Dairy-based ingredient developed for sediment-free kombucha: ‘There’s potential for a new range of kombucha-style products – including options containing whey’

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

Is there market potential for whey-enriched, non-vegan kombucha? Image source: Arla Foods Ingredients
Is there market potential for whey-enriched, non-vegan kombucha? Image source: Arla Foods Ingredients

Related tags: kombucha, Arla foods ingredients

By minimising cloudiness and sedimentation, the whey-based ingredient can be used to create clear, protein-enriched kombucha-style products.

Arla Foods Ingredients has developed a solution based on 100% whey-based hydrolysates Lacprodan HYDRO 365 and Nutrilac FO-8751 for the beverage sector.

Specifically, the offering targets fermented protein beverages, including kombucha, drinking yoghurts and clear protein drinks. The innovation ‘opens up new ways’ to give ‘protein beverages a twist’, according to the Danish supplier.

“The market for healthy beverages is incredibly dynamic, with categories like kombucha enjoying phenomenal success,” ​said Barbara Jensen, Sales Development Manager at Arla Foods Ingredients.

“With this new solution [our customers] can create on-trend beverages that are not only high in both protein and probiotics, but also stand out from the pack because of their clear, refreshing appearance.”

Lactose-free ingredient for clear protein beverages

Arla Foods Ingredients’ offering can be used to create high-protein fermented beverages that are ‘just as clear as alternatives without protein’.

Manufacturers can use the ingredient with thermophilic cultures for fermented drinks, or mesophilic cultures for kombucha-style beverages, both of which are high in probiotics and lactose-free. They can also be produced in a standard yoghurt line.

“There are opportunities in a range of refreshing fermented beverage applications, and with a range of different flavour profiles,” ​Jannik Einar Jakobsen, Application Specialist, Fresh Dairy Products at Arla Foods Ingredients, told FoodNavigator.

“However, in particular, it’s ideal for applications with probiotics and with a pH of around 4.6.”

Clear Fermented Beverages #2
Arla Foods Ingredients’ offering can be used to create high-protein fermented beverages that are ‘just as clear as alternatives without protein’. Image source: Arla Foods Ingredients

Being based on whey, which naturally contains lactose, how has Arla Foods Ingredients achieved a lactose-free solution?

“The ingredient is indeed 100% whey,” ​Jakobsen told this publication. “However, the culture we used primarily feeds on lactose, and we used our knowledge of this to reduce the lactose content to below 0.01% - which is the threshold for lactose-free.”

Non-vegan kombucha potential?

Kombucha, a fermented, effervescent tea, is a good source of probiotics.

The sector is seeing continued 30% growth in the natural channel and at least 50% growth in the conventional channel year-on-year. As a result, the product – made by fermenting sweet tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) – is regarded the fastest growing functional beverage category.

The popularity of kombucha, according to Arla Foods Ingredients, has been driven largely by two key factors: health-consciousness and the appeal of novelty.

But could the appeal of novelty extend to whey-enriched, non-vegan kombucha?

Demand for innovative dairy products is similarly supported by ‘ever-growing’ interest in health and wellness, which in turn increases the need for nutritious and natural beverage options, Katrine Helen Fruergaard Holm, Industry Marketing Manager, Dairy and Bakery, Arla Foods Ingredients, told us.

“The market has grown thanks to adventurous consumers, who like to try something new, and the interest in convenience, which opens the possibility of new formats. From that point of view, there’s definitely potential for a range of new kombucha-style products – including options including whey.

“The key is for manufacturers to develop products that secure re-purchases and create loyal consumers.”

Drinking yoghurt alternative

Arla Foods Ingredients, a subsidiary of global dairy cooperative Arla Foods, believes that proteins – both animal and plant-based – can be used to develop proteins that meet many of those needs.

“However, when it comes to functionality and taste, milk and whey proteins are particularly attractive options, and for high-protein dairy applications, special proteins are needed – always dependent on the specific application and taste and texture requirements,” ​said Holm.

Milk and whey proteins, she continued, can also help increase the vitamin and mineral content of ‘many’ products – another ‘key goal’ for many consumers. “And because dairy is already perceived as healthy, it’s a natural inclusion in nutritious applications.”

Arla Foods Ingredients believes its new fermented protein drink concept is a ‘great’ example of meeting these demands within a ‘healthful soft drink’ or drinking yoghurt alternative.

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