Whitehall Specialties Blog

Overcoming Application Challenges with Non-SOI Cheese

Standard of identity (SOI) cheeses have limitations that prove challenging when it comes to formulating a variety of prepared food applications. From price fluctuations and taste challenges to performance limitations, food scientists and formulators have their work cut out for them due to the fact that, by definition, SOI cheeses limit formulators’ degrees of freedom in creating winning formulations.

Whitehall Specialties presented “Formulating with Non-Standard of Identity Cheese” – sharing ways to solve those types of challenges using non-SOI cheese at the 15th annual Prepared Foods’ R&D Applications Seminar.

The two-day event gave attendees a focused look into specific applications trends and challenges. With more than 40 sessions, topics ranged anywhere from new ingredient technologies to formulation strategies.

Ongoing consumer trends including, the desire for greater nutritional benefits and unique flavors, were a major focus. These are just a couple examples where non-SOI cheese excels. Others include the ability to deliver exceptional value, great taste, and customized performance.

Exceptional value

While pricing in the dynamic natural cheese market changes weekly, non-SOI cheese is able to maintain a consistently lower and stable cost due to the use of ingredients other than cheese. In fact, as the price of natural cheese goes up, cost savings for non-SOI cheeses increase.

Whitehall’s customers benefit by getting product at lower prices without sacrificing performance. Plus, they are able to project their costs better because of the price stability that comes with non-SOI cheese.

The EZ Melt range of products is extremely popular due to its excellent performance, versatility in applications as well as its reliability of stable prices.

Great Taste

From pizza to burgers, soups and desserts, non-SOI cheeses are versatile in their flavor profiles. Expertly crafted enzyme modified cheeses (EMCs) enhance and intensify natural cheese flavors. Non-SOI cheeses allow for the greater use of new and innovative flavors to better meet growing market needs. Whitehall Specialties offers traditional flavors such as Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, Cheddar or Parmesan and even experiments with the unique, “big flavors” today’s consumer craves.

In taste tests, Whitehall Specialties’ Sandwich Slices can stack up against any of the big brand names!

Customized Performance

Custom formulations enable manufacturers to leverage non-SOI cheeses to achieve the qualities that allow them to match specific applications.

Take pizza, for example. Pizza consumers expect the cheese to stretch when pulled apart. Conventional wisdom says non-SOI won’t stretch. That’s simply not true. Whitehall Specialties’ customized formulations can provide non-SOI cheeses with the stretch and melt qualities so common to pizza. Our premium Pizza Topping is actually 100% imitation, but it’s the protein that gives it functionality.

Melt is another factor that can be controlled better with non-SOI cheese.

The level of melt ranges from easy melt to restricted melt based on the application. For example, the cheeses inside hot dogs, cheddar biscuits and on pizzas all require restricted melt features.

Consumers want to see the cheese. Without restricted melt, the cheese would melt off the products. Queso dip, on the other hand, requires an easier melting cheese. The smooth consistency unique to queso is due to non-SOI ingredients found in products like Mega Melt. Natural cheese cannot achieve the same texture. Cheddar cheese, for example, can’t melt at high temperatures to achieve the smooth texture of a queso dip. You’ll get a burnt flavor, and unhappy customers.

Whitehall Specialties is always looking to create the next great performer in melt ability.

Whitehall’s Excellmelt is another great example of delivering customized performance. The individually wrapped slices (IWS) range in melt ability. For cold deli sandwich applications, customers want to see a firm, fresh slice of cheese, but for burgers and hot sandwiches, a gooey melt is the desired texture. Excellmelt is the ideal IWS product for those hot applications where consumers are looking for the perfect melt.

Improved Nutrition

Recognizing that health and wellness is a significant driver shaping the industry, Whitehall also explained the flexibility of non-SOI cheese in creating better-for-you, protein-based snacks that can meet a variety of claims. These products are represented by the Whitehall Specialties ZERO brand.

Whitehall can enhance calcium or enrich our cheeses with greater levels of vitamins and minerals. Protein, fiber and Omega-3 can also be added. The company is really unlimited in how we can make our cheese better and healthier for the consumer. One example of our health conscious products is Low Sodium Pizza Topping.

During the presentation, Whitehall displayed two generic mac and cheese formulas. One used process cheese spread, cold pack cheddar cheese and seasonings. The second used process cheese product to replace the process cheese spread, cold pack cheddar cheese and seasoning resulting in a “cleaner label” with cost savings.

It’s not just what’s added, but what’s eliminated that makes Whitehall cheese better for you. Removing cholesterol and trans fats is a big benefit. Just as reducing other fats, sodium, sugar and salt make the snack a better option compared to other alternatives.

Our R&D experts are ready to help you solve your next application challenge. Contact us today.

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