Chr. Hansen has extended its range of cultures for plant-based dairy alternatives and used them to create a breakthrough, dairy-free fava bean cream cheese that boasts sensational taste, good nutrition, sustainability, and affordability, in a formulation that can be allergen-free. "We have succeeded in producing a great-tasting, plant-based cream cheese alternative that delivers a nutritional profile similar to dairy cream cheese in a simple formulation with only five ingredients," says Christian Gilleladen, principal application scientist at Chr. Hansen. "We look forward to working with our customers to inspire innovation in this space, using our VEGA Boost cultures and application expertise to bring delicious plant-based cream cheese alternatives to life."
Development of the cream cheese was performed using expertise and best-in-class ingredients from Ingredion, AAK, and Givaudan who have been working together with Chr. Hansen on new plant-based dairy-alternative concepts at MISTA, a California-based future-food innovation ecosystem. Fava bean proved to have the right sensory, affordability, and physical properties to create a great product with the functional and nutritional properties needed in a spreadable vegan cream cheese.
Applying cultures and fermentation to raise the bar for plant-based dairy alternatives
"When we have presented this cream cheese to consumers, they have been wowed by the great flavor and short ingredients list," continues Gilleladen. "Producers see the relatively low cost and simple recipe and production process as an added benefit." This unique fermented fava bean cream cheese alternative can easily be tweaked by using flavors or spices that meet regional preferences for taste, texture, and appearance.
Key to the creation of this product was the development of VEGABoost, a new Chr. Hansen adjunct cultures offer increased flexibility in fast fermentation and provide an enhanced flavor experience.
"Chr. Hansen scientists used their extensive knowledge of plant-based fermentation to develop these VEGA Boost adjuncts," says Dr Ross Crittenden, senior director for Commercial Development. "The new, innovative bacterial strains in VEGA Boost offer customers a unique opportunity to tailor the fermentation process to specific product needs. Key benefits of using VEGA Boost include improved fermentation performance and more complex flavors —delivering flavor differentiation in plant-based dairy alternatives."
"These Boost cultures are the newest addition to our VEGA Culture Kit for plant-based products, first launched in May 2021," Crittenden continues. "The Culture Kit represents the industry benchmark in the fermentation of dairy alternative categories, including vegurts."
"As we observe continuing innovation in new plant-based ingredients, we are pleased that we can rapidly develop new cultures and application know-how to inspire and help our customers elevate their dairy-free products to take their business to the next level. Alongside the improving quality of plant-based raw materials, the VEGA Culture Kit has closed the taste gap with dairy-based cream cheese. Chr. Hansen believes plant-based cream cheese will undergo significant growth over the coming 2 to 4 years," Crittenden says, "and with VEGA Boost, we are excited to help contribute to this growth."
Partnering with Chr. Hansen for ongoing collaboration support
VEGA customers enjoy hands-on support from Chr. Hansen's dedicated global team of plant-based fermentation experts and application laboratories, beginning during the ideation phase and continuing through post-launch troubleshooting. Chr. Hansen also invests in consumer and market research to ensure alignment between consumer needs and the features that VEGA cultures bring to plant-based products.
This close collaboration allows Chr. Hansen to offer additional support through tailored innovation sessions, concept samples, collaborative research, and application assistance. By partnering with customers at every stage of product development, Chr. Hansen aspires to set a new standard for quality and customer service, co-creating delicious plant-based yogurts, and cream cheese.