Plant-based milk alternatives an emerging segment of functional beverages: a review

J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Sep;53(9):3408-3423. doi: 10.1007/s13197-016-2328-3. Epub 2016 Sep 2.

Abstract

Plant-based or non-dairy milk alternative is the fast growing segment in newer food product development category of functional and specialty beverage across the globe. Nowadays, cow milk allergy, lactose intolerance, calorie concern and prevalence of hypercholesterolemia, more preference to vegan diets has influenced consumers towards choosing cow milk alternatives. Plant-based milk alternatives are a rising trend, which can serve as an inexpensive alternate to poor economic group of developing countries and in places, where cow's milk supply is insufficient. Though numerous types of innovative food beverages from plant sources are being exploited for cow milk alternative, many of these faces some/any type of technological issues; either related to processing or preservation. Majority of these milk alternatives lack nutritional balance when compared to bovine milk, however they contain functionally active components with health promoting properties which attracts health conscious consumers. In case of legume based milk alternatives, sensory acceptability is a major limiting factor for its wide popularity. New and advanced non-thermal processing technologies such as ultra high temperature treatment, ultra high pressure homogenization, pulsed electric field processing are being researched for tackling the problems related to increase of shelf life, emulsion stability, nutritional completeness and sensory acceptability of the final product. Concerted research efforts are required in coming years in functional beverages segment to prepare tailor-made newer products which are palatable as well as nutritionally adequate.

Keywords: Emulsion stability; Fortification; Lactose intolerance; Non-thermal technologies; Plant-based milk alternatives; Shelf life.