Globally, nut-based beverages represent one of the largest sub-segments within the plant-based beverages category.
North America has dominated the market for nut-based beverages, where almond milk alone accounts for a market size of close to US$2 Billion. Within Asia Pacific, nut-based beverages are gaining prominence with almond milk products leading the trend, but we now see this expanding to other nut products such as cashews, hazelnuts and macadamia.
In general, nut-based beverages are particularly liked for their nutty, rich, and creamy taste characteristics, in addition to their relatively lower carbohydrate levels. The presence of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) in the beverages – in combination with vitamins (e.g. vitamin E) – also adds a health halo to the beverages.
Depending on the variety of nuts, either whole or blanched (deskinned), nuts can be used for beverage manufacturing. In this case, a series of wet grinding and homogenisation steps will be involved to convert nuts into a slurry, which can then be mixed with other ingredients to formulate the final beverage.
Whole nuts are more difficult to handle compared to blanched nuts as the skin on the nuts is quite tough and elastic, making them difficult to break down into a smaller size. Because of this, beverages made from whole nuts can have a darker, speckled appearance, while those made from blanched nuts could be whiter and brighter in colour, while also being more uniform in appearance.
Nuts are expensive ingredients and are used in a relatively small percentage of final beverage products, however, nut paste can offer a quicker path to commercialisation. As nuts are rich in fats (generally >45% fats), size reduction of the nuts can result in a paste-like consistency. The paste can then be mixed with water (reconstitution) and other ingredients to formulate the final beverage. The sensory quality of the nut beverage will be largely influenced by the quality of the nut paste utilised.
The design of a nut beverage will depend on the choice of starting raw material during processing. When whole/blanched nuts are used as the starting raw material, a grinding setup will be needed to convert nuts into slurry. An additional homogenisation step can provide further benefits to the finished product. If the starting material is a nut paste, the process can begin from the reconstitution step with the use of a high shear mixer.
Tetra Pak has extensive experience in designing nut beverage processing lines – starting from mixing and blending to UHT systems to aseptic storage and then into aseptic fillers. We have delivered 100+ solutions for downstream processing of plant-based beverages and this gives us the expertise to design a solution most ideally suited to your specific requirement. Our experts will work with your team to co-create a manufacturing solution that meets your exact needs, while ensuring the best-in-class product quality and lowest total cost of ownership.
We believe that your optimal solution is one that matches your specific production needs today and for the future – to make you more innovative, more effective and more competitive. And we believe that this optimal solution is born by applying our vast knowledge and complete range of innovative technology for food production in a close partnership with you.
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.
Whether whole or blanched nuts are used as the starting material, the key challenge on hand is to disperse the nut paste or slurry into a water medium for converting it into a beverage. As fat is a major component of the nut paste/slurry, a good emulsion is required to help disperse the fat from the nut paste into the water phase. Ingredients such as emulsifiers and hydrocolloids can aid the process; a good high shear mixer plays an equally important part. The Tetra Pak High Shear Mixer can provide a crude homogenisation effect during the mixing of oil and water phase under high shear. At the same time, fats in the nuts are sensitive to contact with air – incorporation of air can oxidize the fats faster and influence the product’s taste and shelf-life ability. 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 the subsequent downstream process. Selection of an appropriate type of homogeniser and applying the right homogeniser conditions is essential for stabilising the emulsion. Tetra Pak’s range of Homogenisers enable you to achieve the right product quality, while increasing the cost efficiency and reducing environmental impact.
Pioneering design for lower pressure and energy savings with smart automation
Tetra Pak® Homogenizers reduce particle size and improve product quality. Available in non-aseptic and aseptic versions with a wide range of capacities and pressures, and for products with different viscosities.
Selection of the right ultra-high-temperature (UHT) process is critical to the final quality of long-life nut beverages. Key factors when choosing a UHT process include the ability to achieve the best product sensory quality (minimising cooked note and maintaining the delicate, nutty, creamy flavour of nuts), while achieving good running times on the plant to optimise running costs. Tetra Pak UHT solutions are specifically designed to meet the challenges and requirements of nut 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