The main dairy products – including drinking yoghurts and cultured liquid milk, spoonable yoghurt, cheese, and flavored milk –are recognizable to consumers of all ages; they are eaten at all times of day and for many different reasons. Dairy’s long-held association with health has certainly helped its popularity, but recent years have seen a great swell of changes and reimagining within the dairy category. Consumers are increasingly seeing dairy products as a snacking and on the go option, with a rush of recent development bringing an array of single portion products into the market .
In many of these new products, which are largely trending towards lower calorie formulations, chicory inulin and oligofructose are critical components of the formulations for both nutritional and functional reasons. Functionally, long chain inulin provides an irreplaceable creamy texture to no or low fat formulations, which is exemplified by most of the yoghurt products on the market today, while short chain inulin is among the best options for sugar replacement. Nutritionally, chicory inulin and oligofructose are among the best studied and proven prebiotic fibers available. As gut health continues to emerge into the foreground of health sciences, prebiotic supplementation, perhaps especially in combination with probiotics will continue to become more valuable.
Beyond spoonable yoghurts and drinking yoghurts, which are growing application areas and ones in which prebiotics are prominently featured, there are many other dairy product segments in which chicory inulin has found great success. For many of the same reasons that chicory inulin resonates and works so well in yogurts, it is widely used in dairy beverages, spreads, cheeses, and desserts, especially aerated ones. Very few stabilizers or bulk agents can provide as many functional benefits as chicory inulin and none can provide the combination of functional and nutritional benefits.