by Lori Dahm
Achieving the balance that meets consumer acceptance is a complex game.
Achieving the proper
texture in dairy applications continues to be an important aspect of the
dairy formulation proposition, whether that be in the tried-and-true
categories such as yogurts or burgeoning applications such as new
trendy dairy beverages or advents in the frozen dessert area.
While stabilizer and hydrocolloid ingredients may not
be new in the field, the particular combinations or levels used have
changed to accommodate other components appearing in the newest products.
Texture is of paramount importance in the dairy world,
and successfully formulated new products begin with a clearly defined goal
for the ultimate mouthfeel and other sensory attributes related to
texturizer systems, such as viscosity and emulsion. All of these parameters
dictate the selection of the proper texture ingredients for particular
attributes and aesthetics in products that are the newly introduced dairy
delights appearing in today’s market.
Beverages Bust Out
Some of the new happenings in dairy beverages affect
the types of texture ingredients necessary to account for new technologies
and processing methods, as well as new components of dairy beverages such
as increased protein loads, fortification elements or ingredients such as
“Current trends in dairy beverages include
looking to dairy products to add additional nutritional value through
fortification. Fiber, calcium and vitamin D are all currently being used to
fortify dairy beverages such as milks, flavored milks, smoothies and
drinkable yogurts,” says Jenny Norton, food scientist at TIC Gums,
Belcamp, Md. “Probiotics and prebiotics are also being added to many
of the dairy beverages in the market place for health benefits.”
Many of these nutritional components require an
adjustment in the texturizer/stabilizer system to create the proper
aesthetic and mouthfeel balance.
“A major growing category is the nutritional
beverages and meal replacement category within dairy,” says Ross
White, applications manager at FMC Biopolymers, Princeton, N.J.
“These beverages typically require suspension of insoluble
ingredients like minerals and cocoa to ensure the delivery of label claims
over the shelf life of the product.”
Sometimes the texture ingredients can also add to the
nutritional punch being offered by the dairy beverage.
“Our products are high in fiber, and we do have
calcium-added blends as well, so customers can use our products not only to
satisfy their fiber or calcium fortification in a dairy beverage, but also
to act as a functional texture ingredient,” Norton says. “This
way the customer is basically getting an item that will address two issues
Other factors affecting the texture in dairy beverages
include the manner in which these products are being processed.
Specifically, the pasteurization method used can alter what type of texture
ingredient is best suited to an application.
“Many of the dairy beverages today are UHT
processed or retorted. These extreme temperatures can cause the protein in
the beverage to settle at the bottom,” Norton says. “With all
of the new high protein drinks this becomes a greater issue. Hydrocolloids
and phosphate salts are added to these beverages to help stabilize the
protein, add viscosity and provide a creamy mouthfeel to the dairy
Such applications tend to use hydrocolloids such as
carrageenan, guar, microcrystalline cellulose and locust bean gum to create
a finished product that delivers the type of texture desirable to the end
customer. In fact, knowing that end desire is one of the most important
aspects of formulating these dairy beverages successfully.
“The biggest technical challenge in any
application is achieving the desired characteristics without introducing
unwanted attributes such as excessive viscosity, gelation, separation, et
cetera,” White says. “The balance comes in understanding the
customers’ needs, along with a clear understanding of the formulation
and potential interactions.”
Knowing the different options available in terms of
the sensory attributes that an end product could deliver is key.
“Do you want the product thicker than it is now?
Do you want particles to suspend in the fluid? Do you want something that
is thinner, but just has added mouthfeel?” Norton says.
“Conditions such as heating, mixing, cooling or even the order of
incorporation can affect the hydrocolloids that you select to play a role
in the finished product.”
Knowing the end goal texture for a product is only
half of the battle. The first challenge in understanding this formulation
objective revolves around knowing what will be most acceptable to the
consumer — what type of viscosity consumers desire in certain
“We realize that while texture is important to
the consumer, many often have a difficult time articulating particular
texture desires,” says Marshall Fong, director of marketing for
National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J. “To gain more
insight into the mind of the consumer as it relates to texture, we
incorporated a metaphor-based consumer research technique that has
consumers articulate textures through objects, images and narrative
descriptions. Using analytical software, we can create clear linkages
between consumer language and emotions all the way down to specific
While clear understanding of the consumer experience
of texture may remain somewhat elusive at times, what is clear is that the
trend in dairy beverages continues to demonstrate a split personality in
growth directions. While one part of the trend is toward health and
nutrition, the other direction underscores the consumer desire to
experience indulgence and decadence.
“In the dairy-based beverage category, newer
products are along the lines of line extensions and flavor variations that
convert ice cream and candy bar flavors to beverages,” White says.
“Reasonable growth is likely to continue as more consumers depend on
beverages to supplement their diets because of busy
The news in frozen desserts is that while some ice
cream manufacturers invest in processing equipment to create frozen
desserts that offer a decadent mouthfeel in products with less fat, others
use gums, stabilizers and emulsifiers to achieve a similar effect.
“Everyone is looking for that improved texture — a texture and
body in a lowfat system that matches the body and texture of a full-fat
product without incorporating large capital expenditures to current
processing lines,” says George Ayling, technical manger of Gelstar
products at FMC Bioploymers.
The answer is stabilizer blends that include
hydrocolloids and emulsifiers in a combination that helps these products
mimic the texture of full fat to appeal to the consumer. “Adding
unique combinations of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers can help
counter-affect the negative textures of the loss of fat and sugar,”
Norton says. “These stabilizers give a light and fully texture to the
ice cream, which has been found to be accepted and liked by the end
Many dairy dessert manufacturers creating lower-fat
products use a combination of different processing methods — slower
processing time, lower temperatures — along with the added
hydrocolloids and stabilizers. Together with lower processing pressures,
the taste and eating quality of butterfat can be enhanced in the end
product, providing a smoother texture due to smaller ice crystals, and have
the added benefit of withstanding heat shock and altitude protection.
“We use our new microcrystalline cellulose
ingredient technology to enhance the functional properties of these new
lower-fat ice cream products,” Ayling says. “With this new
technology, we are able to provide a cost savings by reducing the milkfat
while at the same time providing the mouthfeel of a fuller-bodied
While stabilizers and emulsifiers have been a
longstanding component of ice cream formulations for the control of
ice-crystal growth and freeze-thaw stability, it is the new combinations
being used that are delivering the texture of full-fat ice creams in a
“Consumers are always looking for that one
product that is healthy, but yet tastes like it isn’t,” Norton
says. “Ice cream is one area in which this is being seen currently in
the marketplace with all of the lower fat, lower sugar alternatives being
created in the frozen dessert field.”
Old Road, New Direction
In the yogurt arena, use of texture ingredients and
stabilizer systems has remained a relatively stable field for quite some
time. Even the latest trend of mousse-like textures in yogurt requires the
same types of commonly used stabilizers.
“The standard texture ingredients in yogurt and
yogurt beverages are tried and true. Pectin, starch and gelatin are the
primary stabilizers, with others used to a lesser extent,” White
says. “Textural issues are less problematic in this category because
the majority of products tend to be thicker in mouthfeel and higher in
viscosity with little variation.”
Some of the aspects of yogurts which are resolved
through the inclusion of texture ingredients include whey-off and excess
shear, issues which can result in a very thin yogurt or one that separates.
In addition to pectin and starch, agar and locust bean gum are used to
offset these textural problems in yogurts.
And the one area of new growth in the world of texture
ingredients revolves around the “organic” demarcation. The
organic concern is not as much a texture ingredient issue for dairy
products formulated as “95 percent organic,” because the
stabilizer systems comprise such a small percentage of the overall product.
However, for dairy products that bear the “100 percent organic”
label, the concern becomes more pressing.
“Organic products are definitely on the rise, and
for those products we offer 100 percent organic certified texture
ingredients and blends,” Norton says.
Other new products are giving consumers healthier
alternatives without sacrificing taste or texture.
“The overall trend in the dairy industry is to
take products that have been on the shelf for years and bring them into the
future,” Norton says.