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Rethinking health with dairy

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Rethinking health with dairy

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This has been a big year for IFF’s Dairy Enzymes group – tell us about the launch of Nurica and what it means for dairy producers?

Nurica is IFF’s new innovative lactase enzyme that enables dairy manufacturers to produce prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) fibers in situ from existing lactose in milk.  This results in significantly reduced sugar and lactose levels. Today’s consumers are focused on optimal fiber intake, reduced lactose, sugar reduction, and calorie reduction for numerous reasons, including digestive health, weight management, and overall improved health and wellness.   We’re really excited about Nurica’s ability to help dairy producers meet all of these customer health needs with a premium product. 

This seems like it’s answering a call from consumers looking for more fiber in their diets. What are some of the main dairy trends you’re seeing from consumers in North America, and how is your team working to help your customers address them?

Consumers are concerned about their overall health and wellbeing now more than ever, with the overwhelming majority of Americans making some kind effort to eat healthy. The dairy category is seen as a core part of consumers’ health and wellness efforts. Specific to the dairy segment, lactose-free products are still a fast-growing dairy segment in North America, and this is mainly tied to lactose intolerance being so prevalent today. Products with dietary fiber have increased lately due to the current dietary fiber intake falling short of the daily recommended amount for the majority of people in North America. Reduced sugar and lower calorie products are also still trending strong, and these are both key aspects of weight management and overall wellbeing. Overall, the pandemic has propelled us toward an even greater sense of wellbeing, and Nurica, along with IFF’s other recent product launches, helps to deliver products that address the consumers’ needs. 

What were the challenges in introducing more fiber in dairy products before Nurica?

Product quality during processing and over shelf life has historically been a challenge when introducing more fiber into dairy products.  For example, some added fiber ingredients will degrade during thermal treatment such as during the pasteurization step, and this can lead to a lower quality product.   With Nurica, the GOS fibers created are pH and heat stable, ensuring consistent product quality over the full shelf life of the product. Nurica will also reduce lactose, as opposed to other available galacto-oligosaccharides available on the market that increase lactose content. Nurica is unique with its superior functionality and opportunities it provides for multiple health claims.

What are the chief dairy products that Nurica will be able to improve?

Nurica gives North American dairy manufacturers the flexibility to differentiate by multiple health-based claims in fluid milk, ice cream, dairy-based beverages, and other neutral dairy applications. The consumer-friendly labeling of the enzyme and superior finished product quality allows for market differentiation in these products.  Additionally, the ease of implementation with standard equipment and enzyme inactivation conditions allows for simplicity during production.

How does the Nurica lactase work?

While hydrolyzing lactose molecules, the Nurica enzyme breaks down the lactose sugar into glucose and galactose. The enzyme then transfers the galactose molecule to another lactose and elongates this molecule to form GOS fibers. The sugar is reduced as the GOS is produced from the lactose. IFF’s Nurica enzyme offers higher GOS fiber levels compared to market alternatives.

What’s next on the horizon for your team?

IFF is always striving to deliver products that will be innovative and helpful to the customer, such as through providing benefits to the food manufacturing process and/or improving final food products that consumers can enjoy. Currently we’re working on new solutions that address label-friendly formulation needs, lower food processing costs, and enhancing the health, nutritional value, and overall product quality in both dairy and plant-based applications. We are enthusiastic to collaborate with our customers, and together we can unlock the potential of IFF’s broad portfolio to provide high quality and exciting new food and beverage products.