The rapid growth in free-from foods is testament to the consumer’s continued hunger for healthier products.
When it comes to dairy, lactose intolerance is the main medical reason why people avoid consumption. The high prevalence of tolerance to lactose in those of Northern European descent represents a relatively recent change in evolutionary terms. In addition, rates of lactose intolerance in the Middle East, Asia and Africa can be over 90 per cent. Fortunately, there are technological solutions for removing the offending lactose from dairy so that consumers need not miss out on the nutritional and taste benefits of dairy products.
The global value of lactose-free foods rose 8 per cent in 2015 to a total of US$6,7 billion [Source: Euromonitor], indicating that this segment provides good opportunities for retailers.
However, care should be taken in choosing the best products. Traditional enzymatic technologies for producing low-lactose milks have been available for decades, but they result in milks that are overly sweet and brown easily.
According to Dr Ross Crittenden, who leads Valio’s research and technology development, “Valio recognised that consumers want lactose-free solutions that don’t compromise on taste or the breadth of dairy products they can enjoy. They also wanted products suitable for the whole family.
“Valio’s Nobel Prize-winning R&D centre in Helsinki pioneered the development of zero-lactose milk that tastes exactly like regular milk. This milk has the added benefit of reduced carbohydrates, since it uses microfiltration to remove a portion of the offending lactose. Over the past 15 years, Valio has worked to deliver the widest selection of premium zero-lactose products across all dairy categories of any dairy company.”
Dr Crittenden continues, “The commitment to deliver best taste in this category has contributed to Valio’s lactose-free brand, Valio Eila, evolving over time, from a medical-solution brand to a premium taste position for all consumers, whether lactose intolerant or not.”
Valio Eila has grown to a turnover in excess of €160 million in Finland and Sweden. Today, in Finland, zero-lactose milks represent a whopping 17 per cent of all milk purchases. As well as licensing its patented zero-lactose technologies to a number of dairy companies around the world, Valio also provides zero-lactose ingredient solutions to food businesses.
For more information, visit www.valio.com
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