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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2019 Dec;103(23-24):9263-9275. doi: 10.1007/s00253-019-10175-9. Epub 2019 Nov 4.

Fermentation of plant-based milk alternatives for improved flavour and nutritional value.

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Institute of Systems Biotechnology, Saarland University, Campus A1.5, 66123, Saarbrücken, Germany.
Institute of Material Sciences, Department of Biology, Nestlé Research, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Institute of Systems Biotechnology, Saarland University, Campus A1.5, 66123, Saarbrücken, Germany.


Non-dairy milk alternatives (or milk analogues) are water extracts of plants and have become increasingly popular for human nutrition. Over the years, the global market for these products has become a multi-billion dollar business and will reach a value of approximately 26 billion USD within the next 5 years. Moreover, many consumers demand plant-based milk alternatives for sustainability, health-related, lifestyle and dietary reasons, resulting in an abundance of products based on nuts, seeds or beans. Unfortunately, plant-based milk alternatives are often nutritionally unbalanced, and their flavour profiles limit their acceptance. With the goal of producing more valuable and tasty products, fermentation can help to the improve sensory profiles, nutritional properties, texture and microbial safety of plant-based milk alternatives so that the amendment with additional ingredients, often perceived as artificial, can be avoided. To date, plant-based milk fermentation mainly uses mono-cultures of microbes, such as lactic acid bacteria, bacilli and yeasts, for this purpose. More recently, new concepts have proposed mixed-culture fermentations with two or more microbial species. These approaches promise synergistic effects to enhance the fermentation process and improve the quality of the final products. Here, we review the plant-based milk market, including nutritional, sensory and manufacturing aspects. In addition, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art fermentation of plant materials using mono- and mixed-cultures. Due to the rapid progress in this field, we can expect well-balanced and naturally fermented plant-based milk alternatives in the coming years.


Anti-nutrients; L-lysine; Lactic acid bacteria; Milk alternative; Mixed-culture; Nutrition; Plant processing; Plant-based; Soymilk; Synergistic; Systems biology; Vitamin

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