All-in compounds for plant-based cheese alternatives

From camembert to cheddar to parmesan

With the Fiilddairy range of all-in-compouds, manufacturers can produce plant-based cheese alternatives from the various categories – from alternatives to feta, processed cheese and camembert, to semi-hard cheeses such as cheddar and hard cheeses à la parmesan.

In Germany alone there are some 150 different kinds of cheese, not to mention all the hundreds of cheeses in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy. So it’s no surprise that the selection of plant-based cheese alternatives is constantly growing.

Great market potential

Among the current highlights of the Fiilddairy series are plant-based alternatives to parmesan and grana padano. These traditional hard cheeses are used in many dishes around the world, so there is great market potential. The all-in compounds in the Fiilddairy range can be used to manufacture products using process cookers as well as cutter systems such as are used in the meat industry. The products can be filled into artificial sausage casings and hung in drying chambers. “We were careful to integrate this step, since it gives the final product a flavour and texture that can scarcely be told from the original“, explains Planteneers Product Manager Katharina Schäfer. „During drying the parmesan alternative develops a more intense flavour. Another option is to smoke it. We can also adjust the flavour profile using proteins or natural flavours, depending on what the customer wants. There are many possibilities.”

Convincing functionality

In addition, these parmesan alternatives offer convincing functionality. The systems use starch and selected plant proteins, with water and coconut oil stirred in.

“The vegan final products have a crumbly structure, just like the animal original. They can be grated, rasped and sliced, and have outstanding melt properties,” notes Schäfer. “The gratings are great for making little chips to decorate various dishes. Ultimately you can use them just like real parmesan or grana padano.”

Enriched cheese alternatives

Enrichment with proteins is also possible. With up to 5 % protein content, these plant-based parmesan alternatives stand out from comparable products. This is something that addresses a major consumer desire. According to the current Nutrition Report by the German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture, flavour is a key reason to buy for 64 % of consumers, while 47 % choose plant-based foods for health reasons.

For this reason, more and more manufacturers are looking to enrich their plant-based products with nutrients. Cheese alternatives are increasingly being enriched with vitamins and minerals. Here, Planteneers works very closely with its sister company Sternvitamin, which has developed a premix of the most important micronutrients contained in conventional sliced cheese. These include vitamins A, D, B2, B3 and B12 and the minerals calcium und zinc. Adding micronutrients also enables health claims on the packaging. One possible health claim might be: “Calcium is necessary for maintaining normal bones and teeth.”

Cheddar alternative with enhanced protein content

Enrichment of foods with macronutrients like protein is much more difficult. Even the best nutritional values won’t save foods whose flavour and texture aren’t appealing. But Planteneers has now succeeded in developing a plant-based alternative to cheddar that has a protein content of 7 %. By comparison, conventional sliced cheese alternatives as a rule have no more than 1 % protein. “Our system is based on a mix of plant proteins, and meets the requirements of clean label formulations, since it contains neither modified starches nor other E-numbers,” says Schäfer.

Serving the booming snacking trend

With its firm consistency, creamy mouthfeel and authentic flavour without off-taste, this plant-based cheddar alternative is suitable for many uses, whether as highly elastic slices or as cubes and sticks with sharp cut edges. These open up new market potential, since until now cubes and sticks have been largely absent from the plant-based cheese alternative segment. Furthermore, these formats appeal to the booming snacking trend, which opens the way to new convenience products.

Plant-based camembert alternative

Fiilddairy-series systems also enable customers to make creamy camembert alternatives with protein contents of 10 to 13 %.

“For this purpose we invested in a new cheese line as used in traditional cheese production. Naturally, ours is in a smaller scale for pilot tests,” reports Schäfer. “We’ve also done basic research and tested a variety of different raw materials. After many tests, we selected soy and pea protein. From these and other ingredients we made plant-based alternatives to starter milk, to which we added a vegan starter culture in our trial cheese plant.” Just like in traditional cheese manufacture, this was followed by steps like thickening, cutting and pressing, and finally resulted in a comparatively high protein content. Finally, the camembert alternatives were sprayed with a mould culture and put in a ripening cabinet. The result was final products with a soft, creamy texture. The mould culture gives them the classic taste.

Regional specialities expand the segment

The range of cheese alternatives is being expanded with further country-specific classics, trends and preferences. One current example is a plant-based alternative to cream cheese in jars, which is very popular in the Middle East. Another regional speciality is processed cheese wedges, also known as cheese triangles. Planteneers enables the manufacture of various alternatives to processed cheese preparations, in spreadable versions or as triangles. The advantage of these cheese alternatives is that they contain none of the phosphates otherwise used as emulsifying salts. Another plus point is that customers can develop the final product conveniently on a PC or tablet in 15 to 20 minutes. The Plantbaser digital product configurator makes it possible.

Published in dei 03/2023