type product
for the Middle Eastern market."
Knowing the taste preferences of
this demographic, Edlong designed
the product to be mild in flavor with a
creamy texture. If the target market had
been the U.K., Ms. Warren said it would
have had to be a much sharper, almost
savory and meaty-type cheddar profile.
"Innovations in raw materials and
consumers' changing attitudes toward
foods have seen analog products gain
traction," Ms. Warren said. "The great
benefit of analogs is flexibility. It is a category that has taken on new life because
it offers flexibility to change fat, water
and protein sources and ratios."
Brian Riesterer, manager of dairy
innovation, First Choice Ingredients,
Germantown, Wis., said, "Composition
comes first. It's imperative to have an understanding of how individual protein,
fat and carbohydrates interact."
Alternatives allow developers the
flexibility to manipulate nutrition profiles. They also enable developers to experiment with new flavors and textures
in unexpected ways.
When making real dairy foods, the
flavor is part of the base, which is cream
or milk. When making an analog, it is
often best the base be as neutral tasting
as possible and then flavor gets layered
into it. The appearance, mouthfeel and
texture of the base should mimic the
dairy product counterpart. Flavor release
and aroma are also key considerations.
"Don't make flavor an afterthought,"
Ms. Warren said. "Process and raw materials can have a huge impact on taste."
Even the slightest change in the
July 10, 2018