Innovative dairy culture Sweety® Y-1 produces better tasting yoghurt with less added sugar

Best Dairy Ingredient Innovation of the Year

These days, reducing sugar is the goal of many of the world's most forward-thinking food companies. Growing consumer demand for healthier options has helped spur on a flurry of new innovations and breakthroughs in the fast-growing functional food sector.

One shining example of this is the recent development of a new, naturally sweet dairy culture by leading global bioscience company Chr. Hansen. Following an intensive period of research and testing, in May this year the Denmark-based firm unveiled their exciting new product – the Sweety® Y-1 yoghurt culture.

Essentially, this groundbreaking, patented product allows fermented dairy producers to make a yoghurt that is naturally sweeter and doesn't require the usual high amounts of added sugar to make it taste great for consumers.

The unique, naturally delicious characteristics of Sweety® Y-1 were achieved by utilizing special properties of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus cultures. These select bacteria strains convert the existing sugars in milk in a way that leaves the final result tasting sweeter.

Typical yoghurt cultures break down the lactose which is naturally present in milk, using the resultant glucose and galactose for metabolism. The Sweety® Y-1 culture also breaks down the lactose, however it does not use the glucose for metabolism. This allows the glucose to remain in the final product. Glucose is sweeter than the residual lactose that would otherwise remain, thus is more pleasing to the palate.

This sweeter taste means less added sugar is needed to achieve the optimal end result. With Sweety® Y-1, the mild-flavored finished product tastes just as sweet as comparable yoghurts which contain higher amounts of added sugar.

Whilst the ability of Sweety® Y-1 to yield glucose is a great feature for the consumer, it is just one of several advantages for manufacturers, especially those in the APAC region.

One of the most important factors in yoghurt sensory is the interaction of sweet and sour flavour attributes. Common yoghurt cultures can be subject to a process called "post-acidification", where the pH of the yoghurt declines over the shelf life and it tastes more sour and less sweet.

Getting the flavour balance right is a particular challenge in APAC countries, where compromised cold chains and the warm climate can exacerbate post acidification and lead to a more sour-tasting yoghurt. Yoghurts made with the Sweety® culture are very pH stable and maintain a more constant sweetness over their entire shelf-life. This means extra sugar does not need to be added to compensate for the taste of post acidification.

This pH stability benefit could also mean that yoghurts made using the patented culture can last longer on the shelf without suffering a compromise in quality due to post acidification, even if there has been a breach of cold chain.

During the development of the ingenious Sweety® Y-1 culture, Chr. Hansen engaged with select dairy producers to successfully test the culture on an industrial scale. Since then, Sweety® Y-1 has been incorporated into products already available on the market and it's expected to become more and more popular as its benefits are more widely recognized.

"Our product innovation is based on more than 30,000 microbial strains – we like to refer to them as 'good bacteria'. Our solutions enable food manufacturers to produce more with less – while also reducing the use of chemicals and other synthetic additives – which make our products highly relevant in today's world," the company has written.

The solution is neat and effective. Speaking about Sweety® Y-1, Jens Kirk Andersen, senior adviser at the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), has said: "I think it's brilliant to find a bacterium that can breakdown galactose instead of glucose, so you get the same product but with a naturally better flavor."

The role of sugar in the human diet and its links to health issues such as obesity and diabetes is well documented and is not just a concern of the public. It has also been addressed by many more international regulators and advisory organizations, and is likely to be pushed further into the spotlight.

Most notably, the World Health Organization recommends reducing sugar intake across the board. Many national governments have followed suit by setting objectives to reduce sugar in foods and for some countries, declaring the amount of "added sugar" will become mandatory.

Not just total sugar, but "added sugar" must be declared on food labels in the U.S. from January 2020 for large companies and 2021 for small companies. Highlighting added sugars on the label creates pressure for manufacturers to create healthier products, as more transparency will show the integrity of brands.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is also focusing on "added sugar," stating that they will provide scientific advice on the daily intake of added sugar in food by early 2020.

Labelling changes will certainly impact the export business for APAC manufacturers, experts predict.

The pressure is on for dairy manufacturers and retailers to reduce added sugar, especially in yoghurt as this once healthy food is coming under more and more scrutiny.

Chr. Hansen is a leading global bioscience company that has a long history for developing natural solutions for the food, beverage, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Founded in 1874, Chr. Hansen has been running for over 140 years.

These days its main business is as a supplier of food cultures, probiotics, enzymes and natural colors. Its most popular products are cultures for the dairy industry, as well as cultures for meat and fermented beverages. "We are proud that more than 1 billion people consume products containing our natural ingredients every day," said a representative of the company.

Sweety® aligns closely with the UN sustainable development goals for 2030. In fact, Chr. Hansen has stated that 82% of its products contribute to the UN goals of zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, and responsible consumption and production. During the 2019 World Economic forum Chr. Hansen was named the world's most sustainable company.

The bioscience trailblazer is dedicated to improving food and health not only for this generation but for the generations to come. For example, earlier this year, the company made the "groundbreaking" promise to switch to 100% green power for the next decade, equating to an annual saving of nearly 15,000 Danish households worth of energy.

As consumers are increasingly focused on sugar content and looking for healthy, natural and clean label products that taste great, Chr. Hansen is answering this call with its newest product lines. The Sweety® Y-1 culture addresses the market needs in an outstanding way, providing a natural, tasty and healthy solution for fermented dairy.

The patented Sweety® Y-1 culture is the first in the world allowing dairy manufacturers to create naturally sweeter products while reducing added sugar, which is why it has been named by Duxes as the "Best Dairy Ingredient Innovation of the Year" for 2019 as part of preparations for the upcoming 6th Dairy Asia Pacific Summit 2019 (DairyAP).

Highlighting innovation and helping industry professionals stay informed all the latest developments is a key goal of the Summit, organized by Duxes, which will take place in Singapore from November 21-22, 2019. The leading platform for the APAC dairy market will feature a host of expert talks and discussions by major players, businesses, analysts and regulators from different countries in the region.

To learn more about this forthcoming Summit and to book your tickets to Dairy AP 2019 today, visit the event website here:

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