In this decade of rising input costs, ingredient selection has become increasingly important. That’s true in the dairy category where ingredients may reduce costs in applications such as macaroni and cheese, protein bars, and ice cream.

Cream and cheese are the most expensive ingredients in macaroni and cheese, said Jenna Krager, applications scientist for Butter Buds, Inc., Racine, Wis. Dairy concentrates like a combination of the company’s Cheese Buds 32X Cheddar and Butter Buds 32X may reduce the need for cream and cheese, she said.

Butter Buds has different cheese profiles that provide unique flavor profiles for macaroni and cheese, said Lisa Spurlock, principal scientist for the company.

“For a typical mac and cheese, Cheese Buds American provides a mild slightly cooked cheese with light butter notes,” she said. “Cheese Buds 32X Cheddar adds more cheddar notes with buttery undertones, and Cheese Buds Aged Cheddar gives a more adult flavor profile with savory cheddar notes. Dried cream extract adds richness and creaminess when removing milk and butter, and Butter Buds 32X adds salty butter notes allowing the removal of butter.”

Reducing the percentage of butter or cheese in an application also may reduce the total amount of salt and saturated fat, Krager said.

Butter Buds dairy ingredients add flavor and a full-bodied mouthfeel to a variety of food applications while improving texture and masking off-flavors and rounding harsh notes, according to the company. Butter Buds provide 80 times the flavor and strength of butter, which translates to better flavor and lower use rates.

Butter Buds featured Colby Jack macaroni and cheese with its Butter Buds cheese buds at IFT FIRST, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and expo held July 16-19 in Chicago. The cheese buds were used at a lower rate than standard cheese powders.

The types of cheese vary in cost.

“Instead of using a blend of specialty or mature cheeses, use a (lower cost) mild or medium cheddar but then elevate with foods already in your refrigerator or pantry: bacon, sausage or perhaps your favorite vegetables,” said Kyle Jensen, vice president, global sales and marketing for Hilmar Cheese Co., Hilmar, Calif.

Companies need to know their target audience when deciding which type of cheese to include in macaroni and cheese.

“It depends on if you are trying to satisfy a picky 4-year-old or elevate to be the favorite side dish at your next gathering,” Jensen said. “That said, I would suggest cheeses that bring the flavor, smoked cheddar, aged cheddar or Pepper Jack. I would encourage more than one variety of cheese. This is a great way to introduce new cheese varieties to your family or friends.”


Saving on whey protein

Hilmar this year launched PROtelyze Extend, a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate for nutrition bars. Besides adding protein, the ingredient keeps bars soft for a longer time, according to the company. The bland flavor does not affect sensory attributes.

“The firmness of a high-protein nutrition bar is positively correlated with the intact proteins,” said Kwok-Man Lee, senior research scientist, R&D for Hilmar. “Intact proteins bind more water, so the higher the intact protein, the higher the bar firmness. Hilmar PROtelyze Extend has a unique peptide profile that contributes to the bland/clean flavor profile. Therefore, the protein bar formulator can reduce the usage of a masking agent or flavoring agent.”

Formulators may use a whey protein isolate with a lower cost and achieve the same softening effect compared to other bar softening products, he said.


Cost reduction in ice cream

Ice cream manufacturers have relied on locust bean gum (LBG) or tara gum for mouthfeel and stability, but costs in recent years have risen for both ingredients, said Sheila M. Rice, key account director and regional marketing, Palsgaard A/S, Juelsminde, Denmark.

“Palsgaard ExtruIce 306 is an emulsifier and stabilizer blend containing mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids and guar gum,” she said. “It can cut cost-in-use by around half to two-thirds while offering much the same functionality as LBG. It provides a high and stable overrun, heat-shock protection and storage stability with similar creaminess, body, warmth of eating, structural cohesiveness and chewiness.”

In low-fat ice cream formulations, emulsifiers deliver not only improved creaminess and mouthfeel but also meltdown properties and heat-shock and storage stability, she added.

“In the dairy category, emulsifiers are often used to enable fats to be dispersed homogeneously throughout a product, which makes for a creamier and more pleasant mouthfeel,” Rice said. “They can be used to stabilize and improve mouthfeel in a variety of applications such as oil/water emulsions in chocolate milk drinks and oil/water/air emulsions in whipped creams.”