The Next Generation Of Beverage Stabilisers

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

Brands are actively trying to shorten their list of ingredients and reduce or remove some items from formulations—but it’s not as easy as it sounds. When one thing changes in a formulation, it affects others, and innovative stabilisers should be introduced to correct the imbalance. By CP Kelco.

Consumers across the globe are seeking more from their choice of beverage. In addition to hydration, they want drinks that help them maintain their energy level or get better rest, boost their immunity and improve their health. These functional beverages may include protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, herbs and botanicals for added nutritional claims. Recent data from Innova Market Insights shows that flavoured milk, energy drinks, sports drinks, dairy and fruit-flavoured drinks make up the largest share of the functional beverage market. Innova also reports a 25 percent average annual growth in drinks with an “infusion” claim (Global, CAGR 2015-2019). In addition, hybrid products that combine categories such as dairy and sparkling beverages or oatmeal drinks with green tea are becoming more popular. 

Brands aren’t just adding new ingredients to their formulations; they are removing some as well. There is a belief among consumers that less is more when it comes to the number of ingredients on the label. So, brands are actively trying to shorten their list of ingredients and reduce or remove some items from formulations, such as artificial flavours and colours, sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It’s not as easy as it sounds. When one thing changes in a formulation, it affects the others. For example, natural food colours and flavourings can be less consistent and less stable. At certain pH levels, they even start to degrade. 

To address all this change and innovation, formulators are seeking more from their choice of beverage ingredients. Just as there are new product ideas emerging to meet consumer trends, there are also new stabilisers available to help formulators make the most of them. Working in conjunction with brands across the globe, technical experts are adjusting and producing a new generation of multifunctional ingredients to answer these challenges.

Stabilisers are the hardworking ingredient systems that help formulators keep ingredients suspended, enhance viscosity and prevent sedimentation in their beverage creations. As you know, consumers often judge a product’s quality by its appearance. Both dairy and plant-based dairy alternative beverages are known for their textural inconsistencies that can range from graininess and separation to clumping and creaming. Proteins—plant proteins in particular—have varying amounts of fibre and tend to lose emulsifying properties, becoming gritty with signs of sedimentation after processing. Stabilisers can help prevent unnecessary product waste by alleviating these concerns and the unsightly separation that can occur over shelf life. 


Achieving More Functionality With Less Ingredients

The next generation of ingredients are stepping up functionality to answer formulators’ need for fewer ingredients on the label that do more. There is an exciting new class of dual-function pectins developed with just this kind of function in mind. Versatile pectin is probably one of the most well-known and recognisable ingredients to consumers. It serves multiple functions in dairy and plant-based dairy alternative formulations, adding thickness, creaminess, protein stabilisation, suspension and mouthfeel. In addition, pectin can be pasteurised with milk, so no additional processing step is necessary. 

One new dual-function pectin grade simplifies the process for developing fruit yoghurt drinks. It can be added at the fruit preparation stage, delivering texture and viscosity with even fruit distribution and no syneresis or build-up over time. The pectin’s functional qualities then carry over when the fruit prep is added to the yoghurt white mass, so no other starch or stabiliser is needed. This is in addition to pectin’s other beneficial qualities of gelling, protecting protein and delivering a pleasant mouthfeel to complement beverage flavours.

Dual-function gellan gum has become the formulator’s go-to for working with neutral pH drinks such as dairy and plant-based protein beverages. It provides an outstanding, long-term beverage suspension system that stabilises insoluble ingredients and contributes a pleasant mouthfeel. Highly effective at low use levels, this dual-function gellan gum was developed with a brand’s clean label goals and shorter ingredient lists in mind.

Gellan gum is an ingredient made by the millennia-old method of fermentation. It provides suspension of calcium, minerals and cocoa in dairy and plant-based dairy alternative beverages while contributing minimal mouthfeel. So, you get suspension with a smooth pour but not the added viscosity. 

Another new grade of gellan gum was developed in response to the increased market demand for shelf-stable yoghurt drinks. Growing in popularity, ambient yoghurt drinks made with milk or dairy alternative plant-based protein, have the dual advantage of a nutritional protein beverage and a longer shelf life for convenience. It provides outstanding syneresis control, mouthfeel and structure in yoghurt beverages over the course of its longer shelf life. 

Creaming is the reverse of sedimentation, when dispersed particles migrate up instead of down in a beverage. As long as there is a density difference, oil droplets tend to cream. Increasing the viscosity with a stabiliser such as gellan gum can help to keep all the particles suspended. Carrageenan also provides long-term stability. Derived from red seaweed known as Irish moss, carrageenan has been used for centuries as a gelling agent. Other functions include help with suspension, protein stabilisation, mouthfeel, body and emulsion stability. It can also prevent creaming in hard-to-stabilise dairy alternative beverages with lower protein/higher fat content such as coconut milk.

Citrus fibre may be the definition of a next-generation ingredient. It’s actually a functional fibre derived from intact citrus peels and can be listed as such on the label. In fruit-flavoured drinks, citrus fibre provides functionalities such as suspension, mouthfeel and texture with good stability over time. It can be used in short and long shelf-life drinks and is compatible with standard manufacturing processes. It especially helps formulators working with reduced-pulp and reduced-sugar recipes. Citrus fibre provides a similar appearance to natural fruit pulp and adds mouthfeel and texture back. Fruit flavours come through especially well.

Whether you are formulating with fruit drinks, dairy or a new, plant-based dairy alternative base, it should be encouraging to know that there is a portfolio of nature-based ingredients to help you create the texture, viscosity, suspension, stabilisation and gelation you desire.


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