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Ice Cream: This is how the taste is changing

Ice Cream: This is how the taste is changing

Few things are as satisfying on a hot summer day as cool ice cream. But while enjoying the ice cream, have you ever wondered how much effort goes into making ice cream?

The history of this traditional frozen treat goes back centuries, but modern frozen desserts, frozen desserts that are eaten after meals, are the result of months of research and development.

The outskirts of the Danish city of Aarhus can be considered the 'Silicon Valley' of ice cream.

Ice Cream Factory of 'Tetra Pack'

Among the businesses, including dairy products, engineering and service providers, there is a factory for food packaging giant Tetra Pack.

Future recipes and techniques are tested there while new products are tested.

"It's the first step in a long journey before bringing a product to market," says Elsbeth Bongrad, portfolio manager at Tetra Pak.

"We're testing what we see in the market next summer or two years from now."

The gleaming laboratory features steel barrels, refrigerators and a machine that sends oval ice cream onto a conveyor belt.

Tetra Pak's customers include the world's leading ice cream brands. They usually spend two or three days in the industry making and testing prototypes.

"We look at how it tastes in the mouth, what the composition is and if it works or not," she said.

A number of experts have provided specific types of support. The industry allows consumers to taste new flavors.

Which is the biggest market for ice cream?

New products are released towards the end of spring. Then the production is intensified for summer.

"Jadoyam has a huge investment in exploration," says Torben Vilsgaard, manager of Tetra Pak's Ice Cream Academy.

The US and China are the largest consumers. According to Tetra Pack, more than 25 billion liters of ice cream were consumed worldwide in 2021.

Meanwhile, ice cream sales have been high this year due to the extreme heat in the UK. According to NielsenIQ data, 28 percent more ice cream was sold in mid-August this year compared to a year ago.

How is ice cream made?

First of all, the milk is fermented. Milk and water are mixed with dry ingredients such as powdered milk, sugar, dairy products or vegetable oils. This liquid material is heated, homogenized, cooled and stored.

A Vilsgaard in a white coat briefs me on the process. He said that other ingredients are added for taste and color and necessary ingredients to make it usable for a long time.

"It gives a shape. That's where you get the flavor and when you eat it, it starts to melt."

After that, it is continuously sent to the freezer. "It's the heart of any ice cream production center."

A small unit produces 700 liters per hour, but commercial-grade freezers produce up to 4,000 litres.

The mixture is rapidly cooled and compressed in a rotating cylinder and air is also introduced into it. The ice cream softens slightly then it is placed in a tub and stored at a low temperature.

Although the process of making ice cream sounds simple, it involves a complex chemical process. The process uses ice cubes, air bubbles and fat globules in a mixture of water and sugar.

"It's one of the few products that can be solid, liquid and gas all at once," says Chika Inwick, who teaches ice cream production at University College London.

According to Invic, a biochemical engineering fellow, liquids and oils don't usually mix well. But he says that the use of emulsifiers will turn the fat in the ice cream into a liquid.

She said that it is necessary to find the right balance to give stability to the ice cream.

What research is being done

According to Invic, there is a change in the ingredients used to make ice cream, especially research is being done on what can be used as a substitute for sugar.

It also has some unexpected elements.

"It might even be 50 percent air," Inwick said, noting that air plays an important role in making ice cream stick to a scoop.

Commercial production is increasingly dependent on automated technology and Tetra Pak engineers have been working in an industry that makes over a million ice creams a day.

The firm estimates that its equipment produces half of the world's ice cream.

Recently, he also deployed a robot called Cobot in the industry, which worked with its employees to fill ice cream containers.

Designers are developing special nozzles, 3D prints for different flavors and different motifs like animals.

But keeping ice cream cold requires a lot of energy. Elsbeth Bongrad says she and her colleagues are working on a special moisture method.

Some firms have developed innovative methods.

For example, the American company Cold Snap has developed an 'ice cream pod' that cools ice cream while you eat it. The device saves the energy needed to store ice cream in the refrigerator.

But within Tetra Pak's lab, there is talk of smaller cones and smaller sized ice creams. Bongrad says the emphasis is on quality.

That's a global trend, says Mintel food and beverage analyst Kate Vlietstra, who says people are more attracted to flavor variety than to health and low-calorie options.

People of both new and old generations are customers of ice cream.

But according to Kate, interest in ice creams with original flavors such as cardamom or chilli is growing due to the interest of the new generation, called millennials.


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