New meat alternative on market has roots in low-fat milk

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Related tags: Arla food ingredients, Milk, Campina

New applications for milk derivatives open up as Dutch dairy giant
Campina designs meat alternative prepared from low-fat milk and
seaweed extract.

Rolled out onto the Dutch market yesterday, the Valess product with fibres 'compared to a small chicken' will target the growing market for meat substitutes, currently dominated by soy products.

Containing 4 per cent fat (9 per cent for crumbed varieties), Valess is formulated with 3 per cent food fibre (seaweed extract) and 15 to 16 per cent milk protein.

In addition to meat alternative openings, the reduced fat formulation provides Campina with new opportunities in the growing weight- and health-conscious consumer markets.

Made from zero per cent fat milk, the only fat present comes from sunflower oil, used to give the pre-heated product a brownish hue.

"The process is like making cheese. After the separation into curds and whey, the seafood extract is added to the curds. This changes the curd texture into a fibrous structure,"​ a spokesperson for Valess told FoodNavigator.com.

With the Valess range of ready-to-cook meat replacers, Campina will be looking to slice into the market for soy based meat free alternatives. Analysts Prosoy​ pitched market growth for soy based products at well over 10 per cent in 2002, topping €1.5 billion in 2003.

"Our researchers track down the healthy building blocks and valuable properties of milk, then respond to consumer needs with the introduction of new products,"​ said Piet Hilarides, Campina's group director.

A soft launch for the product, Valess is initially only available in The Netherlands, with a possible European roll out slated for 2006.

Tackling increasing pressure from powerful and globalised customers, at the end of last year Campina announced plans to merge with Denmark's Arla Foods to become the world's largest farmer-owned dairy company.

Combined the two leading European dairy co-operatives with 27,000 employees, to be called Campina Arla, will have annual revenues of €10bn.

The ingredients division, that includes Campina-owned DMV and the Danish dairy groups Arla Food Ingredients would contribute about a tenth of this figure, some €1.38 billion, rolling over 665 000 tonnes of ingredients.

Both ingredients arms - rooted in dairy based ingredients - told FoodNavigator.com it was too early to comment on the impact the merger might have on their business structure.

Among DMV's range, that contributed €500m to Campina's €3.7 billion turnover, is its natural milk protein lactoferrin product, a leading player in the burgeoning value-added whey fractions market currently enjoying strong growth, in some parts of the world hitting 20 per cent per year.

Arla Food ingredients is enjoying growing attention for its low calorie sweetener tagatose, not yet approved on EU markets the sweetener is used in a growing number of food formulations in the US as food makers develop their product line to feed the increasingly health-conscious consumer.

At €6.2 billion in dairy turnover for 2003 Arla Foods, against Campina's €3.7 billion, would contribute the largest chunk to the merger.

Related topics: Ingredients, Fresh Milk

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