Friday, July 7, 2017

Protein Beverages: Dairy leads the jostling herd of competitors. Think beverages for different dayparts.

Photo source: USDEC

Many editors attended IFT two weeks ago in Las Vegas. We returned to our computers with slightly different views of highlights from the annual exposition, and now that our July 4th celebrations are over, are writing about them. (Hope you had a lovely and restful holiday!)

The consensus appears to be that clean-label formulating is a trend with longevity. Unlike in past years when exhibiting suppliers emphasized managing specific nutrients or eliminating individual additives, this year at IFT, that managing and eliminating melded into the bigger agenda of clean-label formulating.

After clean label, editors have different takes on the expo. In my eyes, protein was a leading theme, with animal protein—from cows, eggs and even chickens—in the spotlight. Yes, plant proteins had a very, very strong presence, but when it comes to beverage applications, animal proteins stole the show.

Dairy proteins, followed by fiber, will continue to be key drivers of innovation, specifically in the beverage sector, as convenience grab-and-go lifestyle are only speeding up. It’s time to add protein beverages to your product line up.

According to Euromonitor, the protein beverage market grew by 5.6% from 2015 to 2016 and is expected to grow by 6.1% from 2017 to 2020. The growth is attributed to protein beverages targeted to sports nutrition, adult nutrition and meal replacement.

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“The trends show that new introductions are focused on less sugar, clean label, higher protein levels, personalized nutrition, flavor innovation, weight management and more plant-based products,” says K.J. Burrington, dairy ingredient applications program coordinator for the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. “Protein beverages using a dairy source of protein are the most predominant. Dairy proteins continue to outperform plant proteins on flavor and functionality but that doesn’t mean that dairy proteins are without their own challenges.”

At IFT, attendees learned that protein beverages can be much more than sports nutrition and meal replacement solutions. This was apparent at the U.S. Dairy Export Council exhibit, where USDEC’s team, which includes Ms. Burrington, sampled a Milk & Honey Bedtime Beverage.

The concept addressed consumers’ desire to relax after a long, busy day.

“People are drawn to beverages that reduce stress and promote better sleep,” explained Shannon Koski, account manager with USDEC. “The proteins derived from U.S. milk provide unmatched nutrition, which may help consumers wake-up refreshed and energized.”

The milk and honey bedtime beverage prototype contains 20 grams of protein and provides half of the U.S. daily value for calcium. The chai and honey-infused beverage is made with reduced-fat milk, milk protein isolate (MPI) and micellar casein concentrate (MCC). This creamy and nutritious drink can be served warm or cold for a delicious way to wind down after a busy day or intense workout. The taste and nutrition of dairy makes it the complete package for a product that promotes rejuvenation.

Ms. Koski explained that there are two main trends creating the need for beverages made for nighttime consumption.

“The desire to reduce everyday stress, mentally and physically, is influencing more evening-focused innovations formulated for relaxation,” she said. “Creating a product to meet these needs starts with finding a high-quality protein source. The consumption of slow digesting protein stimulates the rebuilding of muscle tissue while at rest and keep consumers’ metabolisms working for extended hours at a time, including while they sleep. Pairing U.S. dairy proteins with spices can achieve a sense of calm and relaxation before bedtime.”


Photo source: USDEC

The other trend is the at-home café experience, which extends beyond the evening relaxation daypart. This presents an opportunity for café-style dairy protein beverage innovation. After all, consumers rely on café style drinks to get them through the day. Why not make this experience available when the café is closed for the night?

Globally, 53% of consumers believe hot drinks can offer health benefits, unlocking new opportunities for hot drinks that claim to improve health and general well-being. Additionally, 71% of consumers consider re-creating café-style hot drinks achievable or very achievable, increasing the popularity of premium hot drinks for at-home consumption.


“Unlike most protein sources, high-quality dairy proteins such as reduced-fat milk, MPI and MCC contain the essential and nonessential amino acids, releasing them slowly to meet the body’s needs until breakfast,” said Susan Larson, associate researcher, Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a member of the USDEC team. “Among many things, MPI provides a clean dairy flavor without adding significant levels of lactose, while MCC is an excellent fit for shelf-stable, protein-fortified beverages because of its heat stability. In this beverage, all nutrients and viscosity come from these ingredients so no separate vitamins, minerals or stabilizers are needed.”

Ms. Burrington is an authority on dairy protein beverage formulating. She explained in a recent article published for the American Dairy Products Institute that it is important to understand some basic tips for working with dairy proteins to optimize their performance in a ready-to-drink beverage.
“The first tip is to understand the differences in functionality between whey protein ingredients and milk proteins,” she explained. “The pH of the drink is one of the main determining factors in your choice of protein.”

To read an article I recently wrote on protein beverage formulating for Food Business News, link HERE.

Functional considerations include protein hydration, solubility, stability, and of course, flavor. The latter is where dairy shines in the protein ingredient toolbox. If you are interested in learning more, you can attend the Dairy Protein Beverages Short Course at the Center for Dairy Research on October 19. For more information, link HERE.

Remember, the dairy industry must stay strong and showcase its inherent powers in the crowded protein beverage marketplace. Get creative. Milk can be so much more than simply milk.

Global beverage market analysis indicates that milk is diversifying. The market for mixed milk drinks is growing rapidly, especially outside Europe, according to the organizers of drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 11 to 15, 2017. Mixed milk drinks and dairy protein beverages will be a dominant theme at the exposition. More than half of all exhibitors at drinktec 2017 announced during the run-up to the trade fair that they would present solutions for the milk industry.

The last drinktec was held in 2013 and was attended by more than 12,000 visitors from the areas of milk and liquid milk products. This represented an increase of 58% compared with the previous event. During drinktec 2017, exhibitors will present the entire range of treatment of milk, whey and liquid food. This will extend from cooling and storage by means of thermal preservation, and separators and equipment for skimming, standardization and homogenization through to complete systems for milk and liquid milk products. The soft drinks segment will also be providing milk producers with new possibilities, as carbonized drinks containing milk and fruit juice, coffee or tea are gaining traction in Europe and elsewhere.

The drinktec expo is my next trip. Hope to see you there!
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