Although soy ice has been available for some time, Finn Hjort Christensen, group manager, ice cream told FoodNavigator.com that there are two main factors that are driving it into mainstream supermarkets. One is consumer interested in healthy ingredients - and soy has been linked to such health benefits as lowering LDL 'bad' cholesterol; the other is that high dairy prices as encouraging manufacturers to see alternatives to traditional dairy ice-cream, which do not costs so much to make and therefore deliver better margins. "Soy protein is a more economical source," said Christensen. While soy isolate cost €5.50 to €6.50 per kg protein in November 2007, skimmed milk powder cost between €8 and €9 per kg protein. Based on these rates - which can, of course, fluctuate depending on a variety of factors - manufacturers could save 15 to 20 per cent of their protein costs by taking the soy route. To help manufacturers interested in going down this route, Danisco has come up with a concept for a vanilla soy ice. This, said Christensen, was an exercise to find good solutions on flavours, soy protein isolates and stabiliser systems. He explained that one of the major challenges in developing such products is making them taste of soy as little as possible for European consumer preferences (Asian consumers, on the other hand, are more accepting of the soy flavour). Danisco worked with Firmenich to develop a way to mask the soy flavour. The two companies forged a partnership following the latter's acquisition of Danisco's flavour business earlier this year. Christensen said that this project was part of that new partnership. Another major challenge is in the texture, which tends to be more watery with soy ice than in traditional ice-cream. To counter this, Danisco used its Cremodan 1101 LF IcePro, which is part of its range of emulsifiers and stabilisers for ice-cream. In addition to making for a suitable mouthfeel, this helps keep smoothness in throughout storage and distribution, too. Danisco also worked on the concept in cooperation with a soy protein/isolate manufacturer. The company is offering this basic concept to manufacturers, but can tailor make the package to suit specific needs. Several companies have already started targeting this sector. In 2007, for instance, Unilever launched soy ice products under its Carte D'Or brand in France; Ingman Glass launched Tofuline ice in Finland; Whole Foods Market in the US launched a soy ice under its 365 Everday value brand; Rollands launched a Sojasun product in France; and Spar made a product in Austria. In terms of how successful soy ices could be on the market, Christensen said it is difficult to say. But he added: "In other food categories like soy drinks, we see high percentage growth. We could speculate that this will also grow in the future." Prosoy, a research and strategy consultancy, valued the European market from meat-free and tofu products at €1.2bn in 2006, a five per cent increase on the previous year.