Protein on the go

by Jeff Gelski
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Ingredient innovators are finding ways to pair protein with convenience in the beverage category. Part of the task involves solving solubility issues to allow for the creation of ready-to-drink (R.-T.-D.)protein beverages.
Protein remains a strong marketing point for processed foods and beverage companies, judging by statistics from The Nielsen Co., New York. U.S. sales of foods and beverages with protein claims reached $2,582,425,136 for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 3, 2009, which marked a 6% increase from sales of $2,432,944,775 for the previous 52-week period.

Many protein beverage products come in powders and may require consumers to use blenders or mixers, said Jing Y. Hagert, international sales manager and market analyst for Milk Specialties Global Food Solutions Group, Eden Prairie, Minn. A new hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate from her company addresses that convenience problem and allows for the creation of R.-T.-D. protein beverages.

Those beverages also may come in clear bottles, generally a problem with protein drinks because of coagulation, Ms. Hagert said. Beverage makers even when using aseptic packaging may avoid coagulation by using the new hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate, she said.

“It is definitely a growing business right now,” Ms. Hagert said of protein drinks coming in clear bottles.
The flavor in hydrolyzed whey protein is sensitive, she added, but her company has staff in-house to work with customers on flavor masking. Peach, mixed berry and grape are several popular flavor profiles in protein beverages that include the hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate, she said.

Glanbia Nutritionals, Monroe, Wis., plans to present an R.-T.-D. shake prototype with 35 grams of whey protein at SupplySide West Nov. 11-13 in Las Vegas. The 200-calorie ProNOS R.-T.-D. protein shake designed by Glanbia Nutritionals is based on the company’s whey stabilization technology for liquids.
Grande Custom Ingredients Group, Lomira, Wis., offers several ingredients in its Grande Ultra brand that have been shown to work in protein drinks. While Ultra 8000 generally is suited for beverages, Ultra 8010 is more for use in instant-mix type drinks. Ultra 8020 is hydrolyzed and used in sports drinks, usually when there is a labeling issue on the final product. Ultra 8040 has been shown to work under high heat conditions.

Grande Custom Ingredients Group produces all white Italian cheeses. The resulting whey base thus is consistent in flavor and color, which means no colors are used that could vary the color of the drink powder, according to the company.

Soy, canola and peas are other potential protein sources for beverage manufacturers.

Solae, L.L.C., St. Louis, this year launched Supro XF, a soy protein isolate that may enhance the flavor and functionality of R.-T.-D. and powder beverages designed for sports performance and weight management. The lower levels of soy volatiles in Supro XF mean it has a less “beany” flavor, higher solubility at neutral to slightly acidic pH ranges when compared to other soy proteins, and a low viscosity profile similar to hydrolyzed proteins while avoiding a bitter flavor.

Burcon NutraScience Corp., Vancouver, B.C., and Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., plan to submit a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) notification to the Food and Drug Administration for a Puratein canola protein isolate. The ingredient has emulsifying and binding characteristics and is transparent when added to beverages, according to Burcon NutraScience.

A&B Ingredients, Fairfield, N.J., now offers Pisane, a pea protein isolate, with a higher solubility level (80%). The ingredient is 88% to 90% protein and has been shown to work in such applications as R.-T.-D. and nutritional beverages, along with weight control and sport food products. It is lactose-free and contains high levels of lysine and arginine amino acids.

While whey protein may have a bitter note, pea proteins may offer more of a grassy note, said Brandon Baer, in technical support for A&B Ingredients. When used together, the two proteins’ flavor notes may balance the taste in a beverage, Mr. Baer said.

Whey protein also may work in conjunction with casein, Ms. Hagert said. The body absorbs whey protein quickly, such as before a workout, she said. The body absorbs casein more slowly, such as during and after a workout, she added.

Arla opens application center

AARHUS, DENMARK — Arla has opened a new application center in Aarhus and introduced a Twintell application program.

The center, built for DKK20 million ($4 million), will employ 30 technologists who will work with functional proteins from milk and whey extracted during Arla’s cheese production. Examples of functional attributes that may be improved include the creaminess of yogurt, the consistency of ice cream and the fat content of cheese.

“Sitting our creative expertise under one roof is a huge advantage because knowledge, skill and state-of-the-art equipment is accessible to everyone,” said Jais Valeur, executive group director for Arla Foods Ingredients. “It opens up a range of new opportunities for developing concepts for even more markets.”
The Twintell application program is divided into three steps. Arla first invites customers to talk about challenges they face with a particular product or solution. The second step involves a week’s worth of trials and tests on multiple taste samples and possible solutions at the application center. The third and final step involves testing the preferred solution on a large scale in the customer’s production facility. Arla calls the three steps define, develop and deploy.

The dairy, bakery and meat industries all make use of functional milk proteins, according to Arla, which has a target of doubling the sales of its functional milk proteins before 2013. Revenue in 2008 was close to DKK2 billion.

“Our people have found that functional proteins from milk or whey can replace casein in salami, egg white in muffins and make fruit drinks useable in diets and weight control,” Mr. Valeur said. “Regardless of the food product, producers often decide to use our milk proteins because they know that they are getting a super, functional ingredient that in many cases is more natural and cheaper than other alternatives.”
Arla has a U.S. office, Arla Foods Ingredients, Inc., USA, in Basking Ridge, N.J.

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