The Edlong Corporation, a 104-year-old company that specializes in creating flavors for various dairy products, is developing new flavors that can be used for vegan dairy alternatives.
Speaking to Food Ingredients First, Beth Warren, Edlong chief commercial officer, said that the company’s recent initiative, “The Taste of Dairy Reinvented,” was created for companies across the globe that are looking to bring authentic dairy flavors to nondairy products. The company currently boasts an extensive profile of dairy flavors, as well as 250 dairy-free flavors, although it’s looking to add even more of the latter. “For vegan applications, we see a real need for the typical dairy tastes and flavors, but of which are specific to plant-based products,” she explained.
“The trend for plant-based products has changed,” Warren said. “The majority of the population has migrated more aggressively towards including plant-based products in their diet and they want more variety when doing so. Frequently, these consumers don’t want to sacrifice flavor profiles and the overall taste that they already know and love.”
Around the world, the appetite for vegan food is growing, but the market for dairy-free alternatives, in particular, is booming. Last year, the market brought in $9.8 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.4 percent during a forecast period of 2018 to 2025. Consumption of cow’s milk, however, is plummeting. According to USDA data, dairy milk and ice cream sales have dropped 13 percent in recent years.
Despite the rapidly declining interest in traditional dairy, consumers, specifically Americans, are still seeking the products they know and love like milk, ice cream, and cheese, but without animal ingredients. This contrasts the European market, where consumers prefer the unique flavor of plant-based dairy products such as almond or oat milk.
“We do have to be careful about which flavors are ultimately desired by the population of consumers and those geographies,” Warren explained. “In the US market, the natural dairy character of milk that people were experienced within their childhood drinking is frequently desired. It often suggests that these consumers want the character of the dairy profile but they want a milk alternative – whether it is lactose-free products or a dairy alternative product.”
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Warren believes that Edlong’s decades of expertise in providing authentic dairy flavors, along with being one of the only companies to do so, gives it an edge in the plant-based food space. Many consumers, Warren noted, also seek an indulgent “mouthfeel” found exclusively in some premium dairy products.
“Indulgent trends are significant,” she said. “Research studies have shown that many consumers want a sweet treat at some point of the day, a ‘permissible indulgence’ makes them feel better about their choice. For example, our plant-based butter and cream flavors offer a richness and rich dairy mouthfeel rather than just the basic profile of a butter or cream flavor.”
Some companies, such as Brooklyn-based artisanal ice cream maker Van Leeuwen, have already unlocked the realistic dairy “mouthfeel” without added flavors. Speaking to the blog Sustaining Life in 2015, brand co-founder Ben Van Leeuwen explained that his signature vegan ice cream blend of coconut and cashew cream provides an ideal balance between solid and fat content, resulting in a texture akin to premium dairy ice cream.
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