The science behind ice cream's magic
We have developed new technologies to improve the creaminess of our ice-cream without changing its calorie count. We needed new technology that retains the small air bubbles and the rest of the fine microstructure of the freshly produced ice cream in the product.
New technology for improved creaminess of ice-cream
Using conventional ice cream technology, ice cream is produced at -5 degree Celsius after which it is cooled down to a storage temperature of -25 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, during conventional cooling-down, the air bubbles in ice cream coalesce which is associated with a loss of creaminess of the ice cream product – people perceive ice cream with small air bubbles as creamy.
This loss of creaminess can be compensated for by a higher fat content of the ice cream, but this is not what the consumer wants. They want to enjoy ice cream without feeling guilty because of health concerns.
Leading by innovation
The challenge for our R&D team was to develop new technology that retains the small air bubbles and the rest of the fine microstructure of the freshly produced ice cream in the product available to the consumer. Our R&D colleagues from Port Sunlight, UK, suggested using extruder technology that they utilised for texturing soap. Basically, an extruder is a low energy pump for highly viscous material. At that time, twin screw extruders were state of the art, but this was developed further in our R&D laboratories in Colworth, UK, and Vlaardingen, the Netherlands, into a patented single screw cold extruder technology.
Combining different capabilities from different sites
The Colworth team contributed to this important innovation with their capabilities in microstructure understanding and sensory characterisation and Vlaardingen contributed with their capabilities in processing and equipment design technology. The first single screw cold extruder was produced for our factory in St Dizier, France, and is still working today, producing Carte d'Or Light to the great satisfaction of our consumers. Besides being able to reduce the fat content of the product, this new technology also reduces raw material and equipment costs.
Soon after introducing the new single screw cold extrusion technology it became clear that the real challenge for applying this technology to our full range of ice cream products was controlling down-stream processing. This is about adding ingredients such as fruit via a substream to the frozen and highly viscous mainstream of ice cream, without interrupting its fine microstructure. Identifying and solving all issues and implementing these on a factory scale was focused on our factory in Hellendoorn, The Netherlands, by a joint Colworth and Vlaardingen team.
Low fat ice cream with full fat quality
The single screw cold extrusion technology has also been introduced in the US, where our Breyer brand is market leader in ice cream and is also leading the healthier ice cream segment. Using this new technology they were able to successfully launch a reduced fat (6% fat) packaged ice cream with full fat quality, claiming an 'extra creamy taste'.