Alternative cheese is a dynamic market. Analogue cheese is part of the market that is expected to grow soon, this suggests a promising future for cheese application technology. The short supply of milk production in some parts of the world has led to increased interest in the utilization of substitute ingredients from vegetable sources in producing some dairy analogues. The growth in the ready meals sector in recent years had been reflected in the increase in the demand for cheese as a food ingredient.
Shredded, diced, sliced, ready to use cheeses have been developed to meet the needs of the modern food industry as convenience foods continue to grow in popularity. Cheese analogues due to properties such an easy to cut, stretch and melt they are used by pizza makers.
Analogue cheese products are described as those that look like cheese but in which the milk fat has been partly or completely replaced by other fats. Analogue cheese can be categorized as either dairy, partial dairy or non-dairy. The category is determined by whether the fat and/or protein ingredients are from dairy or vegetable sources. Not only are cheese slices no longer allowed to be called real cheese, but they are also now called cheese ‘products’ due to all the chemicals and additives such as casein, caseinates, vegetables oils, starch, preservatives and others to help hold the cheese products better on sandwiches. Cheese analogues are being used increasingly due to their cost-effectiveness, attributable to the simplicity of their manufacture and the replacement of selected milk ingredients by cheaper vegetable products. Therefore, cheese analogues extend the supply and lower the cost. Another beneficial aspect of synthetic cheese products is the fact that many such products can be produced with an almost unlimited shelf life.
They have consistent quality, without seasonal variations, and they can be varied to meet desirable quality characteristics. With all the convenience and cost mentioned of these products what is their health aspect? Vitamin and mineral contents can be as good as or superior to those of natural cheese through appropriate fortification. Cheese analogues are very versatile products and there are opportunities to reposition the status of the analogue products from an “inferior” product to a functional food with health benefits.
Nowadays customers have become increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining adequate nutrition and instead of trying to develop low calorie foodstuffs, it is better to formulate foods with ingredients that help to lower health risks, as in the case of substituting animal fats by vegetable fats and oils, to give foodstuffs low in cholesterol and saturated fats and this has been possible with analogue cheeses. There is an ever increasing interest among consumers in food products which contain less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. Such products are useful in controlling body weight and reducing the risk of heart and artery disease.
As much as cheese analogues are nutritionally equivalent and cheaper, due to their unnatural image consumers remain distant and industry often sees these substitute products as being inferior to natural cheese.
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