According to a report from the Germany-based consumer research corporation Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK), older consumers – age 70 or above – are now seeking meat-free alternatives.
GfK said this indicates members of this age group attach more importance to their health than do younger people – an interpretation supported by the fact that the percentage of flexitarians in the 70-plus age group is nearly twice as high as in the under-40 group.
However, while the health aspect is important to consumers, so are taste and texture.
ICL Food Specialties and Porlammin said their product, Bekaplus DV 170, is a vegan substitute that offers all the qualities consumers expect from traditional hard cheese – from melting behavior and consistency to the look and feel.
Dr Andrea Maurer, global lead market segment dairy at ICL Food Specialties, said Bekaplus DV 170 allows products to be easily made.
The Finnish cooperative Porlammin said, following an increase in demand for vegan alternatives, it chose to collaborate with ICL Food Specialties to bring out Vege as a vegan alternative to its most popular product, “black-label Emmental cheese” (Mustaleima Emmental juusto).
Production consists of coconut fat and Bekaplus heated to 40 and then to 85 degrees Celsius (104 and 185 degrees Fahrenheit), then mixed together at 1,500 and subsequently 3,000 RPM. The resulting fluid mass is then allowed to cool for six days, producing a mixture that can be molded into nearly any desired form.
The vegan cheese alternative ‘Vege’ is sold in 150-gram blocks, Porlammin’s Catarina Holmsten-Carrizo said.
“The response has been overwhelming; no other product has been so positively received. Customers praise not just the taste, but also and especially the consistency – which matches what they know and love about classic cheese.”
Holmsten-Carrizo said cost was a factor when developing the product. She said the company decided to work with ICL and Bekaplus because the product could be manufactured with existing machinery.
More alternatives coming
Maurer said German grocery stores are ready for more products for flexitarians and vegans.
“The success in Finland proves it, and we’re now working to market follow-up products throughout Europe.”
For Porlammin, too, Vege is not the first and last product.
Holmsten-Carrizo said: “Right now we’re refining the taste of the original product and enriching it with Vitamin D and calcium. Needless to say, in the future we’d love to be able to offer many more types of cheese alternatives.”