Kerry ingredient tackles ice-cream cost, output issues

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk, Nutrition

Kerry is launching a new functional system called Sherex Enlite to
improve creaminess, stability and shelf life of ice-cream - and
which has proved particularly effective in low-fat ice creams.

Traditional ice-cream is very dependant on manufacturing temperature and fat and milk solids to deliver the expected creaminess and a stable network of air bubbles and crystals. But the huge rise in dairy prices over the past year, coupled with the lowering of permitted fat content levels in ice cream from eight to five percent, means that manufacturers face difficulties in making products that meet consumer expectations. One way they have sought to get around this has been to reduce the temperature of the extrusion process to between -10 and -15 degrees C (14-5 degrees F). This adjustment that means less fat and milk solids are needed to produce the bubble and crystal network, but it requires special freezing equipment. The problem with this, however, is that the lower temperature results in less ice-cream output, so manufacturers do not have so much flexibility to up production in hot weather, when consumer demand tends to soar. Kerry's answer to this issue lies in its new proprietary blend of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers. It says that the addition of Sherex Enlite means manufacturers can continue to work at normal manufacturing temperatures of -4 to -6 degrees C (25-21 F) but without so much fat and milk solids. Not only does this allow them to save money on pricey dairy ingredients, but capacity can also be increased. Kerry's strategic marketing director Karl Burkitt said: "Sherex Enlite applies to all ice-cream, yet we are especially pleased with its effectiveness in the fastest growing segment of low fat ice-creams, typically less than five percent fat." ​ A second benefit of the new system comes into play when the product is hardened in a hardening tunnel. This stage is required to lock the air and ice crystal structure in place so that it will survive the rigours of distribution and storage. Usually ice-cream is chilled in the tunnel until it gets down to a temperature of about -30 degrees C (22 F). But Sherex Enlite is said to give the ice-cream an inherent structure, so that it only needs to get down to about -10 degrees C (14 F) in the tunnel, which takes less time. The seocnd stage of the hardening then takes place in freezer storage. At times of high demand, this eases the bottleneck that can be caused by capacity of the hardening tunnels. It is far easier to increase capacity of freezer storage for second stage hardening at times of high demand than it is to bring new tunnels on line. A third benefit is in the area of heat shock prevention, which can occur during storage and distribution. Again, the result of this can be loss of creaminess, shrinkage, and shelf-life reduction. This can have considerable cost implications for the manufacturer. In addition to the cost and regulatory concerns of manufacturers, there is a general consumer sway towards low-fat alternatives to favorite indulgent products. However it is of paramount importance for manufacturers looking to reformulate products along healthier lines that they retain suitable sensory characteristics, as consumers expect products to be as close as possible to the original. Of the air cell stability enabled by Sherex Enlite, Burkitt said it "helps to ensure consumer appeal and repurchase, rather than consumers trying out several brands to check which tastes closest to the full fat versions usually preferred."​ The product's launch to the global food industry took place at Inter-Ice in Cologne, Germany, last week.

Related topics: Ingredients

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