DSM’s new quark cultures give consumers high protein dairy choices
While popular in parts of Europe, it is yet to fully catch on in the UK and US.
Difficulty with marketing the fresh cheese product due to consumer uncertainty over exactly what it is and how to use it, and some negativity around its taste, means that quark is still a pretender to the Greek yogurt crown.
However, that may be about to change thanks to new developments from Dutch company DSM Food Specialties.
DSM has optimized its DelvoFresh range of quark cultures to address what it says are consumer demands for smoother, creamier quark with a mild flavor.
“Better-for-you continues to be the ‘mega trend’ in the food and beverage industry, changing the way consumers respond to, purchase and consume different dairy products,” Cecile Aubert, global product application expert at DSM Food Specialties, told DairyReporter.
It’s important, when developing products for food, to be ahead of the curve, rather than reacting to trends. It means companies such as DSM need to trend watch.
“We talk to customers, and we look carefully at the market trends. People are looking for more indulgent produce, and quark can be used a snack, but it needed to be smoother and creamier, and milder, closer to yogurt,” Aubert said.
DSM’s senior external communications manager Jose Roseboom said, “We help our dairy producers with market trends, and because we work globally we can also share best practice from other countries and translate them to their countries. We help them improve their processes, differentiate a product, but also with our insights and expertise in market knowledge.”
Quark demand rising
Thanks to the rising demand for sugar-free, high protein-snacks by health-conscious consumers, the interest for quark is increasing, even outside traditional markets such as Eastern and Northern Europe.
It’s so popular in Eastern Europe that PepsiCo and Danone have taken over quark-producing companies there.
Making changes for consumers
But it wasn’t always that way. Interest in quark was low, partly due to availability, and also due to consumers in many countries being unfamiliar with it.
“Quark was not a priority a few years ago and both producers and consumers did not pay as much attention to it,” Aubert told DairyReporter.
“One or two years ago, we started to see some activity with quark,” she added.
“And then we were approached by some customers looking for solutions to get lighter and smoother quark.
“After multiple conversations with various customers, they said they didn't like the cheesy taste, people want it to be mild, clean, like a yogurt.”
Range of cultures
DSM has a range of cultures for quark. Aubert says the reason is the variety of quark products available, and how the consumer uses it. Quark is eaten for breakfast in Germany, but as a snack in France where it's mixed with yogurt.
She added that it’s used a lot in the Netherlands for cooking, and in Poland and Russia.
What is quark?
A fresh cheese-like product, popular in parts of Europe and growing in popularity elsewhere due to its nutritional value
A very thick product due to its high protein content
Taste varies between producers and because of the region
Can be either clean and fresh or more aromatic, sometimes with a cheesy taste for the low fat version
High in protein, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B, low in fat
“And it can address all the categories, not just women, but men and children,” Aubert said.
“It's good for sport, for healthy snacking, it's a good healthy product for children. It's natural and it's very clean label.”
Not just quark
Roseboom said consumer demands change all the time.
“Some of them are just hype but some really change the way consumers eat or drink, or snack. Breakfast demands change, and we have to take these trends into our innovation.
“We are working towards better food that meets consumers' needs. Better can be healthier, reduced fat, salt or sugar, but it can also be more affordable. We have solutions for longer shelf life, so better can mean different things.”
Benefits of new DSM cultures
The cultures enable a shorter fermentation time and yield improvement compared to the cultures available on the market. DSM’s offering includes customized solutions that allow producers to differentiate on flavor, taste and/or texture, from a mild, natural quark to a more ‘on-the-go’ quark mixed with a yogurt product.
“It can be quickly integrated into the process to differentiate the end product in terms of taste and texture,” Aubert said.
“What's very important for the producers is to have new products following the market trends, but there's a big problem with milk prices, and producers are looking for better cost solutions, to decrease their cost,” she added.
Posted by Oyaye Yusuf Scheuber,