Low fat, full taste

Most light mayonnaises don’t tend to deliver a taste or sensation anywhere near as good as the full fat variants.

Unilever set out to develop one that did and found the answer in an unusual place: citrus fibres.

A global issue

There are more than one billion overweight adults worldwide, of which at least 300 million are obese. By 2015, the World Health Organisation predicts that figure will reach 700 million. The consequences of obesity have been well documented through the higher rates of health problems such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and osteoarthritis. One of the main causes of obesity is increased consumption of high calorie food rich in saturated fats and sugars.

The need for oil

The foods industry has responded to this problem with light and extra light products. But producing these is not a simple task. Full fat mayonnaise typically contains around 75% oil as well as egg yolks, water, vinegar and spices. The oil is crucial to the mayonnaise’s structure, and helps give the product its creamy texture thanks to the densely packed network of oil droplets which are emulsified by egg yolk proteins.

With most light variants having just 15-25% oil content, there are insufficient droplets to provide a creamy texture so water has to take over this function. Typically, extra starches and gums are used to enable the emulsion to set, but do so at the expense of the texture. The challenge was to reduce the oil content whilst maintaining the desired structure and texture.

Citrus fibres

With a team that included scientists, technologists, process engineers, product developers, nutritionists and supply chain specialists from across the globe, we found the solution in the fibres of citrus fruit, such as lemons and limes. Citrus fibre works by ensuring that the fewer oil droplets in light mayonnaise remain evenly distributed throughout the structure.

Mayonnaise slowly changes in the mouth – almost as if it’s melting. With citrus fibre this behaviour comes closer to that of full fat mayonnaise. To find out more about how this innovation was discovered and developed, watch this video.

Key facts

Low fat mayonnaises containing citrus fibre technology were first launched in the US in 2008 and are now marketed in over 25 countries under the Hellmann’s, Calve and Amora brands. These countries include Russia, Ukraine, the UK, Netherlands, Spain, France and Poland.

Hellmann's mayonnaise can be used as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet. It is rich in Omega 3 ALA and trans fat free containing just half the calories and fat of real mayonnaise.

Light mayonnaise also has a very positive impact on sustainability. Reducing the fat content from 75% to 25% decreases the carbon footprint by roughly 40%.

Did you know?

Mayonnaise is said to be the invention of the French chef to the Duke de Richelieu. In 1756, while the Duke was defeating the British at Port Mahon, his chef was creating a victory feast that included a sauce made of cream and eggs. When the chef realised that there was no cream in the kitchen, he improvised, substituting olive oil for the cream. A new culinary masterpiece was born, and the chef named it ‘Mahonnaise’ in honour of the Duke's victory.

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