Grandview Research reported that Plant-based milk alternatives are now estimated at US$23 billion and is expected to grow 12.5% annually until 2028. The increasing consumption of plant-based milk alternatives are in line with consumers’ sustainability and environmental concerns, on top of other factors like milk allergy, lactose intolerance and calorie concerns amongst others.
Cow milk however contains high calcium at 120mg per 100ml, whereas in unfortified milk alternatives from oat, almond and soy, the amount is much lower ranging from 0 to 30mg per 100ml. As such, calcium fortification is generally adopted in preparation of plant-based milk substitutes.
Calcium fortification with Jungbunzlauer
Jungbunzlauer’s tricalcium citrate has several desirable properties for calcium-fortification of plant-based milk-alternatives:
First, the organic tricalcium citrate shows superior bioavailability compared to inorganic calcium sources such as oxides, carbonates and phosphates, which is indicated in several scientific studies.
Secondly, tricalcium citrate shows a solubility of 1.2 g/L at pH = 5 and room temperature. Therefore, it remains mainly dispersed instead of dissolved in the product matrix. This has the advantage of low impact on the taste and negligible impact on the product matrix itself since the effect on proteins and product pH is minimal – even at high concentrations and during heat treatment.
Moreover, tricalcium citrate is less soluble at higher temperatures and high pH, which is described as ”inverse solubility“. This is beneficial during heat treatment, as the risk of coagulation or syneresis and reactions with other ingredients of the product can be further reduced.
Undesired side effects of tricalcium citrate being mainly dispersed in the product are possible grittiness and sedimentation in low viscous products. The grittiness can be avoided by applying ultrafine micronised tricalcium citrate TCC M1098, which is also the finest available tricalcium citrate. The sedimentation speed depends on particle size and viscosity.
In trial studies, smaller particle size of tricalcium citrate leads to a reduction of sedimentation speed compared with the coarser granulations. However, without stabiliser like Jungbunzlauer’s TayaGel® HA (high acyl gellan gum), even the ultrafine version of tricalcium citrate shows a sedimentation of 90% after 5 minutes. The more significant measure to avoid sedimentation is to increase the viscosity of the product.
When producing a calcium-fortified oat milk, it is necessary to apply enzymes that break down the starch into glucose and isomaltose. Otherwise, the oat drink would show a porridge-like viscosity. Tricalcium citrate was added in the concentration of 120 mg calcium per 100 mL. For stabilisation, TayaGel® HA was added (0.025%) and in a last step, the oat drink was heated to 142°C (UHT, 287°F) in order to inactivate the enzymes and to ensure a long-shelf life.
In a follow-up project, Jungbunzlauer tried to close the nutritional gap between oat/almond drinks with dairy milk not only in regards of calcium, but also for potassium, magnesium and zinc (see Table 1.0). Mineral fortified oat and almond based milk alternative recipes were developed with the mineral profile of dairy milk. The final recipe for the mineral fortified oat drink contains 339mg calcium, 468mg potassium, 44mg magnesium and 2.4 mg zinc per serving (240 ml); and the mineral fortified almond drink contains a calcium content of 329mg calcium per serving (240 ml), 41mg magnesium, 477mg potassium and 2.2 mg zinc.
Stabilised with 0.035% TayaGel® HA for the mineral fortified almond drink and 0.025% TayaGel® HA for the mineral fortified oat drink, even after 21 days, no sedimentation or phase separation was observed in the mineral fortified oat and almond drinks.
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