How Food and Beverage Companies Can Use Lab Informatics to Innovate Tasty Milk Alternatives

Food and Beverage, Lab Informatics

lab informatics
The quest for healthier foods with fewer calories and less fat has reached even this classic morning beverage. What do food and beverage companies have in mind, and how can lab informatics help?
Image source: Flickr CC user Mike Mozart

As someone born with a mild lactose intolerance, I’ve never paid much attention to natural milk. I can’t drink it without experiencing unfortunate side effects, so why should I? It’s not like the lack has impacted my health, thanks to calcium supplements and soy milk. And as long as I keep my servings of cheese and ice cream reasonably small, I don’t miss out on other dairy products either.

Because of my blissful ignorance, I was shocked to learn just how many calories and fat are in whole milk. One measly cup has 150 calories and eight grams of fat, five of which come from not-so-great-for-you saturated fat. Common advice says that if these nutritional facts alarm you, then you should switch to low-fat or non-fat milk options to get the protein and calcium you want without the calories and fat.1 Except it turns out that you can’t really escape the sugar content. For example, the sugar in skim milk contributes to 55% of its calories, making it on par with soda.2 They say milk does a body good—but if it has that much sugar, is this sentiment actually true?

Food and Beverage Firms Can Develop Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Milk Alternatives

Given growing interest in healthy foods, food and beverage companies have turned their attention toward milk. It’s clear that low-fat and non-fat milk won’t satisfy consumers seeking fewer calories and less sugar. Even more to the point, low-fat and non-fat milk just do not taste the same as whole milk. I’ve heard that complaint from my friends more than once. And while I may not drink natural milk myself, even I can tell there’s a difference simply by pouring a glass of each. The thickness is not the same, which surely affects the flavor profile.

One of the reasons people persist in maintaining unhealthy eating habits is because they aren’t willing to sacrifice taste and flavor. Food and beverage companies have begun to apply this understanding to milk by developing beverage replacements. These milk alternatives promise more calcium with less sugar, fat and calories. It’s specifically designed for people who love milk but aren’t getting the nutritional profile they want.3 Even better, they won’t have to sacrifice taste in the process.

The approach allows food and beverage firms to develop a variety of milk beverage replacements targeting different demographics. They can create a product for individuals who want the taste and consistency of whole milk without the fat and calories. Or they can add flavors in the hopes of attracting younger generations. Companies can even reduce sugar content more for the most health-conscious consumer. The combinations are endless.

Utilizing Lab Informatics to Support Innovation Efforts

When developing new drink alternatives, food and beverage companies need to manage their data effectively. Proper data management allows firms to leverage experimental results for the purpose of gaining crucial insights and making informed decisions to boost their bottom line. It also benefits laboratory efficiency by ensuring that previous research can be mined, allowing users to confirm whether an experiment has been run previously, thus preventing duplicated efforts and streamlining the R&D workflow.

Is your food and beverage company interested in developing beverage replacements that meet heathier nutritional profiles? BIOVIA Experiment Knowledge Base is a laboratory informatics system that integrates with your facility’s existing infrastructure and can manage your innovative research. Due to its ability to track information from multiple sources, you can effectively plan and design experiments and analyze the results, allowing you to speed up the pace of innovation. Please contact us today to learn more.

  1. “4 Experts Answer: Is Milk Really Healthy for You?” June 29, 2012, http://www.livescience.com/36512-experts-explain-milk-health-benefits-risks.html
  2. “Got Milk? You Don’t Need It,” July 7, 2012, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/got-milk-you-dont-need-it/
  3. “What the heck is a ‘milk beverage’?” September 21, 2015, http://www.boston.com/food-dining/food/2015/09/21/what-the-heck-milk-beverage/kvhaMmufEjPuYKbfwiFjKK/story.html

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