According to Innova Market, “plant forward” is a worldwide phenomenon and one of the Top Ten Trends for this year. The rising popularity of plant-based products, especially among flexitarians, will according to industry experts lead to growing demand for new formats, plant proteins and higher-end alternatives. One example is cheese alternatives, a product category of high interest to flexitarians. Cheese is often a part of the diet that’s hard to give up. Planteneers doesn’t just focus on taste and texture, but also on the nutritional profile.
With the all-in compounds in the fiildDairy range, Planteneers offers a selection of plant-based alternatives to cream cheese, pizza cheese, and hard cheese in slices and blocks. Alternatives to cheese fillings, for example for plant-based schnitzel and the like, are also no problem. In the development of plant-based products Planteneers is careful to keep ingredient lists short. For example, the latest highlights include a plant-based alternative to shepherd’s cheese that has no E-numbers. New for cultured products are special alternatives to granular cream cheese (cottage cheese). These are based on either almond or oat protein, and so are soy-free. Planteneers also addresses the free-from trend in its plant-based alternative to quark. This clean label system has no E-numbers and can also be used to produce a plant-based version of sour cream. The products are made using almond drinks or almond paste, and thus are also free from soy.
Networked research around protein qualities
The market research results from Innova Market Insights show the potential that plant-based cheese alternatives have. Consumers like cheese very much, and it is an important product category in the plant-based alternatives market. Dr. Dorotea Pein, Director Product Management at Planteneers, comments, “in terms of technology, plant-based products have reached the point where they are very similar to their animal equivalents. They have the flavour and texture people want, brown well, and with their melting behaviour make any pizza a delicious treat. However, their nutritional value has room for improvement, since unlike with meat alternatives, plant protein cannot be readily used in cheese technology.”
To change this, Planteneers continuously researches new solutions in the company’s own Plant Based Competence Center. With its sister company Hydrosol, Planteneers is also a cooperation partner with the NewFoodSystems innovation space supported by the German Ministry of Education. Other members include the Fraunhofer Institute, the Max Rubner Institute and various universities and research institutions. “As a partner of this expertise network, we are in constant communication with leading scientists in the field of plant protein,” reports Dr. Pein. “We’re also increasing our own research and development work. To this end we’re adding a cheese area to our Plant Based Competence Center, where we can research new technologies. Simultaneously we’re adding to our expert team. Our goal is to make plant proteins more usable for cheese alternatives, ultimately in order to improve their nutritional value.”
Nutritious cheese alternatives address growth trend
With plant-based alternatives to cream and hard cheese, manufacturers can add new trend products to their offerings. If, in addition to positive technical attríbutes, these also feature nutritional profiles with the essential amino acids needed by the body, they meet consumers’ desire for healthy nutrition, which is important because healthy indulgence remains one of the mega-trends on the international food market. The market for enriched milk alternatives is the best proof of this. “Plant-based drinks enriched with special nutrients are the strongest category by a wide margin,” comments Dr. Pein. “In close collaboration with our sister company SternVitamin we have already developed enriched plant drinks for special target groups, and so gained experience in this area. Now we’re building on these approaches to improve the nutritional profile of plant-based cheese alternatives.