DSM talks how to overcome challenges in crafting complex flavors and textures in plant-based cheese
01 Sep 2022 --- Royal DSM has expanded its cheese portfolio into the growing plant-based market. The company has developed plant-based cheese ingredients by creating “the most realistic” manufactured cheese in taste, appearance, texture and nutritious value.
“The plant-based movement has been shaping our industry for years now but innovation in plant-based cheese has been hampered by difficult formulation challenges – particularly around taste and texture, ”Andre de Haan, business director of cheese at DSM, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
The plant-based cheese hype
In 2021 alone, 388 plant-based cheese companies launched globally. The plant-based cheese industry is increasing retail value by about 9% annually, according to DSM.
However, even with so many brands innovating plant-based cheeses, very few have been able to mimic the real thing.
FoodIngredientsFirst. Consumers “expect the same variety of flavors and formats of plant-based alternatives that exist for dairy cheese.”“Dairy cheese is another space where industry innovation still has a long way to go,” reports
A recent study by Kerry found that cheese has an emotional impact on the consumer. Cheese flavors are associated with indulgence, comfort and freshness, making it a valuable savor in the market.
That is one of the reasons consumers long for that natural cheese flavor from their plant-based counterparts. However, since the dairy taste, aroma and texture profile are so unique, formulation challenges often occur.
Innova Market Insights reported that one in three consumers in India would not buy 100% plant-based alternatives “because of poor taste and texture.”
“Consumers are asking more of their plant-based alternatives, and plant-based cheese has – until now – presented a significant challenge in crafting complex flavors with a familiarly cheese-like texture,” says de Haan.
“Perfecting the cheese”
DSM’s plant-based cheese ingredient portfolio includes gouda, cheddar, shredded mozzarella, parmesan and cream cheeses.
“DSM’s goal is to help consumers ‘enjoy it all’ without compromising on taste, texture or health. Our commitment to reach 150 million people with delicious, nutritious and sustainable plant-based foods by 2030 also inspires us to innovate in this category,” says de Haan.
The cheese model was created by using masking agents to cover up the overpowering raw materials, adding yeast extracts for the savory flavor, processing the flavors, and, lastly, rounding up with plant-based top notes to achieve the right flavor.
To achieve the correct color, DSM used beta-carotene. This ingredient is a type of carotenoid pigment found in plants. It is red-orange and gets broken down into vitamin A when in the body.
The type of cheese that DSM mimicked would affect the amount of pigment used. It used a variety of color solutions ranging from yellow to orange, dependent on the natural color of the cheese.
Another obstacle producers need to work around is the fact that real cheese has many more vitamins and minerals, the company stresses.
DSM uses a nutritional premix that includes vitamins A, B2, B12, calcium, iodine, selenium and zinc – all of which are present in natural dairy products.
“This new portfolio for plant-based cheese can really help producers take a big step toward pleasing the palates of today’s sophisticated consumers,” ensures de Haan.
Growing plant-based trends
De Haan highlights the company’s future innovation plans for the plant-based dairy industry by helping brands and products with further development.
“It’s our hope that this latest offering will inspire more innovation in the plant-based cheese category….plant-based cheese is yet to enjoy widespread, global appeal as formulation challenges have prevented brands from achieving the full sensory experience,” de Haan continues.
DSM recently partnered with Fonterra to develop fermentation-derived ingredients with dairy-like properties. Through its research, the company has already filed patents on “valuable intellectual property,” potentially meaning more is coming from DSM regarding plant-based dairy.
“We are already working on developing new types of cheese alternatives to add to the sliced gouda and cheddar, shredded mozzarella, parmesan and cream cheese prototypes created with this new portfolio,” says de Haan.
ADM and New Culture is one example of a partnership created to develop cow-free casein and dairy replacement products. Through commercializing animal-free mozzarella in the US foodservice market, the companies are starting by targeting pizzerias in 2023.
According to Innova Market Insights, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2017 and 2021 for food and beverage with plant-based claims was higher than 69%.
From 2022 to 2030, the plant-based food market is expected to have a CAGR of 10.6%.
“As populations continue to grow and require adequate nutrition… protein diversification will be an international focus and a cornerstone to the plant-based movement. The nutritional value of plant-based foods will be an increasing focus in this area,” emphasizes de Haan.
By Sabine Waldeck
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