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Nestlé boosts plant-based portfolio with dairy alternatives

August 17, 2020
Food & Drink

Nestlé continues to sharpen its plant-based focus with the development of a wide range of plant-based dairy alternatives. These are touted as having high credentials for nutrition and taste as well as being environmentally friendly.

This comes as consumers continue to seek out different ways to balance their protein intake, move away from meat and lower the environmental footprint of their diets. It’s also part of the Swiss food giant’s strategy to position the company toward high-growth categories and pivot its businesses to changing market conditions while renewing its commitment to healthy and nutritional food.

Nestlé currently offers a variety of products made from rice, oat, soy, coconut and almonds. The plant-based and lactose-free products are suitable for consumers with lactose intolerance or those following a dairy-free or vegan diet. Examples include non-dairy Häagen Dazs ice cream, Natural bliss coffee creamers in the US, Nesfit rice- and oat-based drinks in Brazil, a new vegan-friendly Milo in Australia and plant-based Nescafé cappuccinos and lattes in Europe and Oceania.

Nestlé will also launch Starbucks non-dairy creamers in the US in August, a vegan Carnation condensed milk alternative in the UK in September, as well as a range of non-dairy cheese to complement its existing plant-based burgers.

Dairy alternatives & pea protein
The development of plant-based dairy alternatives takes place at several of Nestlé’s R&D centers including operations in Konolfingen, Switzerland. Using a combination of proprietary technologies, such as plant-protein extraction, fermentation and thermal treatment, dairy and protein experts create dairy alternatives with a creamy mouthfeel, superior nutritional profile and pleasant flavor.

Plant-based products made from pea protein is a key focus area for Nestlé. Ninho Forti+, an oat- and pea-based beverage in a ready-to-drink carton with a paper straw, was the first to launch in Brazil at the end of 2019. In January 2020, Nesquik GoodNes was launched nationwide in the US. It is an oat- and pea-based beverage with the distinct Nesquik chocolate flavor and 40 percent less sugar compared to similar products in the category.

Pea-based beverages
The company also recently launched its first fully pea-based beverage under its Nesfit brand in Brazil. Made from yellow peas, a 200 mL glass of Nesfit Sabor Natural contains as much protein (7 g) and calcium as cow’s milk and is fortified with vitamins A and D.

“Peas are one of the most environmentally friendly sources of plant-based protein, but when used alone, it can be challenging to turn them into a great-tasting beverage,” says Swen Rabe, Head of Nestlé’s R&D Center in Konolfingen. “By using our proprietary technologies, as well as our expertise in creating shelf-stable dairy products, we were able to develop a delicious pea-based beverage with a reduced sugar content when compared to similar products in the market.”

Globally, Nestlé has around 300 R&D scientists, engineers and product developers located in eight R&D centers that are dedicated to the exploration of plant-based products. To complement its internal capabilities, the company also strategically collaborates with researchers, suppliers, start-ups and various other innovation partners.

By: Gaynor Selby

Source: Food Ingredients First

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