For the last couple of decades, KMC has been a key supplier of potato starch to producers of cheese and cheese alternatives around the world. The Danish potato can be found in everything from melty pizza cheese alternatives to foil-wrapped spreadable products.
According to Ole Primholdt Christensen, Business Development Director at KMC, the plant-based substitute to milk protein has always shown great potential for alternative uses:
— Since we first started experimenting with potato starch in a basement in Denmark almost three decades ago, we have come a long way and today solutions for alternative cheese production are a core area in our business which we have developed and refined over the years, says Ole Primholdt Christensen.
Due to the development effort, KMC’s potato starch has the ability to support existing ingredients in the processed cheese-making process, giving the cheese alternatives the right textures and qualities. This counts for hard block cheeses as well as creamy white cheese alternatives.
And not only does potato starch improve the processed cheese-making process itself. It is also a cost-efficient substitute to animal protein:
— One of the things we have mastered is to replace some or all of the milk protein with potato starch without compromising on the taste, mouthfeel, and texture. By doing a partial replacement it is possible to stretch the use of milk protein and thereby produce more processed cheese with the same amount of milk, giving a positive outcome on the bottom line. In most cases, this is a key parameter when you are competing for global market share, explains Ole Primholdt Christensen.
Exploring the plant-based cheese territory
While creating solutions within the field of processed cheese, exploring the plant-based cheese territory is still quite new for KMC. But the expertise is growing fast.
— Within the last couple of years, we have increased our plant-based focus and refined our solutions. This enables us to make high-quality cheese alternatives designed for the specific needs of our customers – without any animal ingredients involved at all, Ole Primholdt Christensen says.
Our plant-based cheese alternatives are based on potato starch and plant-based protein and depending on the cheese’s purpose, the starch is modified to accommodate the demands. Whether it be soft, stringy, meltable, sliced, or something completely different. However, not all plant-based solutions are easy to replicate:
—When working on plant-based cheese we still experience a few issues. One is to improve our spreadable cheeses while another is to create the right stringy plant-based pizza cheese alternative you know from movies, which causes headaches across the industry, says Ole Primholdt Christensen.
Even though KMC is far ahead when it comes to non-dairy cheeses, there are still blind spots to cover and work to be done. The internal level of knowledge is high and so are the ambitions:
— We are really investing in this area right now. Especially when it comes to know-how and development but also in customer insights and equipment. We want all our own cheese alternative solutions to come in fully plant-based versions. There should not be one single solution within processed cheese that we can’t make on a plant-based level, Ole Primholdt Christensen states.
The ongoing development of non-animal cheeses continues, but even though plant-based solutions are a hot topic at the moment, KMC also continues to optimize existing solutions globally in close collaboration with their customers.
Interested in taking cheese to a plant-based level? Read more about KMC’s existing cheese applications here.