Vegan Cheese Innovation

For innovators of vegan cheese, replicating dairy cheese is not always straightforward.

Not only does dairy cheese provide a source of protein, calcium and vitamins A and B-12, but it is also exceptionally versatile. Vegan cheese has generally lagged behind in terms of nutritional value, with coconut oil and modified starches used as key ingredients. This is, however, beginning to change as consumers are demanding not only a satisfying taste but also the same nutritional benefits offered by dairy cheese.

Veganism continues to rise in popularity around the globe.

According to recent research, the global vegan cheese market was valued at more than $1 Billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 12%.

As perceptions change towards the ethics of a meat-based diet, particularly with regards to the environmental impact, demand for plant-based alternatives has soared. The Guardian found that trademarks for new vegan food and drink products more than doubled in the U.K. between 2018-2019. Since the lockdown, supermarkets have also experienced strong demand for plant-based alternatives to traditional food and drink products as consumers paid more attention to their diet.

Appealing to Flexitarians

Vegan cheeses also need to appeal to ‘flexitarians’, whose diet focuses on plant-based foods with the occasional inclusion of dairy and meat. Without the complete elimination of animal products, flexitarians may choose to include dairy cheese in their diets if they are unable to find a suitable alternative.

Part-time veganism is a sector that is growing, in part motivated by health and environmental concerns, with COVID-19 related food-chain disruption providing the catalyst for many. ‘Veganuary’ is another trend that is driving plant-based cheese choices, with more than 400,000 people signing up in 2020.

Vegan Cheese Innovation

Taking inspiration from the popularity of plant-based milk, vegan cheese innovators are starting to develop cashew, almond and oat-based formulations. Fortified with nutrients including protein, calcium, vitamin D and probiotics, plant-based cheeses are beginning to offer more benefits than simply being free from dairy.

As well as delivering an appealing taste and texture and nutritional advantages, vegan cheeses have another challenge to overcome; melting. To mimic their dairy replacements and conquer the flexitarian market, vegan cheese should be versatile enough to be used in food such as pizza. Achieving ‘meltability’ often means adopting similar techniques as are used in the creation of dairy cheeses, involving fermenting with select cultures and enzymes.

Learn more

At Uren, our team can help you take advantage of the growing vegan cheese market. We offer a range of plant-based ingredients, and our New Product Development team are ready to advise on bespoke requirements. For further information or to learn more about how Uren can support your plans for 2021, please contact sales@uren.com