Keep it creamy enough

by Jeff Gelski
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Yogurt manufacturers recently have promoted the presence of probiotics, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids in their products. Almost certainly, manufacturers want value-added yogurt to have the same taste, texture and mouthfeel as their conventional yogurt products. Gums may play a role in making that happen.

Sales of refrigerated yogurt items with probiotics rose to $455,683,078 for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 3, 2007, up from $314,778,348 in the previous 52 weeks, according to The Nielsen Co. Sales covered U.S. food/drug/mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart.

Although not as big a category, sales of refrigerated yogurt with "a good source of fiber" claim increased to $7,840,089, up from $6,441,209. TIC Gums, Belcamp, Md., recently launched a new ingredient designed for manufacturers in that category and the value-added yogurt category overall. The company recommends usage levels varying from 4% to 6% for its Dairyblend YG FB3.

"By using Dairyblend YG FB3, a manufacturer can include higher amounts of soluble dietary fiber without sacrificing the smooth and creamy texture consumers expect," TIC Gums said.

The company is not the only gum supplier to offer a blend designed for yogurt. ISP Food Ingredients, Wayne, N.J., has a Textureze YG line.

Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., adds inulin, a fiber, into its organic yogurt. The company lists pectin on the ingredient list. CP Kelco, Skensved, Denmark, said its Genu pectins find use as gelling agents, viscosity builders, protective colloids and stabilizers in foods and beverages.

Gums make list for organic products

Pectin works in organic yogurt products, too. The National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture this year placed pectin on its list of non-organic substances allowed in processed products labeled as "organic" or "made with organic." The finished product must be at least 95% organic to qualify for the "organic" claim. Sales of refrigerated organic yogurt rose to $125,230,110 for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 3, up from $104,998,560 in the previous 52-week period, according to The Nielsen Co.

The National Organics Standards Board on Dec. 18 voted to recommend gellan gum for addition to the list of non-organic substances allowed in processed products labeled as "organic" or "made with organic," according to IMR International, a marketing, consulting and industrial market research company that focuses on hydrocolloids.

"The recommendation has yet to be approved and converted into law, but it is most likely to pass in the next six to nine months," San Diego-based IMR International said.

CP Kelco petitioned gellan gum for addition to the list. The company said its Kelcogel gellan gum may be used in yogurt fruit applications along with such applications as icings, frostings, jams, jellies, bakery fillings, fruit juices, neutral pH dairy beverages and neutral pH soy beverages.

Prices continue to rise

Whatever gums or gum blends food or beverage manufacturers choose, they should be ready to pay more for them. Several hydrocolloid producers have issued price increases, according to IMR International.

"What is more relevant is that buyers are ‘on-board’ and accepting the increases as they try and keep them to a minimum," IMR International said. "There is a recognition that producers cannot absorb alone all the cost drivers.

"Each hydrocolloid has specific reasons for increases, but some general factors apply to most: Energy, shipping and distribution costs have increased."

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