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Discover Wellness - Healthy Dairy

Dairy innovation

The dairy sector as a whole is currently considered one of the top 3 most innovative sectors within Europe. Between 2022 and 2029 the dairy desserts market2 is expected to grow at a rate of 4.27%. The global frozen desserts sub-sector will exceed that, at a CAGR of 5.5%, during the forecast period up until 20263.

Amongst the drivers for growth are an increased consideration of allergies, intolerance, and the uptake of plant-based diets4. For example, lactose-free ice cream has an expanding presence in the freezer cabinets alongside the growing portfolio of healthier premium dessert products, the holy- grail of permissible indulgence. These innovations are providing consumers with the right balance of sensory qualities using texture modifiers, crystallization inhibitors and natural flavours. These healthier nutritional profiles, through reduced sugar and fat offerings using key functional ingredients such as emulsion stabilizers, are also going the extra mile by enhancing the nutrient density through protein enrichment. The availability of plant-based and non-dairy offerings is also adding a new dimension and helps formulators create dairy product solutions without compromising taste, texture, or label simplicity.







Smooth operator

The smoothness and creaminess, usually because of the fat content, are key components of indulgent texture and mouthfeel. Certain ingredients have natural properties, such as water and fat binding, and essentially mimic the texture and meltaway characteristics of fat, so will significantly help replace fat in dairy products. Derived from natural sources, such as potato and maize, these ingredients can also help with that all-important clean label positioning.

Another great option for enhancing the mouthfeel of fat-reduced dairy products is the use of soluble fibre such as Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).  The range of prebiotic fibres is no longer limited to inulin, with alternatives from cane or beet sugar becoming available.  Galacto-oligosaccharides, (GOS), derived from milk, is also available for dairy products where ‘vegan’ status is not important.

These sweet-tasting soluble fibres are also effective in sugar reduction and can be used alongside intense sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose or Polyols such as Erythritol.   The use of soluble fibres has the added benefit of providing additional fibre to the product, as well as prebiotic properties. Depending on addition rates, nutrition and health claims relating to fibre content and prebiotic benefits could be used, depending on the region.  


Discuss solutions for fat and sugar reduction, texture and mouthfeel with the technical team

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Dairy-free dairy

There is also an opportunity to widen the appeal of indulgent products by looking at the free-from possibilities, such as the dairy components which can be exchanged for vegan alternatives or removing certain allergens by considering other protein sources such as oats, pulses and wheat.

As an alternative to dairy, more and more consumers are seeking plant-based beverages, shakes and desserts that are high in protein, minimally processed, pure and natural, and also taste great.


Univar Solutions Food Ingredients demonstrated, in its recent creative culinary demo, how careful selection and reparation of the right ingredients can be effective in developing range.  The Flex Forward suite of ingredients comprises texturisers, proteins, and modified starches to build back the structural and technical functionality. Flavours, colours, and taste modulators boost the sensory experiences, and prebiotic fibres and enzymes ensure that other aspects of nutrition are addressed. 


The focus of these ingredients goes right to the heart of the technical challenges by not only taking on milk in the plant-based beverage market but also ice-creams and sweet-dairy desserts.  These ingredients can also be successfully applied in some of the more challenging products such as spreadable cheese.  These solutions should not be thought of in isolation in terms of developing ‘vegan’ products, but their functionality should be embraced for implementing healthy eating reformulation strategies.


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The power of Enzymes

Enzymes can unlock the nutritional potential and functionality of milk and optimise the performance and profile of dairy products. Enzymes are typically classified as a processing aid, so are not required to be included in the ingredient declaration, keeping that all-important label clean!   

Sugar is increasingly recognised as being the most significant contributory factor in diet-related disease and so reducing sugar in dairy formulations is important.  In other product categories, sugar reduction typically results in an expanded ingredient declaration as taste, texture etc. are replaced and rebuilt.  The application of enzymes, namely Lactase, can break-down the milk sugar (lactose) into components with greater sweetness, allowing lower in-use levels, and so reducing sugar. 

Enzymes can also be used to convert the lactose to Galacto-oligosaccharides, (GOS), a soluble fibre, which can enable fibre and prebiotic claims.  These are innovations that can be employed in milk, yoghurts and ice-creams as well as other dairy-based desserts.  Lactase breaks down the lactose into glucose and galactose; the end result is a low lactose product, making it more accessible to the estimated 68% of the world’s population which suffer from Lactose malabsorption5

Sports nutrition products, such as those high in protein, appeal to a much wider consumer base to help improve energy levels and help keep active. Whey protein hydrolysates are a great ingredient to incorporate into beverages but often come with technical challenges which might limit their application. The right enzymes can again be employed to address the functionality issues of shelf stability and taste profile. The secret is to know the solution exists, and who to ask.

But it’s not just about the nutritional profile.  Desserts need to be indulgent, and a stronger protein network within a yoghurt, increases its viscosity, and the perception of creaminess and luxury can be enabled through the selection of the right enzyme treatment. 

When it comes to dairy products, whether Ready to Drink (RTD) beverages or luxury desserts, don’t overlook enzymes and the benefits they can un-lock.

Discuss enzymes with the technical team

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Making the right choice

Dairy products are under considerable pressure to provide indulgent products with improved nutritional profiles, which isn’t always straightforward. But, across the wide range of dairy products, there is significant opportunity to rise to the challenge of improving their nutritional profile.  Careful selection of the right ingredients, with the right partner, certainly has to be the most positive step any producer can make.








  1. https://www.fooddrinkeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/FoodDrinkEurope-Data-Trends-2021-digital.pdf
  2. Global Dairy Desserts Market – Industry Trends and Forecast to 2029 https://www.databridgemarketresearch.com/reports/global-dairy-desserts-market
  3. Frozen desserts market - growth, trends, covid-19 impact, and forecasts (2022 – 2027). https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/frozen-dessert-market
  4. All the food claims and benefits you need to keep dairy consumers healthier, and happier Novozymes Dairy E-book https://biosolutions.novozymes.com/sites/default/files/file_download/Dairy-Ebook_booklet_draftversion_1.pdf
  5. Storhaug CL, Fosse SK, Fadnes LT. Country, regional, and global estimates for lactose malabsorption in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2017;2(10):738–746.
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