Going clean and green

Today, we explore a trend that has been exploding with popularity over the past two years, and that is plant-based foods!

Plant-based foods in-conjunction with clean label and ethical food choices are consumer-driven trends that show no signs of slowing down. The notion of food as medicine is definitely at the fore of consumers minds when deciding what products they'd like to spend their hard-earned dollars on. It is these movements that as a manufacturer/producer you need to be ahead of the curve on, to ensure you stay relevant with your customers, as only having a sorbet or fruit-based option is not enough these days to meet these immerging trends. Consumers are looking for satisfaction with a plant-based alternative, it has to be 'creamy' and have a well rounded mouthfeel and texture, but most importantly this needs to be achieved with a consciousness of quality ingredients, such as using coconut fats vs palm oil or other vegetable fats.

So what does this mean for us as predominantly dairy product producers... and how do we achieve this?

Well, to start with there are two key areas in your recipe that we need to look at. Those are:

1. Replacing the dairy

2. Working with different stabilisers

So, let's take the first point... replacing the dairy. Thanks to the huge upsurge in the use of non-dairy milk alternatives, finding a suitable replacement for milk and cream is now easier than ever! Alternatives such as almond, coconut, macadamia milks or even oat, rice and hemp milks are readily accessible and available in bulk supply.

One thing that may be interesting to note is that soy milk, whilst once having been the original dairy-free alternative of choice has been steadily decreasing in popularity since 2008. Connotations with GMO and debunked health claims have cast a shadow on soy milk, meanwhile substitutes like almond milk have been on a steady trajectory of growth, thanks to their better nutritionals and in most cases organic status.

So when it comes to reformulating using a non-dairy alternative, our advice would be to try a few different types, perhaps speak to your customers and see if they have a preferred substitute already and start experimenting. One thing to remember though when it comes to your testing, is to pay attention to the different nutritional properties - in particular the levels of sugar and fat in you chosen dairy alternative.

So now that we've addressed the liquid dairy, we now need to look at the stabiliser, and this is where things can get a little tricky! Dairy proteins seem to have a knack at sneaking their way into products even in ever so microscopic a way! A number of typical vegetable fat powders are often coated in dairy proteins as this aides in the rapid dispersion and emulsification process. So finding all of the right stabilisers can be a bit of a minefield! It is well worth your while having a quick look at the ingredients listing in your current dairy-free/sorbet stabiliser bases and keep an eye out for things such as 'sodium caseinate', 'whey powder', 'whey protein' and 'milk solids' as these can be considered in some countries as 'technical aides' as opposed to 'ingredients'.

Fortunately though, in order for us to keep our products current with the latest consumer demands, our development team have a great deal of experience in this area and have been working on a number of alternative stabiliser options to satisfy vegan, plant-based and clean label requests.

The following are our range current stabiliser bases for various dairy-free applications:

  • Wellness Base: A complete coconut-based stabiliser mix to produce dairy-free (vegan) gelato. Simply hydrate with you choice of milk alternative
  • Coco Soft: A complete coconut-based stabiliser mix to produce dairy-free (vegan) soft serve. Coco Soft just needs to be hydrated with your choice of coconut water or a combination of coconut water and coconut cream and you have a delicious, creamy coconut-flavoured soft serve!

Further to this Florentia's core sorbet bases Primofrutta Base 100 and Base 50 are both 100% vegan.

In our next article we will look into clean label and ways in which we can ensure only wholesome, natural ingredients form the basis of your gelato!