Collaborating Towards the Future – Insights from the MUVA Kempten GmbH’s 5th International Conference

KEMPTON, GERMANY— Earlier this month, representatives from academia, industry, and regulatory came together in Bavaria, Germany, for MUVA Kempten GmbH‘s 5th International Conference: The Importance of Plant-based and Cellular Agriculture-based Alternatives for the Dairy Industry (5. Internationale Konferenz: Bedeutung pflanzlicher und zellbasierter Alternativen für die Milchwirtschaft).

With an impressive intersection of stakeholders from all aspects of the industry, this conference focused on providing an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue and communication regarding the challenges and opportunities facing plant-based and other dairy alternatives.

“This event created an intimate setting to have extremely important discussions with high-caliber members of each facet of the industry,” says Dr. Bernd Koehler, Edlong’s Vice President of Global R&D.

Dr. Bernd Koehler, Edlong Global VP of R&D

Dr. Bernd Koehler, Global VP of R&D

Connect with Dr. Bernd on LinkedIn!

He adds, “Everyone in attendance seemed to come with a sincere interest and desire to understand what others had to offer to the overall conversation. It was simply about presenting the facts, whether that was from university professors and their research, industry experts involved in manufacturing and commercialization, or regulatory assessment of the safety and labeling of these products.”

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Dr. Koehler believes that this unique atmosphere allowed people to be more receptive and to talk more openly about the issues facing development and innovation in the alternative dairy arena.

“While there was a great deal of optimism among participants, there was also a refreshing openness about the state alternative dairy finds itself in. For example, although plant-based products emphasize their sustainability as a selling point, there is the real hurdle of things like bioburden, or microorganisms that could impact the safety of agricultural products.”

Zeroing in on innovation, Dr. Koehler praises the candidness with which exciting developments in fermentation and cellular agriculture were discussed.

“Fermentation and the role it can play in enhancing the nutritional and sensory attributes of plant-based products was also a major area of discussion. There is a great deal of innovation happening in substrates and raw materials, as well as in enzymes and microorganisms used in classic fermentation processes. A spotlight was also put on the potential of emerging technologies like precision fermentation. Yet, as promising as it is, this technology is still in the early stages of commercialization, and while it may play a pivotal role in the near future, it’s not going to be the answer for most developers, yet. And that’s okay; by sharing ideas we can find ways to speed up this maturation.”

A theme fueling much of the underlying positivity was that consumers are the ones driving the growth of alternative dairy products in global markets. Despite data showing that shoppers desire improved taste and texture, many are either satisfied or committed enough that the segment projects a positive outlook.

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Combining this with the mindset shift from competing directly with dairy to competing alongside dairy could help set the course for future development and innovations.

However, according to Dr. Koehler, there was widespread acknowledgment that improving taste and texture is a top priority if currently uninvested consumers are to adopt dairy alternatives as everyday purchases.

“Winning over more flexitarians is a hurdle many companies will continue to face. These consumers have expectations built up over a lifetime of having dairy products in their diets. While the proliferation and improvement of these products can put a positive imprint on younger generations, getting their parents to accept and enjoy alternative options will work wonders for fostering a lifelong consumer base,” explains Dr. Koehler.

He stresses that product developers continue to struggle with creating authentic experiences that are as close as possible to the original dairy products. This is particularly true when it comes to off-note masking.

For this reason, Dr. Koehler’s presentation, Improving Consumer Acceptance of Dairy Alternatives from a Sensory Perspective, aimed to lend Edlong’s expertise and experience in overcoming these challenges.

“As we see a move toward more natural processes, we have to understand the issues that can be associated with them. The interactions between flavors and components of the application’s base may lead to flavor loss or changes to your flavor profile.”

He continues, “The three primary ways we’ve found best address this are to optimize your formula’s composition, utilize complementary flavors that can leverage inherent characteristics, and harness the power of new technologies. These include new ingredients, bioconversion, modulated flavor release, encapsulation, and masking.”

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Dr. Koehler emphasizes that while he has touched on these topics before, it’s crucial to spread this message as widely as possible.

“Having sustained success in the dairy alternative space is going to take continued work. MUVA Kempten GmbH’s event revealed just how much companies are realizing that collaboration and utilizing each other’s strengths is needed to solve these technical issues. With over a century of experience in dairy, four decades and counting in dairy-free, and our deep commitment to real collaboration, Edlong is looking to really make a difference in the future success of the alternative dairy space.”

Find out more about how Edlong can help your next alternative dairy innovation

Click here to learn more about this event and its sponsors

About Edlong Flavor Solutions
Edlong has the world’s largest portfolio of authentic dairy and dairy-free flavors that improve classic taste profiles for Cheese, Butter, Sweet Dairy, Cream, and Milk. Working closely with our customers, Edlong can apply the right building blocks to create tastes that uniquely differentiate a brand. At Edlong, we believe the taste of dairy can be innovative, inspiring, a sales booster, and even a game changer. That is why Edlong believes in Everything Dairy Can Be. 

Contact us or visit edlong.com.


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