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Good for the gut: Adding sugar-free and prebiotic benefits to vegan yogurt products

What comes next after plant-based? Ready to respond to emerging trends, one of IMCD’s Australian customers looked to add new health benefits to its vegan yogurt without compromising on taste and texture.


Over the past few years, there has been a global transition towards a healthier and more sustainable way of living. IMCD has been working closely with customers engaged in producing plant-based food options that are in line with those concerns.

IMCD has had a long-term partnership with an Australian-based customer that specializes in plant-based dairy products. Most of their projects have been related to ice cream products. This time, the customer presented a new challenge: evolving their yogurt to go beyond simply being vegan. Always attentive to the latest food and beverage trends, IMCD was a good fit for taking these vegan products to the next level.

Embracing the challenge

At the time this customer approached IMCD, the Food and Nutrition group had recognized a growing consumer interest in sugar reduction and was promoting sugar-free solutions. “Our customer wanted to deliver a healthier yogurt solution with sugar reduction or no sugar at all—and more,” says Gwen Crothers, Business Manager at IMCD Food and Nutrition Australia. “They also wanted to deliver an extra benefit to consumers, perhaps something that could improve gut health, such as adding probiotics. And of course, we needed to include all these functionalities without losing the creamy, delicious taste of the original yogurt.”

The challenge was on the table: Develop a great-tasting creamy yogurt that has a no-added-sugar claim and also satisfies the objective for improved gut health. The IMCD team was excited and ready to take on such a challenge.

Understanding the texture and sweetness profile requirements of the finished yogurt was a key factor in developing a solution that would deliver on customer needs. In listening to those needs, IMCD understood that no compromise could be made to the new product in terms of taste and texture. The team also had to deliver on the targeted objectives, namely a no-added-sugar claim and the appropriate levels of prebiotic function for gut health. 

Developing a health-focused product that tastes good

The six-month development process involved the promotion of the concept of sugar reduction/sugar-free/no added sugar using Inulin and other sweeteners. IMCD regularly engaged with the customer team on the recipe formulation and improvement, as the customer conducted various trials in the laboratory and factory.

Through numerous stability trials at the varying dosage of the Inulin Fibre ingredient, IMCD was able to ensure appropriate prebiotic function at the end of the product’s shelf life. Following many discussions, options and evaluations, as well as panel feedback, the team and customer landed on a final product.

IMCD’s solution delivered the benefits that its customer needed: a no-added-sugar claim and a prebiotic function claim. The final yogurt product formulation included the use of Inulin Fibre and provided the desired prebiotic function, appropriate sweetness and smooth and creamy texture.

“This solution highlights our values of partnership and expertise,” says Crothers. “We were able to partner with this key customer and deliver consumer-trend solutions using our expertise in ingredients and processing. We are very confident in applying the technology of Inulin for sugar reduction and prebiotic-based projects in the future.”

In the end, this is more than a vegan product. The current claims embrace different audiences with different needs: prebiotic, certified organic, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, all natural, refined sugar-free and preservative-free. IMCD was able to deliver value to the customer and meet their needs with a trend-based solution.

To learn more about IMCD's Food & Nutrition business, our portfolio and our technical expertise, click here or visit IMCD Australia.

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