Challenge salsa
Challenge Dairy Products, Dublin, Calif., prides itself on using whole food ingredients in its salsa cream cheese. It contains diced tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and other garden fresh vegetables.

Challenging ingredients

 What ingredients used in dairy products are the most challenging to replace with clean label alternatives and why?

Mark Rainey
Mark Rainey, vice-president of global food marketing for ADM

Mark Rainey, vice-president - global food marketing, ADM, Chicago: When making clean label improvements, the first step is to develop a deep understanding of the role, function and performance each ingredient plays in a product and how it drives consumer appeal.

Brian Surratt, senior scientist, Cargill: Chemically modified ingredients, while highly functional, are sometimes unwelcome on product labels. Their functionality is difficult to replace with minimally modified or native ingredients because they lack the inherent attributes associated with the chemical modifications. It can be challenging to overcome the problems with a one-to-one replacement. Often times, it is necessary to use multiple label-friendly ingredients, processing adjustments and overall recipe reformulation to achieve the same functionality and quality.

Traditionally, modified ingredients are cost effective and highly process tolerant. When processors opt to use native ingredients, this typically increases the cost of formulations. Because native ingredients often have lower functionality, formulators may need to increase usage levels, further resulting in higher costs. While it is necessary to provide ingredients that consumers want to see on their labels, it can be a real balancing act to deliver on consumers’ expectations, manage costs and produce a high quality and process-friendly product.

Left Field Farms milk
Left Field Farms is a new fluid milk brand from DanoneWave, White Plains, N.Y. The brand is all about being non-G.M.O. Another point of differentiation is the extra vitamin D fortification.

Stephen Cobbe, research and development director-dairy, Kerry: Cleaning up labels by removing very functional ingredients, such as artificial preservatives and emulsifiers, has a big impact on product food safety and shelf life performance. Developers need to carefully assess the microbial risk in removing preservatives, and also design more comprehensive shelf life testing measures to ensure product appearance and performance over extended periods. It is critical that you maintain product taste, texture, appearance and food safety over shelf life.

Judy Whaley, vice-president, new product development, Tate & Lyle, Hoffman Estates, Ill.: There are five common themes to consider when formulating a cleaner label yogurt product: texture, taste, color, stability and process tolerance. Texture is the defining characteristic of yogurt. Myriad stabilizers such as starch, pectin, dairy proteins and cultures, as well as a range of other minor hydrocolloids, can be used to create texture. The development of cleaner label yogurt products can be achieved with the removal of some of these ingredients to shorten the list, as well as with the substitution of certain ingredients for more label-friendly alternatives.