Not only are more and more vegan foods available globally, consumer expectations on flavor, texture and enjoyment are also changing.
For the wide spectrum of dairy alternatives, German company Hydrosol has developed individual stabilizing and texturing systems that give products properties that are very close to those of products made from cow’s milk.
Dr Dorotea Pein, innovation and product manager for dairy products said in developing stabilizing and texturing systems, the company is addressing the latest trends, such as for protein-rich products, and vegan foods fortified with vitamins and minerals that compensate for potential nutritional deficiencies, which can also be tailored to specific target groups.
Possible products include vegan desserts for children, and milk-free drinks for athletes and seniors. Hydrosol works closely with its sister company, SternVitamin, to offer vitamin enrichment specifically for the needs of vegans.
This includes fermented desserts based on alternatives like almond. A functional system of modified starch, hydrocolloids and plant fibers lets manufacturers adjust products to get a texture comparable to yogurt; and a creamy, smooth consistency and authentic flavor are characteristic of vegan cheese alternatives made with stabilizing systems from Hydrosol’s Stabisol range.
For drinking beverages, Hydrosol works with alternatives not only to animal milk, but also to soy. A current example is a drink based on sunflower and oats. Functional systems for soft-melt, creamy vegan ice cream alternatives round out the product line.
Hydrosol’s products are also available for a range of dairy products.
Differences in Asia
Hydrosol’s Katharina Schäfer told DairyReporter the company’s products, for both vegan and dairy applications, are available for export to the Asian market, and highly applicable to innovation there.
“In Asia Pacific we have a high amount of vegans and we've seen a growing demand, and in China many people are sensitive or intolerant to lactose. So this is a major point for vegan alternatives,” Schäfer said.
She added sometimes the taste profile or products in Asia has to be adapted.
“The texture is special and we wouldn't think just of vegan products. In dairy products like yogurt in Asia you see a demand for whipped yogurt, so it's a special texture.”
Working with different parameters
The entire continent has potential for introduction of Hydrosol’s products, for both dairy and dairy-alternative products.
“We see potential for vegan products, with maybe a different form, from country to country. If we get a request from a customer from Malaysia, then we develop something special for him, tailor made, to sell this product in the Malaysian market,” Schäfer explained.
“For formulation, it always depends on the machines the customer has, and this is something maybe that could differ from region to region.”
Given the differences in consumer taste, and geography of Asia, products have to work in a wide range of different parameters.
“They have to be flexible in a wide range, but if we have something very specific, like you need to be stable at 45 degrees Celsius for three months, then this is something we also have to test.”
Schäfer said innovation takes place at Hydrosol on a day-by-day basis.
“We have a tasting here every morning, we have many new products coming up.
“You can't just do one trial and then you have the perfect product. We also need to verify those with stability tests and this is something we are looking at every day. “
Need for testing
As dairy alternatives can come from a variety of plant sources, testing is also crucial.
“Every kind of protein source has specific properties, with nutritional values and also the functionality. So this is why we always have to test our proteins in every application.
Schäfer said the vegan space can be more challenging, in part because the company has been working in the dairy space for many years.
“With these new protein sources coming up you always have to test every parameter,” she said.
“Sometimes you have problems with the color of the product, like protein sources bringing in a tint of gray, or an off taste, and there you need to have quite good solutions, because quality is of course of importance.”