The food industry is working to offer in their catalogues more alternatives to dairy products that can satisfy new food trends and can also offer new, superior consumption experiences.
In the search for the perfect ingredient for this growing category, nuts keep rising to the top with each passing year, becoming a driver of innovation at every level. In this article we will take a look at how this segment is growing and which nuts are taking the lead.
Dairy alternative products
Increased interest in dairy alternatives stems from many drivers, including the avoidance of dairy allergens; desire for clean label products; compatibility with vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian lifestyles; and concerns about sustainability and animal welfare.
All of these drivers have exponentially bolstered the demand for these product lines on the market, which range from beverages to ice creams, cheeses, creams or frozen desserts.
Global sales of dairy alternatives reached 12 billion dollars in 2017 and, according to a report by Grand View Research of January, 2019, they are expected to reach 41 billion dollars by 2025. Moreover, according to a 2020 study by The Smart Protein Project, the consumption of plant-based products in Europe has increased by 43% in the last 2 years.
Increasing demand for almond milk due to its nutritional benefits is likely to contribute to the segment growth.
How is the dairy alternative product market growing? If we take a look at the latest study by Nielsen for the Plant-Based Organization in the United States in relation to dairy, vegetable milk is still king, buy the growth experienced by other segments is an eye-opener. For example, the consumption of plant-based yoghurts rose 20% (up to 7 times that of conventional yoghurts) and the consumption of plant-based cheese increased by 42% – almost double that of conventional cheese.
One of the challenges faced by the industry that develops these alternatives is the need to offer consumers the same flavour and texture experiences as conventional dairy products. In order to maintain those sensations, it is necessary to turn to ingredients that effectively substitute the texture and creaminess of milk, such as almond paste.
Main nuts in the development of dairy alternatives
Walnuts and almonds are two of the most-used nuts in the formulation of dairy alternative products, whether due to their organoleptic qualities or to their ability to offer textures or a meatiness that is similar to those of the original products. Below we will go over how these ingredients are being introduced across different segments.
You might be interested in: Discover Itac Professional’s nut catalogue for the food industry
Almond-based dairy alternative products
Almonds are among the most valued ingredients in the manufacture of lactose-free products in today’s market. Every almond format allows for experimenting with the texture and boosting the flavour. Its most common applications include:
- Whole almond as the basis of vegetable beverages.
- Almond paste as filling in pies, as an ingredient in ice creams or as an ingredient in beverages, yoghurts and vegetable cheeses.
This might be of interest to you: Take a look at our pastes catalogue for the food industry
- Almond-based vegetable beverages are also quite versatile in offering new flavours and hints to bottled coffee drinks or shakes, and are an ideal ingredient for categories such as cold-pressed juices and coffee.
Advantages of almond milk
Almond milk is one of the oldest beverages of our civilisation. In fact, its history dates back to the 13th century, no less. Nowadays, its demand is increasingly climbing around the world, especially thanks to the growing trend of plant-based diets.
The current popularity of vegetable products has driven dairy manufacturers to dive head-first into the development of new product lines aimed at satisfying these new consumer profiles. Here it is worth noting that almond milk formulations can offer some of the lowest fat and sugar contents of all plant-based alternatives and conventional milks – a major concern for younger generations.
Almond-based ice creams
In the ice cream segment, the flavour is the main driver among consumers, though new lactose-free formulations, low-sugar protein-rich offerings and plant-based options that stress the commitment to ethics and sustainability of their manufacturers are also gaining ground.
According to a study by Innova Market Insights, the launch of lactose-free ice creams grew by 30% in the last 4 years. On the other hand, the latest study by Mintel Global New Product Database concluded that 7% of ice cream launches on the market between the years 2019 and 2020 already correspond to vegan options.
For these types of products, consumers demand a texture that is similar to that of traditional ice creams. Almond paste is used to obtain it, which additionally has a neutral flavour that sits very well with the rest of the ingredients of the recipes, such as toffee or cookie crumbs.
Lastly, diced and chopped almonds boost the flavour when used as toppings in ice creams or yoghurts in general.
Walnuts have become one of the main ingredients in the dairy alternative vegetable product segment. In addition, thanks to their flavour, they stand out as a source of Omega 3 ALA, which offers new nutritional benefits to consumers.
Walnuts have the perfect texture, since they are neither too hard nor too soft. Moreover, these nuts also give a crunchier feel to yoghurts and vegan ice creams, boosting their flavour and nutritional benefits.
While almonds and walnuts are the stars of the lactose-free products we can find on the market, they are not the only ones out there. In the last few years, the importance of formulations using cashews, hazelnuts and peanuts has slowly risen.
In fact, major international brands are launching milks that combine different nuts, as is the case of almond and cashew milks.
These ingredients are gaining more and more visibility in an attempt to surprise consumers or bolster the nutritional value of the product, as is the case of the emergent peanut milk, which can provide more protein than almond in this category.
Itac Profesional, your ally in the development of new lactose-free products
At Itac Professional we are aware of the key role played by nuts in the manufacture of lactose-free preparations. Which is why we offer an assortment of processed forms of nuts to satisfy the needs of the industry. In this regard, manufacturers find in our company an ally for their new product developments in the field of ice creams, beverages, yoghurts and all kinds of sweet frozen foods, innovating in their textures, flavours and visual appeal.
For the manufacture of vegetable beverages we use our whole almonds and pastes, which are also a common ingredient in ice creams and yoghurts. On the other hand, our sticks are a resource used to give texture to different preparations, while the dices and slices act as an excellent topping.
Do you work in the development of dairy alternative products? Do you wish to obtain more information about us and our products? Contact our team of professionals.
WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR PRODUCTS? TAKE A LOOK AT OUR NUTS CATALOGUE FOR THE FOOD INDUSTRY.
California Almond. The Almond Milk Advantage.
California Walnut. Walnuts Enhance Dairy, Dairy Alternative Products with Texture, Flavor, Omega-3s