JUNE 2004--The price of cream, already high, is expected to continue to increase. Can you imagine the buzz in the industry if food manufacturers could lock in the price when it was less expensive? What if processors, frustrated with the functionality of heavy dairy cream, were suddenly able to work with something that was freeze/thaw stable?

Darifair Foods Inc.'s latest brainchild is a product called Identi•cal Plus cream substitute. The product is not identical to cream; it actually is better, say company executives. “We can stabilize the price for up to 12 months,” says executive vice president Jeffery Block, pointing out that Identi•cal Plus is already 25%-40% less expensive than heavy cream.

The product offers other “stabilized” advantages as well. Darifair scientists have succeeded in matching much of the taste and other characteristics of heavy cream, but with the enhanced capacity of freeze/thaw stability and resistance to harsh processing steps.

Originally launched a year ago under the name Daricream S-40 and again as Identi•cal, the product got a makeover in late 2003 when the word 'Plus' was added to the title and 2% of the fat was shed from the product. “With 18% butterfat, Identi•cal Plus is a healthier product. [Moreover] it still gives you the same quality, mouthfeel and flavor as the 36-40% butterfat cream,” says Block.

Stable During Processing

Unlike cream, Identical Plus is resistant to coagulation when heated, and is more stable to shear when either are used as a processing step. “If the equipment [deviates slightly from set parameters], it won't affect the product as much,” says Scott Brank, director of food science at Darifair. It disperses flavor better than cream, without requiring as much agitation during manufacturing. Unlike heavy cream, it does not whip, yet it helps formulators maintain a clean label because it is not made from fat analogs or fat substitutes (like many other cream substitutes).

A good number of manufacturers seeking a cream substitute use products comprised of ingredients derived from whey protein concentrates (WPC) or isolates (WPI). “Most of the WPC and WPI used to substitute for fat are reduced down in particle size,” explains Brank. The protein particles produce a mouthfeel sensation reminiscent of fat. However, “Protein is not fat, and [as a result] the flavor is just not quite the same.”

Identi•cal Plus is a one-to-one cream substitute that integrates some 99.5% dairy ingredients with a proprietary blend of stabilizers, including mono and diglycerides, xanthan and guar gum. The inclusion of stabilizers has the benefit of improving the texture of the end product in which the cream substitute is used.

“When people are making bisques, Alfredo sauces or cream chowder, they normally use starch to reach the viscosity that they want. With Identi•cal Plus [manufacturers or foodservice chefs] don't have to use as much,” explains Brank. In some cases, the presence of Identi•cal Plus' well-dispersed stabilizers means a manufacturer does not have to add in additional viscosity-enhancing ingredients.

Besides soups, Identi•cal Plus can be used in prepared foods such as dips, salads, sauces, desserts and baked goods, among other applications. The product is refrigerated and comes in packaging from 16oz. bags to tankers.

For more information:

Darifair Foods Inc., Jeffery Block