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Researchers discover lactic acid bacteria can create natural sweetness in yogurt

In a new and natural way to cleave milk sugar, researchers at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have developed a yogurt bacterium, which can cost-effectively and sustainably cleave lactose in yogurt applications. The researcher says it will be possible to create natural sweetness in yogurt with less added sugar.

Often fruit or berries are added to improve taste, and sugar or sweeteners are added to yogurt to increase sweetness. However, consumers are increasingly demanding natural foods with less added sugar.

The researchers developed a natural way to cleave the milk sugar, which relies on safe lactic acid bacteria. The developed lactic acid bacteria create natural sweetness in the yogurt, thus reducing the need for added sugar.

Lactic acid bacteria with lactase can break down milk sugar
Yogurt is fermented milk, and milk naturally contains around 50 g of sugar lactose per liter.

Milk sugar is characterized by its low sweetness, but by breaking down lactose with enzymes, more sweet sugars (glucose and galactose) are released.

Researchers have developed a natural way to cleave the milk sugar, which relies on safe lactic acid bacteria.


By breaking down 70% of the lactose in milk, the sweetness can be increased to 20 g per liter of regular sugar.

Commercially available lactase enzymes currently used for breaking down lactose in milk products are made using microorganisms, which involves a tedious and costly purification process. Furthermore, transportation from the manufacturer site to the dairy adds to the costs.

With the recently developed solution, the lactic acid bacteria-based lactase can be grown and used directly at the dairy and in the milk that ends up being yogurt.

In this way, the costs for purchasing the lactase and transportation can be reduced, they underscore. A sizeable Danish dairy group has successfully tested the solution.

The results are published in the scientific journal article “Consolidated Bioprocessing in a Dairy Setting – Concurrent Yoghurt Fermentation and Lactose Hydrolysis without Using Lactase Enzymes” in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Lactic acid scene heats up
Lactic acid, a commonly used ingredient in dairy applications, has recently seen a flurry of activity.

Corbion launched an initiative to increase its capacity for producing lactic acid and lactic-acid derivatives ahead of its announced expansion in Thailand, scheduled for 2023.

The company will also increase its capacity for producing lactic acid in North America by around 40% in response to the growing demand for natural food preservation solutions.

At the start of this year, IFF rolled out four new cultures under its Yo-Mix Prime series for yogurt manufacturers. The new cultures join the previously released Yo-Mix Prime 800 and 900 in helping dairy manufacturers solve many significant production challenges.

The company also launched its “extremely robust” lactic acid bacteria cultures for ambient yogurt in Asia-Pacific.

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