Consumer interest in vegetarian and vegan products is constantly growing. However, plant-based alternatives to yogurt currently remain a niche product. This is because they have shortcomings in their texture and sensory properties, despite their many ingredients that include stabilizers, thickening agents, and flavors.
The objective of this research project is to minimize these shortcomings by using exopolysaccharide-forming lactic acid bacteria to realize additive-free products having good sensory properties.
The Fraunhofer IVV is collaborating with the Department of Technical Microbiology at the Technical University of Munich to investigate how the quality of plant-based alternatives to yogurt can be beneficially influenced by exopolysaccharide (EPS).
EPS has structure-forming properties in protein-containing products. These properties depend on the strain of lactic acid bacteria and the chemical and macromolecular structure of the relevant EPS. Also, the gel-forming properties of a protein product change depending on the raw material that is used. The lupine variety that is being used here (L. albus, L. angustifolius) plays a major role. The two aforementioned factors also introduce other quality changes.
The challenge in this project is to combine these factors in such a way that they have a positive effect on the texture and sensory properties of ready-to-eat yogurt alternatives.
Successful results will mean a new product line of sustainable plant-based alternatives to traditional yogurt. This will in particular aid the competitiveness of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) active in the rapidly growing market for vegan and lactose-free foods.