The cultures are intended for soy yoghurt and other non dairy products, the Danish company said. Chr Hansen's 'free-from' range also includes probiotics. Europe has seen a double digit growth in annual sales of soy-based dairy alternatives in the past couple of years. "Obviously dairy free ingredients are very suitable for markets with a high prevalence of lactose-intolerance and for people with milk allergy," said Ingrid Klinth Holm, marketing manager. "Furthermore as part of the general health trend we see a widespread interest for soy-based products and we wish to support our customers working to cover this growing niche market. With the current milk shortage situation and prices soaring accordingly soy is an alternative worth exploring." Free from cholesterol and lactose soy-based foodstuffs also have health benefits, the firm added. According to Euromonitor soy yoghurt represented 12 per cent of the €1.9bn global market for soy-based dairy alternatives in 2005 with growth rates of 17 per cent annually. The dairy free cultures come in the easy-to-use DVS (Direct Vat Set) packaging form that was invented by Chr Hansen. DVS is a highly concentrated and standardised frozen or freeze-dried dairy culture used for the direct inoculation of milk. DVS cultures need no activation or other treatment prior to use and offer a number of advantages in terms of flexibility of use, consistent performance, no investment in bulk starter equipment, and possibility of using customized culture blends.