Consumers have been enthusiastically trying out new ingredients in food preparation during the past few years. The popularity of meat substitute products in particular has grown. Valio MiFU®—a Finnish food innovation made from milk—can be used in recipes that call for meat or chicken. On Wednesday, June 20, Valio MiFU® strips won the World Dairy Innovation Awards competition in the Best New Brand/Business category.
Two years ago Valio introduced a new protein source for food preparation in home kitchens: Valio MiFU® products made from Finnish milk. The strips became available on store shelves last autumn. The jury appreciated Valio’s creativity in using dairy as a meat alternative as well as the innovativeness and interesting manufacturing process of Valio MiFU products.
“Quite a lot is demanded from even a simple home-cooked dish: it should be healthy, quick to prepare, and tasty to the whole family. People get tired of making the same meals and are looking for variety. We had these issues in mind when we set out to develop Mifu. Valio MiFU® products inspire people to try something new,” says Business Manager Pia Järvinen.
The strips have been available in stores in Sweden since the beginning of the year. Valio will showcase the products in September at SIAL Paris, a big international food exhibition.
“The food expertise in Finland is truly outstanding. Valio MiFU® is a great example of how milk can be turned into many forms and uses. Valio’s product development legacy goes back more than a century. Not many people know that Nobel Laureate A.I. Virtanen headed Valio’s laboratory for close to 50 years,” Järvinen gives a backdrop to the award.
The World Dairy Innovation Awards have now been held for the 12th time. The respected international food-sector competition is organized by FoodBev Media, and this year a total of 150 entries around the world participated in it. The awards were given out in Warsaw.
The story of Valio MiFU® products started when Valio’s internal innovation team was assigned the task of coming up with a new way to use the casein protein found in milk. The starting point for product development was to find alternative protein sources to meat. Many challenges had to be overcome before the successful end result.
“One of the most important tasks of product development was developing a texture that could be pan-fried. Creating a good texture and mouthfeel, however, wasn’t enough: the product also had to remain the same when heated and be easy to use in food preparation,” recalls Researcher Niko Nurmi from Valio.
Shelf-life and a product that would make everyday cooking nutritional and tasty for the whole family was also a focus.
“The nutritional values we aimed for were a high protein and a low fat content—without compromising good taste,” Nurmi continues.
Developing a new product requires much more than just a product development desk and a laboratory.
Valio MiFU® strips are made at Valio’s Vantaa plant.
“Perfecting the product took time and was the collaborative effort of product developers, researchers and production professionals. It’s always an especially exciting moment when the product moves from your own desk to a bigger scale. And naturally we always test the products with consumers. They provide the most important feedback,” Nurmi concludes.
What are Valio MiFU® strips?
Mifu can be used in recipes that call for meat or chicken; it doesn’t require pre-preparation or pre-cooking. Mifu is best when used in hot meals as is or after browning in a frying pan. Mifu maintains its texture and mouthfeel well when heated. Valio MiFU® strips are also rich in protein (24 g per 100 g). The products are free of lactose, gluten, eggs and yeast, so they are suitable for many special diets. Valio MiFU® products are made from milk and milk protein, so they are not suitable for a vegan diet.