Whichever way you say it, when it comes to cheese, it seems the cheesier the better.
South Africans consume nearly 7 500 tons of these dairy products annually, and demand is still growing although it’s not as robust as in previous years.

By Erika van der Steege

Top of the list is cheddar and gouda, says Natalie da Silva, Clover’s brand manager for cheese. In terms of value, processed cheese is the second biggest earner after natural cheese, followed by soft cheese, specialty cheese and feta.
Cheese powder is an economical and flexible option to add flavour to almost any product – from biscuits to savoury snacks, sauces, soups, dips and dressings. It is an easy solution to standardise cheese flavours in a variety of applications. Instead of adding expensive, aged cheese, cheese powder can also be used to enhance seasoning blends, processed cheese, confectionery, creams, desserts, fillings and ready meals.
The actual percentage of cheese powder in these products varies from product to product. It can be as little as 2% in cheese biscuits for example, or as high as 30% or more in cream cheese – depending on the cheese powder that is used and the flavour that product developers are trying to create.
Sambashni Govender, sales and marketing manager at Danlink Ingredients, says cheese powder provides a unique combination of taste, functionality and practicality, making it the obvious choice in virtually any food system.
“Cheese powder can be tailored to suit local taste preferences. Each country has it own taste profile – even when it comes to popular cheeses like gouda and cheddar.
Govender says while local demand is slowly growing for stronger, more mature cheeses and Italian staples like mozzarella and parmesan, the overwhelming preference is still for old favourites like cheddar and gouda.
There does not seem to be a universal standard for cheese powder, but to be called cheese powder it must contain cheese, says Govender.
Top of the range is powder made entirely from selected cheeses that have been aged to a specific chemical composition to match desired specifications. At the other end of the scale is cheese blends – made from different cheeses without a single type being dominant. The amount of real cheese in these blends can vary. Some powders have very little or no real cheese at all. These may be blended with emulsifying salt, flavourings, dairy ingredients like whey powder, vegetable fat, food colouring and maltodextrin. Blends are suited for snack seasoning, sauces and fillings.
Govender says cheese powder allows product developers to manage flavours. “Not only does it provide products with a rich and natural flavour profile, but it also provides great mouthfeel thanks to the natural fat in cheese. You can also use cheese powder as a flavour enhancer to give more body to your food application, but without necessarily donating any cheese flavour.”
She says it is not difficult to create cheese flavours using cheese powder to suit an application. “If it is a strong cheese flavour that you are after, you’d use either a 100% cheese powder or a combination of cheese powder and cheese flavours. Alternatively, yeast extract, flavour enhancers or flavours can be included to create the desired taste.”
Danlink Ingredients is a supplier of cheese powder to a variety of South African food and flavour manufacturers, and has represented Danish company, Lactosan, locally since 1997. Their range includes Pure Cheese Powders, Natural Culinary Boosters based on pure mature cheeses and Cheese Base Powders which are blends of cheese and other dairy ingredients. According to Lactosan’s website (www.lactosan.com) cheese powder can be created with the exact functionality and chemical profile that product developers require:

• Baked products – In savory biscuit and bakery applications, cheese powder helps
manufacturers manage both the rheology and flavour profile of their end products. The protein
and fat naturally inherent in cheese powder are essential to achieving the right structure and
baking properties of the biscuit dough.
• Confectionery – Here cheese powders are typically applied to accentuate a specific cheese
note or as a supplementary “body” to help round off or enhance complementary flavour
components in a given recipe.
• Creams and desserts – When it comes to creams and desserts, cheese powders can be
applied to provide both flavour as well as functional characteristics. The protein naturally
inherent in the cheese powder provides emulsifying properties, which are essential to the
consistency and stability of a cream and of a dessert.
• Flavour and seasoning blends – In this case cheese powders are used to provide “body” to
complementary flavour components, and to help manage the overall flavour intensity and
release. It can also reduce the need for artificial flavour enhancers such as yeast extract or
MSG. The natural, free amino acids found in well-matured cheese provide a rich, long lasting
flavour boosting in a wide range of food applications. Moreover, the content of natural cheese
protein provides functional properties such as emulsification and stability.
• Ready meals – Cheese powder can be applied in ready meal preparations where a specific
cheese note or general flavour enhancement is required, such as gorgonzola, parmesan and
cream cheese. Using cheese powder has several benefits. It gives a uniform, standardised
quality and provides a wide selection of taste directions and applications where it is not
possible to use fresh cheese. Cheese powder can be used to flavour and stabilise the taste of
cheese, or mask unwanted off flavours. Because taste is controlled, it provides a stable price
level. It also saves on energy costs as no refrigeration is necessary. Cheese powder has a
long shelf life of almost two years and only needs to be stored in a cool dry place. Replacing
synthetic flavour enhancers with cheese powders makes it a label friendly alternative –
especially when it is not possible to use natural cheese.

Sunspray Food Ingredients (Pty) Ltd, South Africa’s largest independent manufacturer of spray-dried ingredients, serves the retail sector with its own brand of cheese powder.
Sunspray Cheese Powders are used mainly in the manufacture of snacks and biscuits, including extruded snacks, as well as sauces, bakery ingredients, pre-cooked meals and canned foods such as spaghetti bolognaise. According to its website (www.sunspray.co.za) each powder introduces a particular cheese flavour to the products in which they are used. These are based on real cheese and enhanced with various flavour ingredients and top notes.
Each powder is completely spray-dried and homogenous in terms of colour and flavour. All cheese powders are concentrated and are based on cheddar, gouda and EMC blue cheese.

Sunspray Food Ingredients (Pty) Ltd, South Africa’s largest independent manufacturer of spray-dried ingredients, serves the retail sector with its own brand of cheese powder. Sunspray Cheese Powders are used mainly in the manufacture of snacks and biscuits, including extruded snacks, as well as sauces, bakery ingredients, pre-cooked meals and canned foods such as spaghetti bolognaise. According to its website (www.sunspray.co.za) each powder introduces a particular cheese flavour to the products in which they are used. These are based on real cheese and enhanced with various flavour ingredients and top notes.
Each powder is completely spray-dried and homogenous in terms of colour and flavour. All cheese powders are concentrated and are based on cheddar, gouda and EMC blue cheese.