Ice cream product development is both inspiring and challenging, says Paula Koivisto, Product Developer, Valio R&D. She is responsible for the product development of Valio’s Jäätelöfabriikki super-premium products. She works also as technical support for export sales.
"When developing our milk-based ice creams, it is crucial to use high-quality ingredients for all our products. In terms of milk, we have achieved technological expertise, and Valio aims for new innovations in milk powders and various other applications as well. For example, Valio Eila® PRO skimmed milk powder has proven to be excellent in terms of taste and providing a smooth texture in ice creams," says Koivisto.
Even small changes in the ingredient list can lead to significant changes in ice cream. For example, increasing the protein level in a recipe has a notable impact on the richness of the product. In the ice cream manufacturing process, there are many variables, that are closely monitored in product development and recipe formulation.
"Our tests have shown that Valio specialty milk powders allow for an increase in the ratio of milk powder in a recipe without issues such as lactose crystallization or sandiness in texture. This is a clear benefit, especially in the development of high-protein ice creams. It's also important to consider the changes in sugar and effects on relative sweetness and freezing point depression. This provides more opportunities for recipe development," says Koivisto.
"One trend we see is the rise of super indulgence ice cream, featuring multiple layers and exciting, colourful flavours. Consumers are looking for tasty ice cream with innovative combinations," says Koivisto.
There is a demand for healthy indulgence, especially in the context of everyday indulgence. This includes options with reduced sugar, high protein content, and lactose-free alternatives. Vegan products also attract significant interest. These "better-for-you" products cater to different motivations that people have. "We have noticed that protein gives a green light to indulgence in desserts and ice cream. Consumers see protein as a natural and positive component of food, allowing for a balance between deliciousness and healthiness," continues Koivisto.
Premiumization is also observed in the taste and texture of ice cream novelties. There is a growing demand for rich, indulgent, and creamy products. "By using the right ingredients, it is possible to create full-flavored products that provide consumers with the indulgent experience they desire. We have used Valio Eila® specialty dairy powders in our recipes from the start to gain a smoother mouthfeel. All our products are also lactose-free as consumers are really looking for that," explains Koivisto.
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