Putting the pizazz in plant-based innovation

How ingredient technology can spark consumer loyalty – and keep plant-based products on supermarket shelves

It’s something of a paradox that one of the regions with the highest meat consumption in the world also ranks among the global top three for veganism. According to the Vegan Society, only the UK has more vegans than Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, a plant-based diet is now the preferred choice of some 2.5 million consumers – just over 12% of the population. That includes vegans, vegetarians and the growing number of flexitarians, who still eat meat and dairy products occasionally but prioritise plant-based food products for health and sustainability reasons.

Many food companies have already tapped into this opportunity. This much is clear from Euromonitor statistics which show the market for plant-based milk alternatives grew 5% year-on-year from 2015 to 2019. Within plant-based alternatives to meat, compound annual growth was 11 per cent in the same period.

The question is: what should brand owners do now to maintain a loyal consumer following in the future?

Michelle Lee, regional marketing director at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, gives her view on the developing plant-based market.

“What we have seen is that many of the plant-based launches do not attract high repeat purchases. This is partly because consumers often buy them out of curiosity alone, and partly because manufacturers are still learning about consumer likes and dislikes within this emerging mainstream category.”

Plant-based and meat-like

Within meat alternatives, one persistent challenge is to recreate the taste and texture of real meat with plant raw materials, as consumers continue to expect a meat-like flavour, succulence and bite.

This is where the newest technology within plant proteins and stabiliser systems can help brands capture consumer loyalty. Textured soy proteins, for instance, can simulate the distinctive bite of a traditional burger, chicken breast or beef jerky. They also enable the protein claim that many consumers look out for on packaging.

Beyond dairy alternatives
Compared to meat alternatives, the market situation for plant-based beverages and yoghurt-style products is somewhat different. Here, consumers are already moving beyond dairy alternatives towards a category that celebrates the novel tastes and textures plant proteins can provide. As Global Data’s 2019 survey of Australian consumers revealed, non-dairy drinks based on soy, oats, nuts and seeds are already widely accepted. Among them, oat-based product launches have the highest growth rate of all.

“Oats are a familiar cereal known for their high nutritional quality and mild, nutty flavour with no off-notes. So they satisfy consumers’ health and taste criteria easily. But, for manufacturers, there are several technical challenges to solve when producing appealing and shelf-stable oat-based products,” Lee says.

Resolving oat-based issues
Oat-based coffee creamers are one example where the difficulty lies in delivering a delicious milk-like foam without protein separation when the creamer is mixed into hot coffee. Application trials at DuPont have shown that a combination of oat, soluble fibre and carob protein is a possible solution, resulting in a stable UHT beverage with a creamy mouthfeel and light oat flavour.

In yoghurt-style oat snacks, the right selection of starter, protective and probiotic cultures can optimise texture, delay spoilage and contribute to a healthy image. Label-friendly stabiliser blends and plant proteins add extra functionality.

Textural limitations and consumer demand for ‘clean’ product labels may have restricted plant-based innovation in the past. With today’s ingredient technology, however, manufacturers have many opportunities to spark consumer interest – and keep it.

 

DuPont drives solutions for plant-based food and beverages

With the launch of a new brand designed for co-creation of plant-based beverages, dairy alternatives, meat, fish and seafood, DuPont is looking to enable the transformation of global eating habits.

Danisco Planit marks the latest evolution in DuPont’s plant-based ingredient portfolio – a  range of ingredients and application expertise for food and beverages made with a ‘planet forward,’ sustainable approach.

With the new Danisco Planit range, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences (DuPont) offers food and beverage manufacturers a selection of ingredients for plant-based product development in the industry, supported by application knowledge and insights to design products for the future.

Plant-in-it is key
In plant-based products, as in all food categories, taste and texture are imperative. However, in plant-based there are a variety of protein sources, and when combined with consumer requirements for health and nutrition, designing and formulating new formats that are top-performing in all sensory dimensions is a challenge. A great tasting product isn’t just about flavor, but the interactivity among sight, smell, touch and sound. Sensory expertise is at the center of new product development for plant-based food and beverages.

Danisco Planit has been launched globally and covers services, expertise, and an ingredient portfolio for plant-based food and beverages: plant proteins, hydrocolloids, cultures, probiotics, fibers, food protection, antioxidants, natural extracts, emulsifiers, and enzymes, as well as tailor-made systems.

DuPont launches dairy-free protective cultures for plant-based fermented products

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has announced a new ingredient – Holdbac YM VEGE – as the latest addition to the DuPont Danisco Holdbac line of protective cultures, known for their ability to extend shelf-life and secure the quality of products by holding off yeast and mold spoilage – all without use of synthetic preservatives.

Now, Holdbac YM VEGE brings this effective and label-friendly spoilage prevention to plant-based, fermented foods and beverages, at a time when customer demand in this space has never been higher.

“The industry has seen enormous growth for fermented plant-based products in recent years, driven by higher numbers of flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan consumers around the world. These shifts in diets are driven by a number of factors, including a search for improved health that comes with a plant-based diet, ethical choices toward foods with lower environmental impact and which are deemed better for animal welfare, and switching to dairy alternatives for lactose-intolerant consumers,” said Eve Martinet-Bareau, global product manager, cultures for plant-based fermented food and beverages.

READ MORE: Burcon to build $70 million pea and canola protein production plant

“DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has been working with customers for decades as consumer demands for plant-based options have increased, and we are constantly looking for ways to innovate in this space,” added Martinet-Bareau. “For example, in May 2018, we launched a new cultures line – Danisco Vege Cultures – especially designed for fermented plant-based products, helping customers attain desired taste and texture profiles in a wide variety of plant-based dairy alternatives and beverages.”

However, with that demand came certain challenges for producers of fermented goods, including the need to:

  • Gain market share in the fast-growing plant-based food sector;
  • consistently ensure high-quality products with the desired taste and texture, particularly across regions with differing consumer preferences;
  • secure that quality throughout a product’s shelf-life;
  • address the fast-growing demand for friendly labeled consumer products;
  • make a substantial contribution to the sustainability of the food and beverage sector; and
  • provide consumers with products that improve their health and wellbeing.

“As more consumers look for fermented food and drinks, our HOLDBAC® YM VEGE cultures will help our customers meet that demand.”

This innovative new ingredient also offers customers the ability to make a significant difference in terms of environmental and social impact through reduced food waste and plant-based alternatives. The potential impact is massive: DuPont has estimated that if just 5 percent of the global yogurt market is replaced with plant-based alternatives made with Danisco Vege and Holdbac YM Vege cultures, the carbon dioxide emission saving would theoretically be as high as 3,000,000 tons CO2 annually. This would be roughly equivalent to 1,700,000 EU-based cars off the roads.

“We are thrilled to add Holdbac YM Vege to our range of plant-based and sustainable offerings,” said Mikkel Thrane, Global Sustainability Lead for DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. “We look at our environmental footprint through the lens of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we are proud to say that this culture supports at least three – SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 12 (responsible production and Consumption) and SDG 13 (climate action). Holdbac YM Vege is helping us facilitate the transition to a healthier and more environmental-friendly diet.”

This transition to a healthier diet for people and the planet is powered by DuPont’s expertise in microbiology, food protection and fermentation, as well its commitment to developing and offering more sustainable ingredients for customers

Solution for vegan- and plant-based beverages of business

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences announces the debut of naturally sourced Grindsted Gellan Veg 200 stabiliser, enabling high performance results of plant-based and vegan beverages.

Since 2014, the number of new vegan products increased by 35 per cent, with beverages as one of the highest growing categories globally. With 6 out of 10 U.S. consumers increasing their consumption of plant-based foods and beverages in their daily diet, so called “alternatives” are becoming mainstream.

Dietary preferences shifting towards plant-based options is becoming more prevalent, and personal health is the key driver of change. In the DuPont-sponsored study conducted by HealthFocus, 42 per cent of respondents said that they prefer more plant-based foods in their daily diet and more than half of all consumers said that it “makes me feel healthier.” Also, the environmental component of this dietary shift is not negligible, as three out of four Millennials are willing to spend more on ethical products.

Grindsted Gellan Veg 200 advances plant-based and vegan beverages to fit consumer expectations. Plant-based/vegan claim, health profile, clean label, premium taste and texture are the most desired features of innovative products in this category.

“Produced by bacteria during fermentation of renewable, bio-based raw materials, Gellan VEG 200 is a purely natural solution. It provides excellent stability and particle suspension and minimal contribution to mouthfeel,” said Lise Stouby, senior scientist, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.

Grindsted Gellan Veg 200 is suitable for a range of plant-sourced raw materials, has low protein reactivity and high performance across a broad pH range. Added directly into the mix, Gellan VEG 200 delivers a stabilizing network throughout the shelf life to maintain a homogenous and stable final product.

“We are proud to launch a product that answers critical manufacturers’ needs ease of formulation and production. Starting today, it’s available worldwide,” said Kirsten Braüner Nygaard, business development manager, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.

DuPont divests Natural Colors business to DDW

DuPont has divested its Natural Colors business, which is part of the DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences (N&B) segment, to DDW, The Color House. DDW is a global privately held company specialising in natural colour solutions for the food and beverage industry. The divestiture closed on June 28, 2019.

DuPont has a defined strategy of active portfolio management to further align the company’s portfolio with high return opportunities, consistent with its disciplined approach to capital allocation. This includes always evaluating the business and asset mix, and, as appropriate, pursuing strategic alternatives to optimise value creation.

“The Natural Colors business offers quality natural colours to a global customer base and is an attractive business with two world-class production sites. However, it is not part of N&B’s strategic focus areas. Following a strategic review of the Natural Colors business, we concluded that it would likely deliver greater value as part of a dedicated and leading colours player. We are convinced that the Natural Colors business will thrive under DDW’s ownership,” said Matthias Heinzel, President, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences Business.

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences applies expert science to advance market-driven, healthy and sustainable solutions for the food, beverage, dietary supplement and pharmaceutical industries. It also uses biotechnology across a range of markets to advance bio-based solutions to meet the needs of a growing population, while protecting our environment for future generations.

Strengthened organisation focuses on growth in ingredient and process development

DuPont Nutrition and Health announced it is expanding its research and development team by creating a “clean label hub” at the Brabrand facility.

Intending to boost its project pipeline in healthy nutrition and clean label texturant offerings, six new employees will join the existing team to focus on both ingredient and process development.

The hub will feature experts with backgrounds in clean label and sustainability – two fields that often work together and serve related purposes.

Working closely with existing project teams, the hub will bring products to market quickly and help grow the existing project pipeline.

READ: DuPont Nutrition and Health develops a new, naturally sourced monoglyceride emulsifier

Gerard Lynch, research and development leader, for systems and texturants, emulsifiers and sweeteners, said clean label was about creating foods and beverages with ingredients that consumers recognised, felt good about putting into their bodies, and that respected the earth and its resources.

“Our ingredients are already used in many applications that consumers consider clean label, but there are tremendous opportunities to innovate – creating ingredients that are even more sustainable, using a larger part of the natural raw materials, while providing health benefits to consumers,” said Lynch.

“Committing to this innovation is critical for our ongoing success and growth,” he said.

With the ability to use the broadest capabilities in terms of natural raw materials access, processing, across fruits, vegetables, seaweeds and nutritional science, DuPont Nutrition and Health can develop functional ingredients that meet consumer expectations.

The hub will help customers continue to navigate clean label trends in a proactive and sustainable way.

DuPont Nutrition and Health is seeking creative scientists and engineers to identify ways to convert sustainable and natural raw materials into clean label solutions that meet consumer demands for simplicity and authenticity, all without compromising taste, texture and nutritional qualities.

Planned to be in place by early 2019, the clean label texturants team will have the opportunity to tackle exciting projects to provide texture and stability for multiple food applications.

DuPont Nutrition and Health global sustainability lead, Mikkel Thrane, said the company was excited to launch the hub and put additional team members into place that will help us advance its innovation strategy to support customers.

“This hub will enable us to continue integrating sustainability and the UN sustainable development goals into our work, and the investment we are making will help us develop healthier, more nutritious and sustainable ingredients for our food supply,” Thrane said.

Eurofins helps identify inaccuracies in probiotic labelling with DuPont assays

DuPont Nutrition and Health and Eurofins have made headway in probiotic testing by developing strain-level identification assays.

They are leading the way for industry-wide product integrity and label accuracy by using new technology to improve methods of strain identification.

Eurofins will employ DuPont’s polymerase-chain-reaction genotyping assays to identify probiotics at the strain level in both raw materials and finished products.

Several studies have found inaccuracies in probiotic labelling, including incorrect taxonomy, missing species and unlabelled species.

Wesley Morovic, scientist in the genomics and microbiome science group at DuPont, said the findings emphasise the necessity of reliable methods to determine the taxonomy of microbial populations in probiotic products.

“Because strain identification has not historically been required, little investment has been made to support the industry in doing so. DuPont is one of few manufacturers to share its genetic identification methods with customers and the public,” Morovic said.

DuPont is leading the industry toward label traceability by making its polymerase-chain-reaction genotyping available and working with Eurofins to develop accurate tests.

Eurofins business development manager Mehgan Styke said, “Many manufacturers understand that verifying raw materials and identifying finished products is as important as quantifying potency, for both label compliance and manufacturer confidence.”

“Until now, the tools for specific and accurate identification were either inaccessible or had yet to be developed; adding to the challenge are the nuances of probiotic products,” Styke said.

“With DuPont’s strain assays, Eurofins has become the first third-party laboratory to support identification to strain level, completing our portfolio of accurate testing for full label verification of potency, stability and identification.”

DuPont probiotics global marketing manager Megan DeStefano said the goal was to use science-driven solutions to bring a higher level of transparency to the probiotics market.

“We have worked closely with Eurofins to develop this service and are fully confident in their capabilities.”

Eurofins AgBio president Michael Drozd said these methods were at a cost and efficiency in line with the current less accurate and less specific methods.

“We are excited to leverage the collective knowledge of DuPont and Eurofins BioDiagnostics to bring the industry to a higher level of transparency.”