DSM’s plant-based cheese solutions delivers authentic taste experiences

Royal DSM has unveiled a new portfolio for plant-based cheese, bringing together DSM’s range of solutions and expertise to deliver solutions for challenges in taste, texture and health. The portfolio includes dairy-type flavours and concentrates from DSM’s acquisition of First Choice Ingredients as well as texture, nutrition and colour solutions that enable producers to deliver authentic, dairy-like taste experiences.

The new portfolio supports the creation of plant-based alternatives that more accurately replicate the properties of consumer favourites like sliced gouda and cheddar, shredded mozzarella, parmesan and cream cheeses.

Elevating plant-based cheese alternatives

There is a significant opportunity for brands to capitalise on the plant-based momentum to create standout cheese alternatives that appeal to both plant-based purists and curious flexitarians. The plant-based cheese industry is growing at an increasing retail value of around 9% each year1. The steady growth is attracting a lot of interest from traditional dairy and specialised plant-based brands, with 388 plant-based cheeses launched in 2021 alone2.

However, formulation challenges often result in products that lack the complex, intense, and dairy-like taste, aroma and texture profile desired by consumers adding plant-based alternatives to their diets. For brands to stand out and succeed in this growing category, they must overcome these formulation challenges to give consumers products that more accurately mimic their traditional dairy choices. This all starts with taste and texture.

DSM’s plant-based cheese portfolio builds on the company’s expertise in the traditional dairy category. DSM’s history of innovating in dairy ingredients, combined with its understanding of consumer preferences in cheese qualities, plus its technical and application knowledge, helps producers meet consumers’ expectations.

Flavour-first formulation

Creating the right flavour profile is a challenge in the plant-based cheese category. DSM’s new portfolio enables taste complexity to be layered through a series of four steps. First of all, masking agents are used to cover off-notes from raw materials used, which can overpower traditional cheese flavours. Next, yeast extracts build the basic savoury foundation. Once the savoury base flavour is complete and off-notes are masked, process flavours impart typical lactic tones which provide the dairy taste profile. And finally, specific plant-based cheese top notes complete the desired flavour. Together, these yeast extracts, masking agents, process flavours and top notes provide the product with a signature savoury taste direction and umami flavour —meaning less salt is required in the formulation.

Flexible, sliceable, meltable and shred-able cheeses

Gellan gums, hydrocolloids, pectins and blends form the second critical pillar of DSM’s new plant-based cheese portfolio and help create convincing texture and mouthfeel. The functional properties of gellan gum are highly suitable for improving plant-based cheese texture, from flexible and soft like mozzarella and young gouda, to hard and brittle like parmesan. Using a patented technology, the gellan gum —in combination with the application’s starches and proteins —improves the slicing and shredding qualities of the plant-based cheese as well as its texture and bite.

Plant-based cheese is often low in vitamins, minerals and protein when compared to dairy-based cheese. Here, DSM’s nutritional premix blends of vitamins and minerals help bridge the gap, allowing producers to include micronutrients such as vitamins A, B2 and B12 as well as calcium, iodine, selenium and zinc, which are all prevalent in traditional dairy products.

Consumers expect their plant-based alternatives to mimic the shape and colour of their dairy counterparts. DSM’s beta-carotene solutions add an authentic colour to plant-based cheeses. Depending on the plant-based cheese variety, colour solutions ranging from yellow to orange can be blended to give that authentic appeal from the first look on a supermarket shelf.

“This new portfolio for plant-based cheese can really help producers take a big step toward pleasing the palates of today’s sophisticated consumers,” remarked Andre de Haan, Business Director Cheese at DSM comments. “Consumers are asking more of their plant-based alternatives and plant-based cheese has —until now —presented a significant challenge in crafting complex flavours with a familiarly cheese-like texture. It’s been very encouraging to see the reaction to our plant-based cream cheese, mozzarella, gouda and parmesan prototypes. Our customers have been consistently impressed by the balance of flavours and how accurately we have replicated traditional textures. We are already looking ahead at the next steps in helping brands and products develop further. Using our traditional dairy expertise, our teams are hard at work developing solutions for more varieties of plant-based cheese as well as improving its nutritional profiles to be even more in line with traditional dairy products.”

DSM’s new portfolio for plant-based cheese supports the company’s food system commitments which includes reaching 150 million people with plant-based protein foods by 2030.


1 Euromonitor, 2022

2 Mintel, 2022