TitleFoods for Special Dietary Needs : Non-Dairy Plant Based Milk Substitutes and Fermented Dairy Type Products
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMäkinen, O, Wanhalinna, V, Zannini, E, Arendt, EK
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Date Published01/2015

A growing number of consumers opt for plant based milk substitutes for medical reasons or as a lifestyle choice. Medical reasons include lactose intolerance with a worldwide prevalence of 75% and cow's milk allergy. Also in countries where mammal milk is scarce and expensive, plant milk substitutes serve as a more affordable option. However many of these products have sensory characteristics objectionable to the mainstream Western palate.

Technologically, plant milk substitutes are suspensions of dissolved and disintegrated plant material in water, resembling cow's milk in appearance. They are manufactured by extracting the plant material in water, separating the liquid and formulating the final product. Homogenisation and thermal treatments are necessary to improve the suspension and microbial stabilities of commercial products that can be consumed as such or be further processed into fermented dairy type products.

The nutritional properties depend on the plant source, processing and fortification. As some products have extremely low protein and calcium contents, consumer awareness is important when plant milk substitutes are used to replace cow's milk in the diet e.g. in the case of dairy intolerances. If formulated into palatable and nutritionally adequate products, plant based substitutes can offer a sustainable alternative to dairy products.