Some consumers consider plant-based drinks a direct substitute for milk. However, their formulation and processing present unique challenges. Factors such as plant source, fat and protein levels, and the addition of consumer desired components mean processing parameters must be adjusted and perhaps stabilizers required. This presentation presents examples of common to unexpected complications in developing alternative dairy products and suggests successful resolutions. It touches briefly on the growing interest in beverages containing botanicals and nutraceutical ingredients traditionally used in dietary supplements.
Lindsay Wisener, MSc, Owner & Lead Product Developer, WiseBev, “Technical Challenges of Alternative Dairy Beverages + A Comment on Botanicals,” Speaker at the 2022 Clean Label Conference.
Extract from Summary of this Presentation titled: Technical Challenges of Alternative Dairy Beverages
When formulating alternative milks, raw material selection is critical to product functionality, marketing and branding. For instance, what is the goal regarding claims? Will added sugar, which requires labeling, be a problem?
Chemical composition considerations include determining desired protein, insoluble fiber, sugar and fat content—plus the type of starch (i.e., gelling characteristics, reaction to heat, etc.). Several protein sources may be combined to boost protein, as in the Silk Protein product (see chart “Nutrition in Marketplace Alternative Milks”), which contains almond, cashew and pea to boost the protein to its 10g target, Wisener noted.
When developing an oat milk-based product, starch inherent in oats will gel, unless it is hydrolyzed. When hydrolyzed, the resulting ingredient is labeled as “partially hydrolyzed whole oat flour.” This causes somewhat of a paradox. First, is this considered a clean label? Secondly, the hydrolysis process results in added sugars.
Physical characteristics, such as particle size must also be considered. For example, a nut butter used in a bar isn’t the correct particle size for a beverage. “Some particles are so big…they aren’t going to result in good products, and they’re not going to process well,” Wisener explained.