Flexitarian, vegetarian, pescotarian, climatarian or vegan. More and more people tend to have an increasingly plant based diet, due to different reasons. It’s clear that meat is pushed aside by meat substitutes. The product range in grocery stores is expanding, shelve space is growing, and gets a more prominent place in shops. This “vegetable based’ trend also expresses itself to the dairy market. Next to that there is the so called ‘’free-from’’ trend which increases the popularity of gluten- and lactose free product varieties. In addition to these trend based reasons for the increasing demand for plant based dairy products there is the huge group of lactose intolerant world citizens: in Asia and Africa more than 90 percent of the people is lactose-intolerant. Plenty of reasons to make of, for example, vegetable yogurt a big success.
At this moment in time the product range is pretty limited. On the website of Albert Heijn supermarket 199 different varieties of yogurt can be found, of which only 14 are plant based. These varieties are made of soy, oats, coconut or almonds. When these products aren’t held together by a range of stabilisers and other additives they tend to contain less protein, more sugars and more unsaturated fats than dairy yoghurt. It can be argued that the ideal replacement is yet to be found.
Yogurt is a complex product. The design of a dairy yogurt substitute asks for the scientific analysis of dairy yogurt. Ingredient specific physical chemical properties have to be translated to unique sensory properties of yogurt. After that the acquired information can be used in the search for the best vegetable ingredients that can mimic these properties. Because yogurt is made by fermenting pasteurized milk by lactic acid bacteria the composition of the product changes during manufacturing. Therefore the initial properties, the available microbial nutrients and the fermentation properties are of utmost importance in the choice of ingredients and micro organisms used in the production process.
A nice challenge which we at TOP accepted in collaboration with Inholland during the Green Juniors project, last autumn. At this moment we are working out the acquired results in more detail to obtain the desired product formulation. We are focussing on a tasty and healthy, vegetable, fermented full-fat yogurt alternative.