National Starch Launches Program to Reduce Impact of High Milk Prices on Dairy and Other Food Products
Starch technology reduces cost while maintaining sensory and functional characteristics associated with milk ingredients
National Starch Food Innovation has launched an initiative to assist manufacturers of dairy products and other foods as they look to combat the dramatic rise in the cost of milk that has sent prices for milk ingredients skyrocketing in recent months. The initiative uses proven specialty starch technology that can partially or completely replace milk ingredients in food formulations, while maintaining sensory and functional characteristics.
Foods that stand to benefit substantially from this program include ice cream, processed and imitation cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cheese and cream sauces, dairy beverages, chilled desserts and non-dairy creamers. National’s starch technology can be used to replace fat, improve mouthfeel, control syneresis and impart key sensory attributes, among other factors. In many of these foods, starch already appears in the ingredient declaration, limiting labeling and regulatory issues.
According to Jutta Schock, Marketing Manager at National Starch Food Innovation, the technology that forms the foundation of this new initiative has been developed by the company in regions where milk prices are traditionally quite high or where replacing milk was desired to meet marketing objectives “National Starch has been a leader in fat replacement and, specifically, milk fat replacement technology for nearly thirty years. We have used this technology and our formulating expertise to help food companies successfully commercialize dozens of products in Northern Africa, Asia and Europe,” she said. “This technology is proven. Reducing product costs by replacing milk ingredients with specialty starches is something the food industry can accomplish right now,” she added.
Dramatic, long-lasting rise in ingredient costs
A number of factors have combined globally to send milk prices to unprecedented levels. These include the increased consumption of milk in Asia, as the global rate of protein consumption goes up. The factors also include higher costs for feeding dairy cows, as traditional feedstuffs find use in biofuels. Drought conditions in New Zealand and Australia and the recent elimination of EU export subsidies leading to lower production of milk have combined with the other factors to create a ‘perfect storm’ leading to the recent increases.
Price increases for milk ingredients range from 10% for some whey protein concentrates and caseinates to over 125% for non-fat dry milk. Industry experts expect these prices to remain exceptionally high for at least one to two years. If the dairy industry and other segments that use milk ingredients as important components of their formulations want to maintain profitability, new ways of providing milk-like functionality need to be developed.
Matching sensory, textural and functional performance
Among the most versatile and widely used ingredients in the food industry today, specialty starches offer a broad range of sensory and functional performance characteristics that can be used to complement or replace those provided by milk ingredients.
National Starch Food Innovation has developed solutions for some of the most important dairy food categories and offers proven performance in reducing the use of milk ingredients while at the same time maintaining the quality and consumer acceptance of foods. The characteristics that specialty starches can affect are included in Table 1.
Table 1: Starch technology impacts foods
Firmness & viscosity
Water binding & total solids
Rapid, effective product development possible
Milk replacement technology using specialty starches offers fast, effective formulation development that won’t alter the taste, textural characteristics or consumer experience, unless it is desired by the formulator. Starch provides functionality without the calories associated with milk-fat, allowing for lower calorie products that give a pleasing sensory experience. Because specialty starches are already used in many of the products in question, they can be incorporated into formulations with few or no changes in labeling or regulatory status. National Starch can also use this technology to match or improve the taste and texture profile of existing products.
According to Schock, with the prospects for high milk prices extending into the future, food companies have started re-formulation of existing products or milk-reduction strategies for new products. “Starch technology is an attractive alternative to milk-based ingredients for the food product formulator. It offers substantial cost savings and predictable, controlled costs. Formulation is easy with our broad product line and technical assistance. Starch has a limited secondary impact on key product issues. Finally, by working with National Starch Food Innovation, they can be assured that their new, low cost formulation will meet the needs of demanding consumers for quality and sensory experience,” she said.
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