A stabilized protein beverage is one that's homogenous and smooth without gelling or lumping.

A systems approach

Formulators must remember that texturant systems are application specific. A protein beverage that comes in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors might require a different stabilizing system for each. This is because the cocoa requires suspension, while the colors and flavors used in the other two likely will vary in composition, in particular, essential oil content of the flavors and heat, light and pH stability of the colors, if naturally sourced versions are used.

“Being able to approach the use of texturants in a systematic way allows customers to achieve their desired mouthfeel and taste,” said Joshua Brooks, vice-president of sales, Gum Technology, a business unit of Penford Products Co., an Ingredion company, Tucson, Ariz. “Efficiently dialing in to the right texture requires experience and a diverse toolbox of ingredients. That’s because most starches and gums work together synergistically. Finding that right blend can keep usage levels low, which helps control costs.

“For example, beverages with a high-oil content, such as a pina colada juice drink, require strong emulsification to prevent the oil separating from the water,” Mr. Brooks said. “Carrageenan can be somewhat effective; however, including an emulsifying gum such as acacia, along with some xanthan gum, will hold the emulsion longer in order to increase shelf life. Combined usage levels of the three texturants is less than using carrageenan alone.”

Fruits and purees also function as texturants in beverages.

“They build viscosity and contribute mouthfeel, in addition to improving a beverage’s nutritional profile,” Mr. Nichi said.

But they may be costly and texturants may help.

“In some juice beverages, specialty starches can contribute a pulpy texture, which is expected in this type of beverage, allowing for a reduction in costly real fruit pulp,” Mr. Brooks said.

Almost every formulated beverage may benefit from a texturant.

“They can help improve product appearance and sensory profile, while also providing potential cost savings,” concluded David Sabbagh, senior group manager-innovation, DuPont Nutrition & Health, St. Louis. “It is very important to select the appropriate texturant or blend system when developing your beverages. Depending on the texturant and the application, usage levels can vary significantly. It is critical to work with your ingredient supplier to make sure you are utilizing the best texturants at the most appropriate usage levels in your beverage development efforts.”