'Complex' cultures meet rising demand for Feta-style cheese, says Chr Hansen

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

Feta-style cheese is the fastest growing cheese globally, according to Chr. Hansen.  © GettyImages/HandmadePictures
Feta-style cheese is the fastest growing cheese globally, according to Chr. Hansen. © GettyImages/HandmadePictures
Feta-style cheese is the fastest growing cheese type globally, according to Danish supplier Chr. Hansen, which has launched culture strains that produce a "rich and complex flavour" to meet the demand.

Made using two types of bacteria (Lactococcus lactics subsp. Cremoris ​and Lactococcus lactic subsp. Lactis.), ​Chr. Hansen said its Dvs White Flora product creates white, brined, Feta-style cheese with the same controlled acidification and same tolerance to salt and temperature but a richer flavour profile.

Enzymes and cultures are responsible for the taste and texture of cheese, and tweaking them can result in buttery, yoghurt-like or slightly acidic organoleptic profiles.

“Other cultures do not necessarily lack flavours,” ​said Jens Skytte Soerensen, commercial development manager for cultures and enzymes for cheese at Chr. Hansen. “However, consumers like to have different taste experiences and cheese manufactures do need to differentiate their products. Nobody would like a world where every cheese tastes the same.”

“The Dvs White Flora secures a rich flavour that is related to a complex set of aroma compounds. The flavour comes from the unique degradation of protein and amino-compounds,” ​he said.

“They are mesophilic bacteria, which means that they thrive at medium temperatures. These types of strains are widely available and used across a wide range of cheese categories," ​Skytte Soerensen told FoodNavigator. “But what is unique about the Dvs White Flora range is their formulation. Each culture system in the product series contains not only two types of bacteria but a complex composition of more than 20 strains, [known as] phenotypes.”

A growing category

According to Chr Hansen’s ‘market mapping’, which it performs each year, Feta-style cheese is the fourth biggest cheese category in the world but it is the fastest growing, with an average 5% annual growth in both emerging and developed economies.

This is closely followed by pasta filata ​cheeses, such as mozzarella, which is the biggest category in terms of absolute numbers.

“Growth in the emerging countries is driven by population growth, urbanisation and also increased investments. Growth in mature economies is driven by consumers’ desire for healthy salads and in hot cooking, where white cheese provides a source of both healthy protein, new taste experiences and even an alternative to meat.”

Skytte Soerensen could not “give any guarantees​” on whether or not the cultures could speed up the manufacturing processs.

“What we can say is that we have formulated this culture series to be somewhat faster than previous similar types of cultures,” ​he added.

The Copenhagen-based supplier has tested Dvs White Flora in cow’s milk (both standard milk and cow’s milk that has been concentrated by ultrafiltration) and said it had “no reason to believe​” the cultures would not also work with sheep and goat’s milk.

Feta cheese benefits from protected designated origin (PDO) status in Europe, meaning only cheese produced in Greece using a blend of sheep and goat's milk and to strict criteria can use the name. 

Common alternative names are white cheese, salad cheese or Greek-style cheese.

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