Costa Rican omega-3 milk irons out UHT problems

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk

Austrian-based microencapsulation specialist, GAT Food Essentials, is supplying latin America’s largest dairy with an omega-3 form that is allowing the dairy to offer a difficult to achieve, non-chilled milk containing both iron and the healthy lipid.

The Costa Rican dairy, Dos Pinos, sampled the product in select outlets over the summer, and has followed that with a full-scale supermarket launch of the product, Cardilac, that is being marketed with a heart health claim.

GAT general manager, Stefan Thueringer, said Dos Pinos was impressed by the fact GAT could guarantee a four-month shelf life for Cardilac with no processing or machinery changes required to accommodate the ingredient.

The product, which employs a Norwegian fish oil encapsulated by GAT, had to overcome the difficulty of incorporating omega-3 and iron in one product, because as Thueringer told, “iron and omega-3 don’t go well together”.

The company’s encapsulation experts were able to find a way to incorporate the ingredient along with iron whilst dealing with the heat-related demands of UHT to make it central and south America’s first UHT milk with both omega-3 and boosted iron levels.

GAT latin America spokesperson, Andreas Vinueza, said the challenge was such that the companies had worked together for almost three years to resolve the formulation difficulties using GAT’s wowCAPS technology.

Cardilac is selling for $1.35 (about 800 Costa Rican colons) for a one-litre Tetra pak, with EPA/DHA dosage at 37.5mg per 250ml.

“Dos Pinos is very pleased to once again innovate with healthy products and be a pioneer in the introduction of functional ingredients in a very popular product such as milk, in order to provide the Costa Rican population with a better nutrition to achieve health,”​ said Milagro Mora, corporate nutritionist at Dos Pinos.

Packaging for the zero-fat milk features a heart logo and there is a strong accent on cardiovascular disease reduction in the promotional literature

Omega-3 milk

Omega-3 milk is not new – there are many and a UHT omega-3 milk offered by Spanish dairy, Ebro Puleva, notches sales of about $150m.

But that product, and the technology Puleva exports to other dairies, employs a different technology that replaces milk fats with fatty acids.

GAT’s method adds the ingredient to the milk formula which it says is an advantage because production lines do not have to be modified to bring the ingredient onboard.

Thueringer said GAT supplied an Australian dairy that had a nine-month shelf life in Australia.

He said its wowCAPS technology had been applied to other ingredients like flax and the company had supplied about 10 dairies.

Although the company is based in Austria it does most of its business in the US and latin America as well as Australia and New Zealand, and said uncertainty created by the EU health claims situation was a major reason why this was so.

“We have put a lot of effort into latin America in the past few years,”​ he said. “If you look at a country like Mexico – there are 100m people there and three dairies. If you can partner with one of those dairies there are big markets.”

GAT is also working with Colanta, the Columbian dairy that this week announced a co-branding deal with Benecol-owner Raisio, on a range of plant stanol, cholesterol-lowering products.

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