FrieslandCampina F&B tapping plant-based trend with ingredient innovation
FrieslandCampina Food & Beverage is leaning in on two trends it believes will be key to the development of the bakery, dessert and ice cream markets: indulgence and plant-based.
“We support our customers with ongoing and in-depth research to identify upcoming needs and trends in the market. Our insights indicate that consumers today are seeking a richer and more diverse offering to deliver feel-good moments,” Suzanne van den Eshof, Global Head of Marketing Food Industry at FrieslandCampina Food & Beverages, told FoodNavigator.
“There is an upward trend for plant-based alternatives. Consumers want more taste varieties, a balanced diet and take an interest in the source of their food and drinks in order to be able to make informed decisions.”
While the business is owned by one of Europe’s largest dairy cooperatives, van den Eshof stressed that plant-based innovation has long been a feature of her division’s portfolio.
“Plant-based is no diversification, but a key part of our heritage and complementary to our product range. Our specific business unit started out in 1894 as Kievit, producing butter and dairy products. Since the 1950s we have been in the business of spray-dying using mainly vegetable oils. In 1999, more than 100 years after the company was founded, Kievit was acquired by Friesland Foods, the predecessor of dairy company FrieslandCampina,” she explained.
“Now in 2021 we still spray-dry powders for application in the hot beverages, bakery and desserts markets and offer a balanced portfolio of dairy and plant-based ingredients. True to our Kievit roots, we cater to the needs of our customers – whether those ingredients are plant-based or dairy.
“We listen carefully to what consumers and customers all over the world want and address those needs by continuously innovating. With our whipping agents, fat powders, emulsifiers and (foaming) creamers we aim to add value to cake, mousses, coffee, milk tea and more, and enhance the experience.”
Indulgent plant-based innovation
According to van den Eshof, ‘all indications’ suggest that the plant-based sector will continue to grow, albeit from a lower base than dairy sales. According to Innova Market Insights, vegan claims were linked to more than 10% of total product launches in Europe during 2020. “The bakery segment in particular is one of the leading categories in vegan and vegetarian positionings. We also expect vegan alternatives to expand to new categories and products,” she noted.
FrieslandCampina’s expertise in ingredient development can play a crucial role for its customers, who are striving to meet consumer expectations for an indulgent plant-based taste and texture experience, the ingredient executive suggested.
“The challenge comes in delivering the taste and texture consumers demand in a plant-based product. On the one hand, consumers would like greater choice and diversity, thus vegan products. On the other hand, they don't want to compromise on taste and experience as they adopt vegan versions of products in which they are used to a dairy-based sensory experience.
“Our diverse portfolio allows us to offer our customers a vast array of dairy and non-dairy ingredients. Our business is to lead the way in developing ingredients that allow our customers to respond quickly and conveniently to emerging trends. We are driven ultimately, by what the end consumer wants.”
Each of the ingredients within FrieslandCampina’s ‘diverse’ portfolio boasts its own functional benefits and consumer-centric messaging, van den Eshof maintained.
“Each of our ingredients has its own benefits and advantages. For example, our dairy fat powder Kievit Vana-Lata BB75B is butter-based. With the trend towards cleaner and transparent ingredient labels and all-natural and artisan bakery products, this product leverages the goodness of dairy. On the other hand, our vegetable oil-based Kievit Vana-Grasa 80B 198 and Kievit Vana-Grasa 80B065 are locally sourced from ingredients in Europe.
“Our strength and added value lie in our understanding of our ingredients’ characteristics and their behaviour in different applications, enabling us to help our customers find the perfect solution and formulation for their particular application.”
Innovation builds on the foundations of this expert knowledge to strengthen FrieslandCampina F&B’s portfolio. Earlier this month, the company unveiled a new vegan whipping agent, Kievit Vana-Monte V98, which it bills as delivering ‘an elevated vegan sensory experience’.
“The issue with vegan whipping agents is that they can be associated with less performance, an off-taste and can be seen as an inconvenient solution. So the challenge in developing this Kievit Vana-Monte V98 vegan whipping agent was in combining an appealing taste with great performance e.g. in aeration or overrun. The result is a superior sensory experience with a clean taste, creamy mouthfeel, and excellent flavour release. It achieves excellent volume aeration, with up to 400% overrun. It is also acid-stable, attractively white in colour and powerful even at low dosage,” van den Eshof elaborated.
As a powder, this ingredient also has a long shelf life and is easy and ‘relatively environmentally-friendly to transport.
Innovation will continue to support FrieslandCampina F&B’s ability to meet evolving consumer demands.
In plant-based, the company is working on a number of projects, van den Eshof detailed. “We are currently working on plant-based innovations in hot beverages. Last year, we launched a new portfolio of Kievit Vana-Cappa and Blanca (foaming) creamers for vegan cappuccino, latte and chocolate. Our intention this year is to further expand our portfolio in this segment.”