In recent years, coconut milk beverages derived from coconut cream have increasingly gained traction in the beverages market. Today, eight of the top 10 coconut producing countries are in Asia-Pacific, where coconut water and cream consumption are ingrained in daily habits.
Tetra Pak has been instrumental in advancing processing and packaging technology for long-life coconut beverages – both water and cream-based. These beverages typically contain anywhere between 2-4% fat and their nutty, mild sweet taste, creamy mouthfeel and appealing white colour make them an attractive alternative to other plant-based beverages. Increasingly perceived as a suitable dietary substitute for lactose intolerant consumers, leading brands are already diversifying their beverage offerings to include coconut milk.
Producing a high-quality, long-life coconut milk beverage requires careful understanding of key challenges involved in its manufacture. Coconut milk is a very rich medium that supports the growth of common spoilage microorganisms, usually introduced via contaminated shells, utensils, processing equipment and handlers. As a result, coconut milk is a sensitive ingredient that can undergo rapid chemical and microbiological deterioration if not handled and processed properly.
Chemical deterioration is triggered by action of enzymes that are inherently present in coconut milk and water. This enzyme action can cause discoloration in coconut milk, changing its consumer-preferred milky-white colour to an undesirable greyish colour. In order to prevent these spoilages, it is imperative that the coconut milk is handled carefully – from the raw material unloading stage – through to the processing and packaging of the product. To facilitate this, it is critically important to have the correct process design.
Tetra Pak has extensive experience in designing lines for coconut beverages processing – starting from mixing and blending, to UHT systems, aseptic storage and aseptic fillers. We have delivered 100+ solutions for downstream processing of plant-based beverages – this gives us the expertise to design a solution ideally suited to your specific requirements, while ensuring the best-in-class product quality and a lowest total cost of ownership.
Mixing is a critical operation for number of reasons. Firstly, the majority of plant-based beverages are clean label products, where mixing can play a very significant role in helping disperse different phases together before the product is treated further. Secondly, through effective mixing and by option to apply vacuum air incorporation to process can be reduced which is critical to further improve the product quality.
Coconut milk is a fat rich phase and when converting it into a beverage, it needs to be mixed with water to lower the fat content of the resulting beverage. To do so, you need to emulsify oil in water to create an oil-in-water emulsion, to disperse fat in the water matrix. Ingredients, such as emulsifiers and gums can help with this emulsion formation. To achieve this emulsion, use of a good-quality mixing system is essential – regardless of ingredients used and the formulation. The Tetra Pak® High Shear Mixer can provide a crude homogenisation effect during the mixing of oil and water phase under high shear. Use of the vacuum option will allow you to minimise air incorporation and exposure to oxygen during the mixing process.
The emulsion that is created during mixing needs to be further stabilised during subsequent downstream process. Selection of an appropriate type of homogeniser and applying the right homogeniser conditions is essential for that. Tetra Pak’s range of Homogenisers enables you to achieve the right product quality, while increasing cost efficiencies and reducing environmental impacts.
The choice of ultra-high-temperature (UHT) solution is essential to not only ensure impeccable food safety, but also to maintain the ideal product quality. These product considerations need to be balanced with the operational requirements of long plant running times to minimize total operational costs. Tetra Pak’s UHT solutions are specifically designed to meet the challenges and requirements of coconut milk beverages and can provide best-in-class product safety and quality, with long running hours.
Application: Tetra Pak® UHT Solutions are processing unit for highly efficient, continuous ultra-high temperature treatment of plant based beverages. The UHT solutions are available in number of different process configurations – e.g. Indirect (Plate or Tubular Heat exchanger) or Direct UHT.
Whether it is a direct or indirect UHT unit, the common elements are: an aseptic design, a heat exchanger to heat the product to desired temperature and holding for a specific period of time. The end result is a product that can be stored at ambient temperatures. Tetra Pak® UHT solutions are suitable for plant based beverages such as soy, oat, nuts and other dairy alternative milk, plant based cream, plant based yoghurt drinks and formulated plant based beverage products. Combinations with other non-dairy applications such as juice, tea and coffee are also possible.
Tetra Pak® UHT Solutions are available as a stand-alone unit or as part of a complete line solution.
Capacity: 1 000 - 40 000 litres/hour