no comments

3 Ways to Functionally Enhance Dairy Products

Milk and milk-derived products comprise the dairy products category. This broad product basket encompasses fresh milk, butter, soft cheese, aged cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and powdered milk, among others.


Dairy products are considered excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B12, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. They also supply essential macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fat.


A dairy product manufacturer doesn’t have to rely on naturally occurring macronutrient and micronutrient ratios. One can create nutritionally superior dairy products by working with adairy ingredients company.


Why Enhance and Fortify?


Food fortification is adding nutrients (typically vitamins and minerals) to food products to improve their naturally occurring micronutrient ratios or imbue them with nutrients that are otherwise not present in their natural state.


For instance, milk may contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, but it lacks vitamin D, which helps calcium get absorbed into the bones. To provide maximum bone benefits, milk should ideally contain vitamin D and calcium. This is why most milk products get artificially fortified with vitamin D.


With or without vitamin D (and other additional nutrients), however, milk is still nutritious and a good source of nutrition. Why, then, do dairy product manufacturers still find it necessary to fortify their products?


Efficiency is the answer. Food fortification is an excellent way to increase the nutritional quality and impact of food products. Thus, deeming food fortification as a cost-effective strategy to counter vitamin and mineral (i.e., micronutrient) deficiencies in the global population, the World Health Organization is pushing for large-scale food fortification measures. In line with this, some states have started mandating food fortification.


In the case of dairy products, specifically, fortification helps manufacturers ensure their products can live up to their expected nutritional quality. Processing (e.g., pasteurisation, ultra-heat treatment, spray drying, etc.) can lead to micronutrient and macronutrient depletion or dilution. Fortification allows manufacturers to reverse the adverse effects of processing on their products’ natural nutritive values.


Finally, fortification can boost a product’s competitive advantage. A greater number of nutrients and higher micronutrient and macronutrient ratios can be a product’s unique selling proposition. For instance, if a yoghurt has the most vitamin D and calcium content in its product category, it can be marketed as the best in its class for stronger bones.


Dairy product manufacturers also often enhance not only their products’ nutritional quality but also other characteristics like mouthfeel, longevity, colour, and flavour. Enhancements to improve longevity (i.e., that will prevent spoilage) are primarily performed to reduce food loss, which is equivalent to business loss. Improvements to texture, colour and flavour, meanwhile, are necessary to improve consumer preference and expand market share.


Specific Ways Dairy Product Manufacturers Enhance and Fortify Their Products


Dairy product manufacturers employ one or a combination of these strategies to improve their products.


1.     Micronutrient Premixes


The nutritional fortification of dairy products is nothing new. In fact, according to Future Market Insights, the global market for fortified dairy products, estimated to be valued at $109,485 million in 2021, is expected to expand at a 6.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and reach $223,441 by 2032. Riding on this trend (and the assumed underlying demand for nutritious dairy products that drives it), manufacturers fortify their dairy products.


For convenience, they can use a ready-made micronutrient premix. The manufacturer of a slimming milk drink marketed to the weight loss and weight management diet market can use the SternVitamin Nutrition Balancer premix. It contains vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, thiamine, folate, zinc, and other nutrients typically found wanting or deficient in people following a weight loss plan.


Meanwhile, a product targeted towards university students and young professionals can be fortified with the SternVitamin Brain Power premix. Formulated with green tea extract, zinc, taurine, vitamin B5, iodine, and inositol, this premix can improve a person’s memory and concentration.


Dairy product manufacturers can create their own formulations instead of relying on available premixes, but this strategy requires more time. They must conduct laboratory research on formulations to develop an effective ingredients mix.


It is more practical to use premixes. Manufacturers can tweak existing premix formulations to suit their preferences and desired application.


2.     Protective Culture


In Europe, 20% of dairy products — equivalent to 29 million tonnes of products — become lost or wasted annually. Including other food products, the annual food loss or waste rate is 33% to 40%.


Food loss is the reduction in edible food mass upstream or the production and processing phase, before it arrives in the grocery store, and this is a cause for concern in dairy products manufacturing. Data from Coresight indicate manufacturing is responsible for 14% of food loss. It is a crucial metric because food loss represents wasted ingredients, labour, and other resources.


To decrease food loss in the manufacturing stage (as well as further downstream, say, after retail when the product reaches the end consumers), manufacturers can enhance their products with protective culturesthat can inhibit the growth of yeast and mouldsthat lead to spoilage.


Protective cultures are particularly useful in the manufacture of fermented dairy products, like yoghurt, sour cream and cottage cheese. They can control unwanted microorganisms without significantly impacting product properties (e.g., taste and texture). Finally, they are a natural alternative to chemical protective solutions that can delay fermentation and, thus, production.


3.     Texturants


Texture, also known as mouthfeel, is a significant component of what consumers perceive about dairy products and is one of the primary reasons a consumer is likely to enjoy or hate a dairy product.


While consumers are unlikely to focus on a milk drink or cheese’s mouthfeel characteristics, they typically notice them when they’re subpar or inferior to what they have been accustomed to or learned to expect. Therefore, texture plays a vital role in ensuring that consumers will perceive dairy products as delicious.


Dairy product manufacturers, in particular, should know what their consumers expect their products to feel like. Do they expect the cheese to be hard or soft, chewy or crumbly? Do they expect the yoghurt to be thick and creamy or thin and lumpy?


Once the manufacturer has the answer, it procures texturants fromfood flavour suppliers. Ingredients like maltodextrin, polydextrose, starch, gum, and emulsifiers can improve mouthfeel.


Enhancing and Fortifying Dairy Products


Milk and milk-derived products should be naturally healthy, but processing can deplete them of their naturally occurring nutrients, cause spoilage, and leave them less palatable than desired. Thus, manufacturers fortify dairy products to increase their nutritional value, add protective cultures to improve longevity and add texturants to enhance mouthfeel.