Plant-based Beverages & Frozen Desserts

Monday, April 10th, 2023

Plant-based Beverages & Frozen Desserts: Plant-based foods continue to gain attention through consumer demand. Therefore, understanding the fundamentals of ingredients is crucial at the beginning of the product development adventure. Contributed by Dr Cheah Han Sern, Futura Ingredients.


Futura Ingredients offers a range of plant protein and soluble fibre selections, and a wide range of emulsifiers and texturising systems to ensure a seamless application process for plant-based foods. 


Protein, an essential part of our daily diet, is one of the most important nutrients in any biological structure and is imperative for the formation of cells, tissues and organ growth. Additionally, protein is also important for building and supporting muscle maintenance. Research shows that protein has a more rapid effect on hormones which directly affect appetite, and therefore, could help increase satiety after a meal.


Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)

The Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) method is used to measure the nutritional quality of protein. Proteins are made of many amino acids. PDCAAS evaluates a food’s protein quality by comparing its amino acid composition to the dietary needs of the human body. The highest PDCAAS value that any protein can achieve is 1.0. 


Protein PDCAAS
Egg 1.00
Cow’s Milk 1.00
Beef 0.92
Soy 0.91
Pea Protein 0.80–0.90
Pumpkin Seed Protein 0.50–0.60
Brown Rice Protein 0.40–0.50
Wheat 0.42


Plant-based Beverages & Frozen Desserts

Generally, eggs, cow’s milk, beef and soy are considered good-quality protein sources and have PDCAAS scores of 1.00, while those from plant sources score slightly lower.


Dietary Fibre

Dietary fibre is broadly accepted as an important part of the diet and a common component of nutritional intake. Dietary fibre can exert a varied range of health benefits, such as decreasing blood pressure, reducing plasma cholesterol, and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, which mainly results from weight control and a decreased risk of obesity.


Dietary fibre is a group of highly complex substances. It includes natural and modified materials with different physical and chemical properties, which are not digested by enzymes in our small intestine. Research findings demonstrate different beneficial physiological effects contributed by different types of dietary fibre, which are directly related to their different physicochemical properties, such as solubility, water binding capability, viscosity and bulking ability.


Formulating with plant-based foods could be complicated as it requires the support of other functional ingredients to obtain certain desired functionalities. Emulsifiers and hydrocolloids are in this instance effective in providing the technical functionalities vitally important in the development of plant-based products. 


In this article, we will cover the roles of ingredients in plant protein beverages and plant-based frozen dessert.


Plant Protein Beverages

Plant protein beverage were initially produced for those who have allergic reactions to milk protein or are intolerant to lactose. However, due to a shift in consumers’ mindset, plant protein beverages are witnessing more growth than predicted. Consumers perceive plant proteins to be the healthier and a more sustainable source of protein with good amino acid profile. Other driving factors for the increasing demand for plant protein beverages are the rise of veganism as a lifestyle, and the increase in awareness of the importance of protein in weight loss diets.

However, for plant protein beverages to be nutritional, functional and of appropriate texture, it requires some additional fortification of other ingredients. Plant proteins are of a different format as compared to dairy protein. Because of this, there are number of technical challenges when producing plant protein beverages such as poor emulsion stability, phase separation, sedimentation, taste and flavour. 


Futura Ingredients addresses these challenges with the addition of Ekölite VITA Series and Ekölite KREM Texturising Systems as the solution to perfecting the formulation in plant protein beverages.


Frozen Desserts

Ice-creams are termed ice confection or frozen confection when the composition does not meet legislative requirement, for example its fat source or level, total solids and overrun* level. It has long been a practice to replace milk fat with vegetable fat in ice-creams for several reasons, like cost savings and easier access to the fat sources. 


*Overrun refers to the percentage of ice-cream that has expanded from the air incorporated into the product during the freezing process. For example, when you make ice-cream with an overrun of 30%, it means that you have expanded the product by 30%.


To make vegan ice-creams, the dairy-based milk solids non fats (MSNF) need to be eliminated too. This protein substitution is expected to cause changes in its texture and consistency. To avoid making vegan ice-creams that are dry and short in texture, it is necessary to increase appropriate sugar composition to compensate the missing lactose, with the addition of salt to balance out the missing minerals from the MSNF. 


Another potential challenge in vegan ice-cream making is the taste that plant protein powder might bring into the finished product. Many claim that plant protein powder tends to taste raw, beany or earthy. Therefore, selecting not just the right type but also the right source and origin of plant proteins are crucial. 


The more premium vegan formulations tend to use plant milk as they contribute a unique sensorial profile that could potentially mask these flavours of plant proteins. Examples are unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk.   


Using the Right Texturising Systems

Ekölite KREM texturising system is added to vegan ice-creams just as its dairy counterparts for enhanced product performances. The emulsifier used is typically mono- and diglycerides (MDG), which makes smooth ice-creams with good body and texture. The MDG interacts with fats to form fat aggregates required, giving desirable creaminess and overrun stability. This overrun stability from MDG together with the right combination of hydrocolloids give enhanced melting resistance and better security against temperature fluctuations within the cold supply chain, termed as the heat shock resistance.


Ekölite VITA Fibre, on the other hand, is a great fat replacer in frozen desserts, due to its ease in processing and its fatty mouthfeel. It also does not contain any unwanted off-flavour. Soluble fibre replaces the creaminess, smoothness, and mouthfeel of sugar and fat, enabling the formulation of high quality, lower calorie and reduced fat frozen desserts. Besides, soluble fibre like inulin and polydextrose influence the freezing point depression and help in achieving creamy, delicious frozen desserts.


Developing plant-based foods are interesting as one gets to explore various ingredients combination. The ultimate objective is to create a product that is well accepted, temptingly palatable, and shelf stable. 


It is important to formulate products with the right type and source of plant proteins, fibres, emulsifiers and hydrocolloids. Futura Ingredients offers technical support to advance product innovation and a wide range of texture solutions including Ekölite VITA Plant Protein and Soluble Fibre series and Ekömul KREM texturising systems. Reach out to Futura Ingredients to expand the dialogue on your plant-based product developments and challenges.



Sustainability at the Core
Packaging Trends
Sugar Alternatives
The Demand for Immune Boosting Foods
Plant-Based Formulations Using Citrus Fibre
Sealed Air: The Future Of Packaging Is Here
Food And Nutrition Trends
Getting It Right With Plant-Based Alternatives
Fibre — A Tasty Solution For Fat And Sugar Reduction
Digital Transformation In The F&B Industry
A Taste For Plant-based Cheese
What You Should Know About Smart Packaging