Protein with a fizz: Milk Specialties Global on its latest clean label solutions

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10 Apr 2018 --- Targeting mindful consumers in a range of demographics, Milk Specialties Global has introduced a number of clean-label solutions “set to revolutionize the protein category.” NutritionInsight spoke with Milk Specialties Global Vice President of Sales Michael Hiron and Suvash Kafley, Senior Director of Innovation, on two new launches, which the company presented at Expo West in March, as well as the consumer trends currently pushing further innovation and R&D.

Whereas consumers once looked at the amount of protein without paying much attention to the source, better nutritional education has prompted consumers to choose products made with more complete proteins which provide all the key nutrients.

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Suvash Kafley, Senior Director of Innovation
Milk Specialties Global

“We are very excited that dairy protein fortification is strongly going mainstream and finding its way into more everyday foods,” comments Hiron. “Clean label and non-GMO are prominent trends, but on top of these, the trend that we see growing is convenience. Foods that fit into this – bars, drinks, and snacks like popcorns and puddings and ice creams – are the main drivers now. Companies are trying to target more towards the female demographic, but will also start making ones [convenient foods] more accessible to other demographics as well.” 

Protein with a fizz 
To meet these consumer demands, Milk Specialties Global worked closely with NEXT Proteins, Inc., who recently launched the world’s first sparkling protein water, fizzique, made with PRObev heat-stable whey protein isolate. Attendees at Expo West were able to sample this high-protein beverage in the flavors Tropical Limon and Strawberry Watermelon, with both formulas containing 20g of whey protein isolate. Sweetened with sucralose, they contain 80 calories per can and zero carbs. 

“Fizzique is an excellent example of where our industry is headed. We’re expecting to see more game-changing products like this in the future,” says Hiron. 

“Protein by itself foams quite significantly, whey especially,” Kafley says about the R&D involved in the product. “So, we created a liquid version of this protein ingredient. The challenges were making sure the protein stays clear in solution after going through heat treatment, and that it doesn’t have an effect of dryness in the mouth, commonly found in high protein products without fat.”

Kafley explains that creating a product that would stay stable for several months took approximately two years. Although many clear beverages fortified with protein on the market utilize powder ingredients, PRObev is also available in liquid-form, allowing developers to get around certain processing complications.

“We are seeing more people looking for clean label, good-for-you products, organic and easy to understand labels. Using PRObev also helps eliminate the need for stabilizers. A lot of protein products on the market will list 17-42 different ingredients, but if you look at developing a beverage incorporating PRObev, it can be less than five ingredients, including flavor and water. The trend is going there – new ways of conceiving healthier nutrition, with good amounts of protein, but fewer carbs,” Kafley says. “Another big trend is the rise in carbonated waters, so there are brands, such as LaCroix, which are doing very well by targeting the female and health conscious sectors. 

Carbonated waters are growing every year, and there has been research linking carbonated beverages to satiety as they help make you feel fuller for longer,” says Hiron.

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Michael Hiron, Vice President of Sales
Milk Specialties Global

Innova Market Insights has reported that flavored or fortified waters are rising as a share of soft drink launches due to their light fresh and healthy image. Beyond fortification, like vitamin waters, the category is expanding to include plant-based waters, and now protein enriched waters, that consumers believe may have health benefits beyond simple hydration. 

Clean snacking as NPD driver
As traditional meal times and occasions become less prevalent and people seek quick, convenient, yet healthy solutions for busy lifestyles, we are seeing snacks that are not only healthier but are also more wholesome, satisfying, sustaining, and nutritious. This is creating opportunities for snacks to increasingly fulfill the role of mini meals and play a more meaningful role in contributing to nutritional needs across the day, as well as satisfy the mindful consumer with a clean label status. 

These increased demands for nutritious, clean label, yet tasty and filling snacking options are creating significant options for ingredient innovation. 

In this space, Milk Specialties Global has launched its BARsoft ingredient – a highly functional protein designed to provide a soft texture, optimal sensory experience and extended shelf life in high protein bars. With its proprietary protein blend, BARsoft is touted as reducing moisture migration in the ingredients resulting in significantly reduced browning and hardening over the shelf life of the bar.

Speaking on the mouthfeel and texture of protein bars and cookies, Kafley notes, “If it’s soft today, it should be soft in 3, 6, 9 or 12 months too.”
 
“Protein bars will turn hard and brown over time; it is, however, possible to delay this from happening. BARsoft utilizes physical barriers as well as chemistry (chemical barriers) to delay the time it takes for hardening and browning in bars therefore increasing the shelf-life of the bar. BARsoft uses a complex matrix of casein and whey, processed to create these physical and chemical barriers so they don’t interact easily, allowing for protein bars to remain softer for longer.”

Both BARsoft and PRObev are already being used in a few products on the market in the US. Moreover, the company is at the moment trialing the ingredients with some leading sports brands in Europe.

“We have a few customers in Europe using BARsoft in their bar applications and a few customers going through the development process at the moment. And quite a few pointing us to their development teams,” Hiron explains.

Innovation pipeline
Milk Specialties Global has representation across the globe, and is shipping PRObev and BARsoft to some parts of Asia already, with trials ongoing for both products in South America, South Africa, and Australia, to name a few. 

“One of our big goals at the moment is getting more value out of our whey and milk streams,” Hiron notes. To facilitate this, the company has initiated a few research projects looking into whey protein hydrolysates to better understand this area and their application.

“It’s a market that we haven’t spent much time researching and understanding some of the consumer markets, but we need the scientific backup and research to prove they work,” Hiron states. 

“Other products are more on the application side, creating ones that are heat stable, for example. Although we are a dairy ingredient supplier, we are also looking into other proteins, like vegetable proteins, as we see growth there,” Hiron concludes.

By Lucy Gunn

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