Danisco has obtained a patent in Great Britain for a dairy replacement technology aimed at both the cost and health concerns of ice cream makers.
The company has been working on the Grinstead IcePro stabiliser systems technology for two years, initially releasing the product as a means for fat reduction, whilst reducing any possible loss in quality and texture as a result.
On the market since December 2006, Danisco says the product has also enjoyed success as a cost effective dairy replacement, amidst growing concerns by producers over the current price of milk.
Prices for class II milk 3.5 per cent often used in ice cream rose to $17.50 per cwt by mid-July 2007 from $13.50 per cwt at the time of the product's launch, Danisco said.
According to the company, unstable dairy costs present a particular headache for ice cream makers as it is difficult to avoid using butterfat and dairy solids without impacting taste. However, the Denmark-based group says that the IcePro system allows manufacturers to use less dairy ingredients - thus safeguarding them from unprecedented price fluctuations.
Jennifer Lindsey, Danisco's dairy industry manager called the net effect is "a cost-reduction, not quality reduction".
In addition to improving the health and wellness profile of products by reducing fat, Lindsey added: "It also has the added benefit of protecting against the quality defects found commonly in ice cream over the course of the product's shelf life."
As dairy commodity costs continue to rocket, a growing number of companies including National Starch and hydrocolloid firm Gum Technology have all released products that can decrease a processor's reliance on milks and butterfat.
In August last year, dairy groups including Danone, Kraft and New Zealand-based Fonterra all announced that unprecedented hikes in milk costs were forcing them to review their production strategies for the future.
It is this environment that group-marketing director Jens Holstborg believes makes obtaining patents increasingly important in order to establish the company's presence in a segment heavily reliant on processing innovation.
Holstborg added that although obtaining the patent was a first for the Grinstead IcePro stabilizer systems technology, further applications were pending in other territories to target manufacturers desperate to further drive cost efficiency in milk supply.
Danisco initially introduced the Grinsted IcePro system in 2004 as a stabiliser/emulsifier system that protects ice cream through multiple heat shock cycles.
Temperature fluctuations in the environment surrounding the ice cream, such as those present during distribution and home storage cause ice crystal growth.
Throughout shelf life, ice crystals continue to grow, eventually becoming detectable within the mouth. When this occurs, a once smooth textured ice cream becomes rough textured and its flavour can taste off.
The company estimates that ice cream produced with Grinsted IcePro stabilisers had ice crystal growth that was 37 to 57 percent smaller than ice cream produced with conventional stabilisers.