KEY INTERVIEW: Carbery Group Predicts Athletic Focus for Premium Dairy Proteins

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11 Jul 2016 --- Dairy continues to be the preferred source of protein for sports and clinical nutrition sectors. NutritionInsight spoke with Sarah O’Neill, Marketing Manager at Carbery Group, about developments in these areas, and which dairy proteins are on the rise for consumers.

“There are two main proteins from dairy sources: whey and casein,” O’Neill explains. “Within sports nutrition, whey protein remains the preferred choice both for athletes and protein newcomers. However, with sports nutrition moving mainstream, elite performers now seek differentiated products to deliver more specific physiological benefits.” 

“An area of really exciting growth is whey protein hydrolysates (WPH) for elite athletes.” 

So what is special about these new blends? “New evidence is emerging that proves the link between these ingredients and more perse bioactivities (derived from the peptide mixes) that are valuable in supporting athletic performance and delivering enhanced physiological benefits in combination with training.” 

“Thanks to their optimal amino acid composition, premium dairy protein blends (that contain a blend of isolates, concentrates and hydrolysates) are holding their own against the multi-source blends that have gained traction over recent years.”

“We predict that over the next number of years this will become a key focus for brands to differentiate in, and we are actively working in this space.”

New product formats 
Click to EnlargeDairy proteins have long been critical structural and functional ingredients in many food and beverage products. “Now it is about applying these scientific principles to new formats,” says O’Neill.

“Protein-based gels and shots are a niche area within sports nutrition that is showing promising growth.” 

“Categories within performance nutrition, such as pre- and intra-workout products are likely to become more segmented as athletes seek to target specific physiological benefits related to inpidual products.” 

Although casein based proteins are experiencing growth in the RTD (ready to drink) segment, largely driven by the growing demand for convenience and “nutrition on the go”, O’Neill believes WPH products may also be the ones to watch: “WPHs are well positioned for these new product formats and formulation challenges. They can provide superior softness in a protein bar and aid in maintaining shelf life without compromising on the quality protein source. In addition, a heat stable WPH can also be used in neutral pH RTD protein beverages, delivering product stability even over a twelve-month shelf life.”

New challenges
“With demand for protein growing throughout the food and beverage markets, suppliers like Carbery have worked hard to adapt the functionality of dairy protein to specific applications.” 

“Protein is emerging on shelves in previously unimaginable formats from coffee to beer to pancakes. From a functionality point of view, this creates new challenges for ingredient manufacturers to overcome, such as achieving heat stability over various pH ranges and optimizing solubility, emulsification and viscosity.”

“Key to the success of products like these is adopting the right delivery vehicle and taste profile, and clearly communicating their benefits, backed by credible science, to their target audiences.”

Being a global leader in food ingredients, Carbery is well aware that good taste is also important in development of these emerging applications: “Our specialist knowledge in flavor chemistry through Synergy Flavors, combined with our protein expertise, ensures that we are equipped to develop industry leading flavors for protein applications.”

Future opportunities
So what opportunities are available to target new consumers with these great tasting novel protein formats?: ”Hard-core protein users, or elite athletes, are looking for additional health benefits that will allow them to recover faster, improve their immunity and enhance their digestive health.”
 
“Innovation is being driven by the need to differentiate in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Alternative protein sources, ‘night time’ (slow release) proteins, RTD recovery protein formulations and the increased use of botanicals with added health benefits are key trends that we have seen.”

“Within the clinical nutrition and active aging sectors, consumers are gradually gaining an understanding of how protein can help maintain muscle mass as they age. As people want to stay strong and independent for longer, this presents a huge opportunity, and we are increasingly seeing the coupling of joint/mobility and muscle claims on products.” 

“As consumers are increasingly aware of their health and nutrition requirements, they are reaching for healthier snacks and beverages; Carbery Group can support manufacturers to develop new products for today’s consumer who demands only the very best of taste and nutrition – without compromise.”

by Kerina Tull

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