Atura plant-based proteins for alternative dairy

20 มีนาคม 2567

      With trends in recent years increasing the consumption of plant-based food there has been a rise in the variety of dairy alternatives that are available on the market. Pulse-based proteins offer an opportunity for alt-dairy manufacturers to meet consumers’ expectations of taste, mouthfeel and nutritional value. In this article, we discuss the “nutrition gap” in some popular dairy alternative products, and how Atura Plant Proteins can simultaneously enhance structure and fortification. 

The nutrition gap in alternative dairy products.

One of the biggest alt-dairy growth areas is cheese with 377 new launches of dairy-free cheeses, in western Europe in 2023 (Innova 2024). From gouda to camembert to mature cheddar, even when going plant-based there is a desire from the consumer to get their cheesy fix. 

      However, the nutritional quality of these alternatives can be lost in the quest for comparable flavour. For example, whereas typical dairy cheddar cheese is 25% protein, the highest in plant-based launches in the last 3 years is 3.3%.(Innova 2024) 

But the issue is not isolated to plant-based cheese, Yoghurt typically has 10% protein, while plant-based alternatives have 0.5-4% protein (Innova 2024). Milk is 3.4% protein, and the majority of plant-based alternatives are on average 1% (Innova 2024).  

Health is seen as a key driver for consumers to incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets, therefore the nutritional profile of plant-based alternatives should closely track that of their dairy-based counterparts.  According to Innova Insights, protein is the most important ingredient for millennials and Gen X consumers. That’s why it inclusion is so important for brands trying to establish a foothold.

Atura’s range of pulse proteins offers structure building and fortification.

The clean label, allergen-free, emulsification and stabilisation properties of the protein concentrates can offer great structure-building opportunities. 

For example, AturaFP60, our fava bean protein concentrate, is ideal for white and cream-coloured applications such as cream cheese and yoghurts. It has low pH stability and contains a natural enzyme, Lipoxygenase. This has a natural whitening effect, removing the need for any additive colours.

AturaCP45, a Chickpea protein concentrate is ideal for harder cheeses at low inclusion rates or for emulsification to create dessert-like textures. The natural fat content of chickpea protein concentrate gives a very smooth and creamy mouthfeel making it ideal for custard-based formulations. Similarly to fava bean protein concentrate, the natural tanned colour of the chickpea protein concentrate gives the custard its natural yellow colour. AturaLP55, a Red lentil protein concentrate has been shown to work well for hard cheeses and as a source of protein.

In the case of the higher protein powders, both ATURA Fava Bean and Red Lentil 80% proteins are low to medium viscosity. This makes them perfect for protein fortification of dairy alternatives. Typically, hard cheese formulations contain modified starch and coconut oil. When adding additional protein at high levels, the structure is affected leading to softer, less stable textures. However, both the Fava Bean and Red Lentil 80% proteins can be added to fortify with protein up to 6%. Even at this relatively low inclusion rate, improvements in how the cheese grates and how it melts are clear to see. This can lead to a larger browning effect upon cooking as well as improved nutrition.

Other areas in which the higher protein powders include ATURA Fava Bean Protein 80% for stabilisation and protein fortification to give a source of protein claim in oat milk-based ice cream. ATURA Red Lentil 80% has good foaming and water binding activity making it the ideal protein to assist in the stabilisation of the whipping of dairy free creams. ATURA Chickpea Protein 60% is ideal for UHT milk fortification up to a 5% protein content. The protein is stabilised by gellan gum and the UHT process yield no cooked or burn flavours. Similar to the protein concentrate the Chickpea 60% has a good mouthfeel and colour making it ideal for protein fortification in alternative desserts and soft cheese.

In summary, we believe that our range of plant-based proteins provides genuine opportunities to optimise formulations that offer unique great taste experiences whilst making a valuable contribution to the health characteristics of many alternative dairy products. 

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