Arla is looking to develop “age delaying” foods, after gaining knowledge from working with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In space astronauts suffer from an accelerated ageing process, explained Kajsa Ohison, project head Nordic innovation at Arla, at the seventh Annual World Food Technology and Innovation Forum in Rotterdam. Astronauts’ immunity and bones weaken in space and so Arla developed products to specifically help counter these effects.
Products included a freeze dried milk containing probiotics and milk bites - which are Malteser-like sweets - three of which contain the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk. “But the product that we are most proud of was our yoghurt,” continued Ohison.
The preservative free, light-weight, wet yoghurt was required to have a minimum self-life of two years at room temperature, which was achieved through packaging design and other ‘top secret’ methods. It also needed to be thicker than the average yoghurt so that it would stick to a spoon in zero gravity.
“This was a very expensive project, without high volumes,” admitted Ohison. “But the research we gained along the way was second to none, although it did take us four years to develop the yoghurt.”
Ohison said that from the knowledge that they had gained, Arla’s next project would be to develop age delaying dairy products: “We think that by adding calcium in combination with certain proteins, we can enter the market with a unique product. Our experience with NASA has really taught us to think outside the box.”
Arla is also considering marketing the NASA-type products for the extreme sports market, such as for Polar expeditions, mountain climbing and sailing.