The demand for plant-based food is constantly increasing. According to estimates, the market share of plant-based alternatives will increase fivefold in the future – from around two percent in 2020 to a good ten percent by 2035.
“The economic relevance of plant-based and plant-based nutrition is reflected in the increasing sales of vegan substitute products worldwide,” writes nutrition expert Hanni Rützler in the current Food Report 2024. It goes on to say: “Thanks to new technologies, plants have been reinventing themselves for several years. Compared to the first generation of many meat and fish substitutes, vegan plant-based products have now made huge strides in terms of taste and texture. Among other things, new technologies make it possible to reduce the long list of necessary ingredients and additives.”
This development is also confirmed by Dr. Matthias Moser, Managing Director of the Food Ingredients Division of the Stern-Wywiol Group: “Free-from has also been the benchmark for plant-based alternatives for a number of years. Of course, the products have to be convincing in terms of texture and taste. However, this goal must be achieved with a short list of ingredients and as few E numbers as possible.”
Networked collaboration creates added value for customers
In the Stern-Wywiol Group, the path to the goal leads to the Plant Based Competence Center. This is where the R&D specialists from the various subsidiaries meet. “The Stern-Wywiol Group is one of the pioneers in the plant-based sector. With the companies Planteneers, SternEnzym, Sternchemie, SternVitamin, and OlbrichtArom, we can supply our customers with plant-based complete solutions for every requirement and every market,” says Dr. Moser.
The interdisciplinary team of experts combines different areas of competence and thus creates added value for the customer. The specialists develop customer-specific solutions for a wide variety of plant-based products. Depending on the initial situation, Planteneers, Sternchemie or SternEnzym create the basis, while OlbrichtArom and SternVitamin bring variety to the range with new taste experiences and target group-specific micronutrient premixes. The experts at Stern-Wywiol Gruppe see themselves as partners who support the customer throughout the various processes – from the selection of raw materials to upscaling to large-scale production.
Targeted control of product properties
Plant-based experts demonstrate their cooperation well through the example of plant-based milk alternatives. The choice of supplier for necessary ingredients or processing aids (Planteneers, Sternchemie, or SternEnzym) depends on product properties and manufacturer’s technical conditions.
Cereals, especially oats, have gained attention as beverage bases, but grain-based processes pose challenges. Technical enzymes effectively overcome these challenges, particularly in oat-based milk substitutes. SternEnzym specializes in developing and applying functional enzyme systems for vegan milk substitutes.
Different enzymes enable precise control over final product properties and production processes. For instance, various amylases adjust sweetness and viscosity of cereal beverages, allowing specific declarations like “no added sugar” or “sugar-free.” Moreover, diverse proteases modify functional properties of vegetable proteins in vegan milk alternatives, like solubility and foam properties. Proper enzyme usage ensures smooth production of desired vegan milk alternatives.
When it comes to customers interested in coconut drinks, Sternchemie is the right choice, offering a vegan coconut milk powder as a great base for plant-based milk alternatives. The product delivers an authentic coconut taste in the final result. Moreover, the company provides a wide selection of de-oiled lecithins to stabilize plant-based emulsions and dispersions. Additionally, Sternchemie is actively working on innovative solutions to protect plant proteins from denaturing during production and storage.
For industrial partners seeking all raw materials or product stabilization, Planteneers is the preferred option. As an expert in plant-based proteins, the company supplies functional systems for various plant-based milk alternatives, including classic versions, barista drinks, and high-protein beverages. One example is their fiildDairy series, which offers an integrated compound, providing a simple way to produce “not milk drinks” closely resembling cow’s milk in all product properties. The compound blends oats, rice, and peas to create a sensory profile similar to traditional milk. It includes vegetable proteins, fibers, acidity regulators, and hydrocolloids, making the end product ideal for use in coffee and producing excellent foam. Fat content options range from 1.8% to 3.5%, comparable to cow’s milk.
Full enjoyment with an optimized nutrient profile
Plant-based alternatives, like conventional milk drinks, can be produced with various flavors, expertly handled by OlbrichtArom, a subsidiary of the Stern-Wywiol Group. Their customized flavors balance out the distinct tastes of different bases, resulting in end products closely resembling conventional milk, regardless of whether they are made from soy, oats, peas, or other plant-based protein sources. The options for individual tastes are extensive, ranging from classics like vanilla, strawberry, banana, and chocolate to unique choices like salted caramel or pistachio.
Milk substitute drinks are popular products in the plant-based segment, frequently enriched with micronutrients. Unlike milk, plant-based drinks typically contain fewer or none of these micronutrients. Fortification provides an opportunity to bridge the nutrient gap in these drinks.
SternVitamin offers micronutrient premixes for manufacturers to enhance their drinks with additional health benefits. They provide individual concepts, from simple premixes with calcium, vitamin B2, and B12 to more complex solutions tailored to customer needs. These premixes not only prevent deficiencies but also address specific target group needs, such as bone health, heart health, digestive health, or immune system support. Manufacturers can advertise these nutritional and health-related advantages on the product packaging, considering health claims regulations.
Nucleus for promising food concepts
In the Plant Based Competence Center, the owner-managed group of companies bundles the accumulated know-how of the various subsidiaries in a creative pool. Product managers, nutritionists, food technologists and marketing specialists develop creative concepts that are consistently geared to trends in international markets.
“When designing our product solutions, we have always combined market trends with scientific and technological know-how. The Plant Based Competence Center sees itself as the nucleus for innovative, promising food concepts and at the same time as a dialogue platform for our customers,” comments Torsten Wywiol, CEO of the Stern-Wywiol Group. “Thanks to the networked cooperation, we can provide our customers with the right building blocks for successful product concepts – from the selection of proteins to current trends.”
You can find more information about the offers of the Stern-Wywiol Gruppe at www.stern-wywiol-gruppe.de.meat fish milk beverages soy protein plant-based plant based