The company already offers a range of mineral sources that work well in water-based beverages but adding calcium lactate to soymilk, or other high protein drinks, presents a significant challenge. "The calcium lactate interacts with the protein and precipitates out, dropping to the bottom. We have found a way of ensuring that the calcium remains suspended in the drink for the whole of its shelflife," explained Barry Doesburg, the company's food and pharma manager in Asia-Pacific. Purac is still optimizing performance of the product, Puracal QStable, which is not yet in production. But the product, designed specifically for the Asian market, is expected to see good demand. As consumption of dairy products in the region grows, consumers will increasingly compare the nutritional value of soymilk to cow's milk. "Although dairy consumption remains relatively low in Asia, milk contains about 120mg of calcium per 100ml, compared with a maximum 20mg in the same amount of soymilk," said Doesburg. However in western markets, where soymilk has long been marketed as a milk alternative, experts have found fault with many of those that have been enriched with calcium. Studies have revealed sedimentation of the calcium in several products, raising doubts about their effectiveness. For example, a study carried out at Creighton University and published in Nutrition Today in February 2005 found that the calcium actually available in some soy and rice drinks can be as much as 85 percent lower than the amount on the product label, owing to the mineral settling at the bottom of the pack. Other mineral companies such as Israel-based Gadot have also developed a calcium product specifically for soymilks, a category that has seen substantial growth in many global markets. In Asia, some markets like Thailand have seen the category grow by about 28 per cent in the last year. Purac's new offering could also be applied to cow's milk products where manufacturers want to market a 'high-calcium' variant, said Doesburg. "In acidified milks, adding calcium wouldn't be a problem but for standard drinking milk the same precipitation would occur," he said. Purac's mineral line is already seeing substantial sales in the Asia-Pacific region, with Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan among its best markets. The company also plans to investigate whether it can make a calcium product to fortify tea-based beverages, one of the region's best-selling drinks. "The tannins, and other polyphenols, interact with calcium so we want to see if we can come up with innovative products to overcome these issues," said Doesburg.