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Introduction of Alternative Materials for Dairy and Surimi Products

June 16, 2008

Food manufacturers are on a mission to find alternative materials as a
result of globally rising material costs. Even frozen food manufacturers have
been working on product development of substitute materials for butter, cheese,
as well as surimi.

Hoko, the largest professional grade cheese maker, released a new
cheese alternative product this spring at consumer price 20 percent cheaper than
a regular product. Other cheese manufacturers have subsequently followed this
move by creating cheese made out of plant-based materials.

This innovative trend is also true of surimi. Surimi was originally created
as a means of making the best use of excess fish material destined for discard.
Surimi materials have changed since then depending on the fish scarcity and/or
fluctuation in fish prices used for surimi. In recent years, high global demand on
white fish has jacking up its price and it has become considerably difficult to even
obtain surimi materials.

Not only fish paste products such as hanppen (minced and steamed fish)
and chikuwa (fish sausage) but also shao mai (raviolis a la vapeur in French) use
surimi. Today’s worsening situation of acquisition of raw materials has been a
devastating blow to food makers. This dire situation has made some
manufactures cry, “there is no bright future in this business” with some declaring
that they will shut down their businesses.

Understanding this devastation, U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has been
spreading the word about whey protein made from milk as an alternative. Whey
protein’s gel characteristic is similar to surimi and it can be easily manipulated by
adding sodium and other necessary substances.

USDEC learned from tasting survey that the public thought there was
almost no difference between 100% surimi products and surimi products with 40
percent of whey protein added.

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