Suppliers discuss ingredients that influence the texture of dairy foods.

Dairy Foods talked to:

Ivan Gonzales, category marketing manager-cultured foods, Fonterra
Amanda Higgins, laboratory technician, Gum Technology Corp.
Donna Klockeman, dairy food scientist, Tic Gums
Mindi McKibbin, specialist-edible technical services, Gelita USA
Cathy Miller, technical applications director, Danisco USA
Joseph O’Neill, executive vice president-sales and marketing, Beneo Inc.
Vince Patti, marketing associate, Fiberstar Inc.
Darrin Peterson, assistant vice president-functional systems product manager, Cargill Texturizing Systems
Declan Roche, commercial director of new technology platforms, Kerry Ingredients & Flavours-Americas Region
Jane Schulenburg, global marketing director, CP Kelco
Bill Shazer, director-research and development, Tate & Lyle
Jennifer Stephens, marketing manager, Penford Food Ingredients
Teresa Yazbek Pereira, vice president/technical sales director, Colloides Naturels Inc.
Erhan Yildiz, business scientist-dairy applications, National Starch Food Innovation/Corn Products

The average consumer typically does not realize the role texture plays when deciding if they like or dislike a food. Most will say something tastes good or bad, but few evaluate the mouthfeel and visual appeal of foods, or at least to the extent that food scientists employ when evaluating product quality. In the lab, mouthfeel descriptors include creamy, grainy, sheer, slippery, slick and smooth, while terms used to describe the apparent texture are cohesiveness, ice crystals, melt, synereis and watering off.

Numerous ingredients are available to dairy foods product developers to manage and manipulate food textures. Usually carbohydrate or protein-based texturants impact appearance and mouthfeel without contributing much in terms of calories and flavor.

Dairy Foods interviewed 14 suppliers of texturant ingredients to better learn about the role texturants play in dairy foods, as well as recent innovations available to product developers. Here’s what they share.

Dairy Foods: What role do texturants play in dairy foods formulations?

Peterson: Flavor and texture are the two attributes that ensure a dairy product provides a unique experience for consumers. But, however good the flavor, if the texture is wrong, consumers won’t be back. Well-designed texturizing solutions offer much more than stabilization. They can affect sensorial attributes, provide a broad array of functionality, deliver health and wellness support, reduce ingredient costs and offer formula optimization.

O’Neill: The texture of dairy foods formulations can be modified by the addition or removal of fat, carbohydrates and/or protein. The technical attributes of these ingredients may be used for additional functionality from mouthfeel and syneresis control to freeze-thaw stability. The specific nature and digestibility of the ingredient may influence the nutritional value of the product, including fiber content and caloric value.

Patti: In our experience, customers want to improve the eating qualities of their products. This can be done by preventing syneresis and oil and water separation or improving texture, mouthfeel and taste. A second use of texturants in dairy products is fat reduction. Manufacturers are using our ingredients to replace fat and thereby either reduce formula costs or improve their product’s nutritional profile.

Roche: Texturants interact with the major components in a food or beverage - proteins, fats, carbohydrates and moisture - sometimes acting on specific ingredients such as proteins or at the interface between the major components. They work synergistically with the ingredients to set up a stable structure within the product that allows ease of processing in the short term and maintains that stable structure over the life of the product, delivering the desired organoleptic experience when the product is consumed.

Shazer: Texturants have multiple functions in dairy products and come in many forms, ranging from components such as maltodextrins and polydextrose, which add body and build total solids, to starches and modified starches, which add viscosity plus body/mouthfeel, to hydrocolloids, which build viscosity and prevent phase separation, and finally,  to emulsifiers, which bind fat and aqueous phases.

Miller: Although no one hydrocolloid or emulsifier can provide fat mimetic properties, a combination of the two can be used to provide a creamy mouthfeel and build a creamier texture when fat is reduced in dairy applications. This is particularly important in products that are typically higher in fat, such as sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, whipping cream and coffee creamers.  Texturants also prevent serum separation in resale ice cream mixes, soft serve, flavored milks, buttermilk, whipping cream and smoothies.

Higgins: In addition to the obvious - providing texture - many texturants protect proteins from denaturing under otherwise unforgiving conditions such as low pH or high temperature. They also can play a role in the nutrition of dairy foods and beverages, as they allow for a reduction of high-fat ingredients without losing the texture or mouthfeel of the full-fat product. Gums contribute to the fiber content of a food and also help lower the glycemic index. This comprehensive improvement of texture, stability and nutrition shows how vital a role gums and starch/gum blends can play in both improving dairy products while also reducing the total cost of ingredients.

Gonzalez: Each texturant has different functional characteristics and contributes to the body and texture of dairy foods in different ways. Milk proteins, for example, which are naturally found in dairy products, play a major role in the nutritional profile of the finished product, as well as help define final structure, taste and texture. The use of dairy proteins, whether whey protein concentrates or milk protein concentrates, when properly utilized, not only increases the protein content of the formulation but also can bind moisture to prevent syneresis. In cheese products, these ingredients can assist with increasing yield and in cultured products, they provide thickness.

McKibbin: Gelatin is a protein-based hydrocolloid often used as a texturant in dairy products. Its melting point is near body temperature, thus it simulates milkfat’s melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Schulenburg: A texturant’s role in a food differs by application. Even within the beverage category, functions can be quite varied. An increasingly popular beverage sector is what we call “health-in-a-bottle.” This includes drinkable yogurts, fermented milk, smoothies and milk-, whey- and soy-juice drinks. Not only do they deliver a good source of protein, they can often serve as a healthy and refreshing meal-replacement or snack option. Unfortunately, for the beverage manufacturer, formulating low-pH drinks that contain protein can be a bit of a challenge. Technical hurdles can also be exaggerated via fortification with insoluble particulates. Formulation challenges include protein aggregation, gritty or chalky mouthfeel, thinness, settling of insoluble ingredients and visual separation. Hydrocolloid texturants assist with stabilization, suspension and thickening. They make it possible to produce consumer-appealing acidified protein beverages with a consistent and uniform quality and nutrient delivery.

Dairy Foods: Describe one or more of your texturant ingredients, including specific applications, usage level and functionality.

Schulenburg: CP Kelco offers label-friendly pectin derived from either citrus peel or sugar beets. In acidified protein drinks, our application-specific pectin protects the proteins from aggregation during heat processing and stabilizes the beverage over shelf life. Via protein protection, a smooth and palatable beverage is obtained, since sedimentation and serum formation - that watery layer on the surface of the beverage - is prevented. In beverages with live and active cultures, the pectin is added to the milk prior to fermentation to add body and mouthfeel to the finished beverage. In this process, the pectin is pasteurized with the milk prior to culturing so that no additional process steps are required. The pectin interacts with the milk proteins to build viscosity, reduce protein sedimentation and minimize serum separation to help create a smooth, stable drinking yogurt.

Klockeman: Tic Gums provides texturant systems for all-natural sour creams, which can be used for light and full-fat formulations using cultured or acid-set processing methods. The ingredients include a combination of starch, gum Acacia, guar gum, locust bean gum and carrageenan, with a recommended usage level ranging from 1.5% to 3.25%, depending on the desired finished product characteristics. This combination of ingredients provides a thick, heavy bodied sour cream with good tolerance to temperature stress, both in foodservice applications and as an ingredient in baked goods. We also provide 100% certified-organic texturant systems for cup-set and tank-set yogurts, which is based on 100% organic-certified agar. The recommended usage level range is 0.05% to 2.25%. These systems provide excellent texture after stirring in combination with increased control of syneresis throughout the shelf life of the yogurts.

McKibbin: Gelita markets an array of gelatin ingredients, including a recently introduced Orthodox Union kosher-certified product we distribute for Geliko. Dairy processors rely on gelatin for many functions. For example, gelatin can prevent whey from being expelled in yogurt, curd and cream cheese, as it binds and stabilizes the whey. The gelatin molecules form a sort of lattice in the casein gel structure during the gelling process, and this is stabilized by hydrogen bonding. This prevents the protein from clumping and expelling the whey. Gelatin assists in freeze-thaw stability, specifically in frozen dairy products, as it influences the size and distribution of ice crystals. Gelatin also has the ability to generate and stabilize foams, and is therefore a great option for whipped dairy desserts.

Yazbek Pereira: Colloides Naturels markets Acacia gum, which can be organic and kosher. It is a purified, instantized ingredient so it is easy to use. Acacia gum is 90% soluble fiber and different from other texturants as it has a low viscosity. In addition to providing mouthfeel, stabilizing systems and contributing fiber, it is able to mask the bitterness and aftertaste of low-calorie sweeteners. We also have developed a co-processed Acacia gum and gluten-free wheat fiber. It functions as a fat replacement in ice creams. In fact, at a use level of 2%, fat can be cut in half and still maintain the same texture, stability and creaminess.

Higgins: Gum Technology offers a tara and guar gum blend for ice cream. When used at 0.15%, it can provide freeze-thaw stability by preventing the formation of ice crystals. These gums can also be blended with modified starches at 1% to provide a similar stability. Another example is an acidified beverage. A pectin and tara gum blend at 0.7% helps to protect the protein from denaturing in the low pH solution. In another application, a blend of guar gum, xanthan gum and alginate allows for the amount of cheese in a cheese sauce to be greatly reduced without compromising texture.

Yildiz: National Starch offers starch-based texture systems that are specifically optimized to deliver a customer-preferred texture in blended yogurt products. Further, we can optimize texture systems to create the texture and eating experience of higher-fat content products in low- and no-fat yogurt applications by providing creaminess and opacity. Dairy co-texturizers, which are unique combinations of modified starch, maltodextrin and tapioca maltodextrin, can enhance creaminess in cultured dairy products, dairy desserts and milk drinks. Our proprietary maltodextrins contribute to the creaminess and firmness of cultured products and dairy desserts.

Stephens: Penford offers rice starch, which is recommended for creaminess and as a fat replacement in dairy, cheese and ice cream food products. When native rice starch is used, it can be labeled as natural and appears as rice starch on the ingredient declaration. Usage level is formula specific, but generally it is in the 1% to 10% range. All of our products are kosher.

Gonzalez: Fonterra offers many functional dairy proteins for cultured applications. For example, one ingredient is designed to deliver a thicker texture and shiny appearance to high-protein yogurts, such as the increasingly popular Greek-style yogurts. Our dairy ingredients offer clean-label options and are simply declared as either “whey protein concentrate” or “milk protein concentrate” in the formulation. Fonterra’s range of ingredients includes rBST-free, Grade A, kosher-certified  and manufactured in the USA options.

Miller: Emulsifiers keep water and oil in suspension, and this contributes to a smooth, creamy mouthfeel, as well as prevents visual separation. Danisco offers a number of emulsifiers that are ideal for dairy applications, including mono and diglycerides, distilled monoglycerides, lactic acid esters and DATEM. The primary function of hydrocolloids is to bind water; however, each has its own set of unique functionalities. A popular hydrocolloid for dairy products is guar gum, which is considered to be natural for label claims. It is one of the more inexpensive hydrocolloids and can build viscosity and enhance a creamy texture in ice cream, water ices, sherbet, sour cream, cream cheese, buttermilk, flavored milks and smoothies. Microcrystalline cellulose is used in lower-fat ice cream applications to provide a creamy mouthfeel at the same time it protects against heat-shock damage and altitude abuse. Polydextrose can be used to increase fiber content and can also be used as a bulking agent in reduced-sugar and/or reduced-calorie dairy products.

Patti: Fiberstar’s citrus fiber-based ingredients are used to partially replace fat, stabilize emulsions, prevent syneresis and improve texture. Our ingredients have an amorphous cell structure and the ability to bind fat as well as water. This allows them to give reduced-fat formulations excellent texture, mouthfeel and taste. Customers typically use our citrus fiber products at 0.5% to 2% of formula weight. When replacing formula fat, our citrus fiber products often reduce the per-unit cost of the product. One of the newest applications is in ice cream. We have tested reduced-fat ice cream formulas that have truly excellent mouthfeel, texture and flavor delivery with reduced-formula costs.

O’Neill: Inulin is a natural plant ingredient that provides fiber enrichment without negative organoleptic effects. It can replace all or part of the fat in cheese, ice cream, mousse and yogurt, where it also improves texture and mouthfeel. Low-fat spreads and mousses, fluid milk and dairy desserts are just a few of the applications where inulin shines, typically at usage levels ranging from 2% to 10%. Inulin can also be used to partially replace sugar. Inulin is available in powdered and liquid forms with fiber contents ranging from 85% to 95%. Highly soluble inulin is designed to offer the solubility of oligofructose and the textural properties of inulin without causing crystallization issues in fruit preparations for yogurt. High-performance/long-chain inulin forms gel at lower concentrations than standard inulin and is therefore twice as efficient for fat replacement. It is typically used at levels ranging from 1% to 6%. Beneo also carries a wide range of clean-label rice starches that specifically cater to the following needs: creamy mouthfeel, syneresis prevention, freeze-thaw stability and calorie reduction.

Dairy Foods: What is the future for texturants in dairy products? 

Roche: There will always be a need for the unique properties delivered by texturants to dairy products. They are the scaffolding around which many dairy products are constructed. For some traditional dairy products, texturants are not needed. They are self-sustaining. But for the majority, in the drive for enhanced efficiencies, both in processing and in product formulations and the drive to reduce calories, fat and sugar, texturants are key to enabling the processor to successfully formulate, manufacture and expand market share for a product. Ultimately, all products have to deliver the desired experience during consumption. If not, its life cycle will be short lived. Texturants enable long product life cycles because they allow companies to formulate products that deliver on promise without breaking the bank.

Gonzalez: Several dairy product manufacturers are formulating or reformulating dairy products with functional dairy proteins in order to offer consumers products with a cleaner label, while benefiting from the texture-building properties of the dairy proteins.

Yildiz: Texturants derived from starches are versatile ingredients that are easy to formulate with, provide a wide range of benefits and are recognized and accepted by consumers. This should help continue to drive their utilization in dairy products. Further, starch-based texture systems offer excellent cost/performance benefits. With the continued consumption of clean-label, vegetarian, halal and kosher foods and sometimes the price pressure on dairy ingredients, the use of starch-based texturants will keep growing.

Stephens: Texturant technology within the dairy category will continue to evolve to solve processors’ future needs, which include cost effectiveness with quality, allergen-free labeling and natural/clean ingredient declarations.

Shazer: The highly functional nature of hydrocolloids at relatively low-use rates, and the synergies observed between various hydrocolloids will make their use attractive in simple-label foods. Similarly, starches and maltodextrins will find favor with simple-label products and will provide function and cost efficiencies across a wide range of food applications.

Higgins: Scientists will continue to discover synergies between the different texturants. This will allow for replacement of high-cost or calorie-rich ingredients, while also improving texture and allowing for cleaner and more natural flavors.