The patent-pending frozen desert technology forms part of the firm's Gelstar cellulose gel family of products, designed to enable butterfat or milk solid replacement while achieving the body and mouthfeel normally associated with higher fat products.
According to the Philadelphia-based firm, its new ice cream technology allows the fat content in ice cream to be reduced to 5 percent, compared to the regular 10 percent level. In some applications, it can be reduced down to 2-3 percent.
The new Gelstar ingredient can also be used to replace certain gums and emulsifiers, which allows manufacturers to "tidy up" their ingredient label and avoid "unfriendly ingredient declarations," said FMC Biopolymer.
The fat reduction technology, which does not require new processing equipment, claims to be an "optimized solution" of Gelstar's characteristic Microcrystalline Cellulose-based blends.
"FMC has conducted over 200 individual Ice Cream Challenge taste tests that compared a 10 percent fat ice cream to ice cream with less than 5 percent fat and using Gelstar technology," said the firm's dairy group leader Chip Venables.
"These blind ice cream challenges, conducted with independent panels and with ice cream producers, have produced an overwhelming response in favor of the ice cream produced with Gelstar technology. Greater than 80 percent of participants identified the low fat ice cream with the Gelstar technology as the full fat product," he added.
Low fat ice cream production received its first significant boost in 2004, when US food manufacturer Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Holdings developed a 'slow churned' method of making ice cream.
Dreyer's Grand Light and Edy's Grand Light products were essentially the first light ice creams using the technology to eat like full fat products. The technology works by using the same ingredients, but slow churning the ice cream kneads the fat molecules at a colder temperature, stretching and distributing them widely so that the ice cream tastes like it contains more butterfat.
FMC is due to present its new Gelstar technology at the IFT trade show in Orlando later this month.