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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Non-Dairy Cheese "Analogue" for Pizza

Cargill is probably the hugest company in the U.S. whose name isn't a household word. It's privately owned, the largest such company in the U.S., so it doesn't get the daily attention from the business world that companies with publicly trade stock receive. Cargill had revenues of $120 billion last year, or as much as Microsoft and Boeing combined.

That gives them lots of pennies to pay for R&D. A teeny portion of Cargill, which means huge by any other standard, is Cargill Texturizing Solutions, with a mere 31 plants on five continents.

What did they do in a Belgium laboratory? Come up with a non-dairy cheese "analogue" for pizza. Luckily for me, one of their press releases is in something resembling English, and by that I mean not filled with too many technical terms (rheological? syneresis?) for my brain to process.

Cargill has launched a unique breakthrough innovation that enables the cost-effective production of a 100 percent non-dairy cheese analogue for pizza and other prepared food applications.

Lygomme™ACH Optimum functional system (patent pending) replicates the functionality of dairy protein and replaces it fully at an outstanding cost advantage for the manufacturer.

Fabien Bouron, senior dairy applications specialist at Cargill Texturizing Solutions, explains: “Cheese represents approximately 15 percent of a pizza recipe and given its high and fluctuating price, it can have a significant impact on the cost of frozen pizza production. In order to protect their margins, manufacturers have traditionally had to choose between raising pizza prices, limiting portion sizes, or using a blend of different cheeses depending on their current market value.”

Lygomme™ACH Optimum functional system removes this instability by offering manufacturers a cost-effective cheese alternative for pizza which can be used to completely replace highly volatile dairy proteins. Furthermore, its appearance, taste and texture perfectly match those of processed cheese based on dairy proteins and are similar to those of traditional hard cheeses, such as gouda, cheddar or gruyere, thereby ensuring equal enjoyment and satisfaction for consumers.

A dairy-free solution for cost-optimization
Due to its specific composition, consisting of a combination of three starches, a galactomannan and a gelling carrageenan, Lygomme™ACH Optimum functional system is not liable to price volatility, eliminating fluctuations in recipe cost. Even when taking into account falling dairy prices, it remains highly attractive with up to 60 percent cost reduction compared with a standard analogue cheese (which on average contains 15 percent dairy proteins) and over 200 percent when compared with traditional cheeses such as mozzarella or emmental.

A dairy-free solution for performance
Furthermore, Lygomme™ACH Optimum functional system overcomes the technical challenges associated with the total replacement of dairy proteins, providing the same key physical and rheological properties as those of analogue pizza cheeses: taste, firmness, appearance, shreadability and melting behavior.

Each component has been carefully selected by Cargill’s expert team to play a specific role: allow and stabilize the emulsion, bring sufficient viscosity during processing, absorb the water phase, avoid oiling out and syneresis, create a strong network in order to allow the finished cheese product to be shreadable/sliceable, and have a remelting profile.

A dairy-free solution for health
In addition to the important cost and performance benefits, Lygomme™ACH Optimum functional system also offers health advantages as it contains reduced calories (less fat and no saturated fats) and reduced phosphate intake (no melting salts used). It offers a cheese alternative for people with lactose intolerance and a unique opportunity for vegans to enjoy a product that has the characteristics and taste of cheese but without any animal-derived ingredients. Last but not least, Lygomme™ACH Optimum functional system provides the opportunity to make analogue cheese without allergen labelling, and eligible for Halal and Kosher certification.

When will this be miracle goo be appearing on real-life pizzas? You have to ask the hard questions, don't you? I have no idea. At least somebody out there is thinking of you.

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