As consumer interest in sustainability and plant-based proteins increases, and people choose allergen-free beverage options because someone in their household has a sensitivity or they believe products free from dairy and soy are healthier, plant-based alternative milk products have grown in popularity. Almond, cashew, soy, and rice milks have become popular fill-ins for dairy-based milk and are no longer considered products just for vegans.
“Dairy beverage alternatives are just the beginning. In the coming years, we expect an increase in demand for alternative yogurts, cheese-type products, frozen desserts, and much more,” says Sean McHenry, Technical Manager of L.V. Lomas. “However, it isn’t easy to formulate a product that is stable, homogeneous, and has an appealing taste and mouthfeel. That’s where L.V. Lomas can really help.”
Understanding the root of the stability challenge for milk alternatives is the key to developing a successful product. Each milk, whether it be almond, soy, rice, or another product, and the related processing parameters, presents its own set of obstacles that must be overcome. Utilizing the optimal stabilizer in precise concentration for each milk alternative is paramount to creating a beverage that delivers an enjoyable experience to the consumer.
“With improvements in both flavor and texture, there seems to be no end in sight to what can be used as the main ingredient in alternative milks,” says McHenry. “We offer a range of ingredients, including some clean label options, which can stabilize proteins and emulsions as well as improve the flavor of plant proteins.”
The boom in nut, soy, and rice milk products has shown no sign of slowing, with the dairy alternatives market expected to exceed $35 billion by 2024. Natural food brands all over the country are creating products in line with this trend with marketing tactics focused on improving consumer health. These non-traditional ingredients require stabilizers that not only improve the taste and texture of the food product, but are also safe to the consumer and do not undermine the health goals of animal-based food alternatives.
The classic ingredient for these types of products is carrageenan, which L.V. Lomas can provide. Understanding that some manufacturers may prefer a different approach to plant-based milks, L.V. Lomas can also offer reformulation assistance with alternate stabilizers such as gellan gum which L.V. Lomas is proud to supply from CP Kelco.
“At L.V. Lomas, we provide a variety of ingredients that are well suited to be used in these types of products, particularly the gums used to stabilize the product and some of the plant-based proteins,” says McHenry. “We realize people are looking for healthier options and we want to be at the forefront of offering this to the public through a variety of products and flavors. Today’s customers are asking for more than just raw materials by requesting ideas to innovate, improve, and develop products to better their business and even explore untapped markets.”