Working with oat syrup sweeteners – I could use your help!

I recently started working with all-natural, non-GMO oat syrup sweeteners on behalf of one of my clients (South Dakota-based Oat Tech, Inc.) and I would greatly appreciate your professional insights into and advice on how to best apply such ingredients to the manufacture of yogurts, grain, and nut-based “milk alternatives” such as rice, almond, flaxseed drinks, or even whipped-cream toppings and other dairy desserts, for that matter. At present, these products rely on sugar as their sweetener of choice.

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These (fructose-free) syrups are available as 80%-solids in 42 DE and 60 DE (dextrose equivalents) or as dried syrup solids (42 DE only). A strong advantage these sweeteners offer is that they have a very clean (non-bitter) flavor, highlighted with caramel, honey and vanilla notes. Their ingredient label designation is either [oat syrup] or [dried oat syrup solids].

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I was looking at how these syrup sweeteners affect mouthfeel and texture in non-dairy “milk” beverages (rice, almond, flaxseed, etc.) and fermented dairy products (yogurt, quark, skyr, etc.). I obtained very good results by simply stirring or whipping the oat syrup sweeteners into these finished products at levels of 5% or 10% – they contributed sweetness, texture and a “rich” mouthfeel to the products. For some of the high-protein drinks, the syrups significantly blunted their chalky mouthfeel and extended their flavor carry-through (especially for vanilla). A side question: is the high-protein content of these products the source of their chalky mouthfeel? However, these were just kitchen-counter evaluations – I recognize that they may or may not reflect production-scale realities.

I’m especially interested in these products because they are such fast-growth food product categories. According to MarketsandMarkets, the ($8.0b+ global, $1.5b+ U.S.) grain and nut-based “dairy alternative beverage” market is forecast to continue growing at a 15% compounded annual growth rate. According to the report, growth has been especially strong in the Asia-Pacific region. The high-protein U.S. Greek-style yogurt boom, meanwhile, continues to…well, boom! However, a number of these yogurts that I have evaluated have “mouthfeel” challenges, such as dryness or poor flavor balance and carry-through.

Questions:

  1. Could any of you food scientists, chefs or food engineers share with me whether you have investigated the inclusion of similar syrups (corn, HFCS, honey, rice, tapioca, etc.) into such products and recommend the best way whereby to duplicate the effects that I have observed at the kitchen-top level, on a small (laboratory)-scale, sufficient for show-and-tell presentations (short-of pilot-plant scale testing, that is)?
  2. Are there any formulation, quality or processing obstacles of which I should be aware?