Calcium cheese powder promises mouth feel benefits

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Calcium Milk

A calcium-fortified cheese powder is targeting beverage and food
manufacturers with a claim that it has resolved the chalky
mouthfeel typically associated with calcium fortification.

Minnesota-based Land O'Lakes Ingredient Solutions has introduced a patented range of ingredients it says will allow food manufacturers to significantly boost calcium levels in a market that has been flagging for some years. Most cheese powders, depending on the cheese used in the base, contain between 500-700mg per 100-gram portion compared to 4000-5000mg per 100-gram portion for Land O'Lakes new offerings. The company said the ingredients were suitable for "wet and dry ingredient systems"​ with sauces, dips, chips and crackers likely categories and would sell at a premium of 10-15 percent over its regular cheese powdered offerings. Calcium-fortified dairy powders for sour cream and butter had also been developed. If dosages are high enough and in the right categories products may be able to bear claims such as "a good source of calcium"."Consumers already know that dairy products are calcium-rich foods so these ingredients are an enhancement to what's already there,"​ Land O'Lakes Ingredient Solutions marketing manager Nicole Weber told "It's along the same lines as other inherently nutritionally-rich foods, like whole grains in bread or enhanced probiotics in yogurt. In short, it's not a stretch in the consumer's mind. At the same time, food manufacturers can differentiate their products through value-added nutrition."​ She noted calcium supplements were often chalky, large and hard to swallow. Technical challenges ​ Land O'Lakes faced two major formulation challenges in developing the ingredient. One was masking the chalky mouthfeel, the second was developing a process that allowed the company to incorporate a typically abrasive ingredient into its cheese powder production process. Its experience with dairy powders and spray drying helped in achieving this goal. "The structure of calcium (mesh-like) is such that it allows us to interweave it into the overall cheese powder formula during the production process (spray-drying),"​ said technical manager, Vicki Brewer. "The result is a uniform powder with a fully-blended flavor. The calcium doesn't give off a chalky mouthfeel because of the way in which it's incorporated. By comparison, the calcium used in calcium-fortified orange juice often visibly settles to the bottom of your glass." Calcium deficiency ​ The US Department of Agriculture recommended increased dairy consumption when it reconfigured the food pyramid in 2003, but statistics indicate about 80 percent of Americans don't get enough calcium. A similar situation in the UK led the British Dietetic Association to state calcium-fortified, non-dairy foods could be "very useful" in 2007. In a 2007 survey conducted by market researcher the Hartman Group, 68 percent of 2,978 consumers polled cited calcium as a nutrient they would "deliberately add to their diets" second only to fiber. The next highest ingredients were protein and whole grains. Despite these deficiencies the calcium fortified foods market has been struggling to match its performance of the 1990s as newer ingredients have caught the imagination of food formulators and the public. In 2006, the percentage of food and beverage products worldwide making "high calcium"​ claims dropped below three percent for the first time this century, according to market analyst, Productscan Online. Only 2.8 per cent of products made a "high calcium"​ claim in 2006, compared with 3.7 per cent in 2005. Land O'Lakes will be hoping its double-barrelled functionality can address this decline. "It is now possible to offer consumers new opportunities to increase the calcium in their diets while enjoying their favorite foods,"​ the company said. "For children, a diet with foods that are high in calcium is important to the development of strong bones. Calcium is also important to the prevention of osteoporosis in adults."​ The US was the primary market but relationships with international clients would continue to be developed. Flavors included mild and sharp cheddar, parmesan, romano, blue, and American cheese.

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