Protein products
The possibilities to capitalize on dairy ingredients’ healthy attributes are exploding as consumers seek more from their baked foods.

CHICAGO — Dairy-derived ingredients are nutritious and functional powerhouses with application in all types of baked goods. These ingredients contribute essential nutrients while also exhibiting numerous functions, such as desirable crust browning, enhanced yeast fermentation, improved handling and stability of batter or dough, egg replacement and protein fortification.

Dairy ingredients’ origins are in either fluid milk or whey — the liquid stream that remains after milk gets curded into cheese — making them very label-friendly. In addition to basic fractions, such as nonfat dry milk (N.D.M.) and lactose, there are many specialty ingredients, with suppliers typically offering proprietary versions that differentiate in terms of nutrition or functionality. With many, the emphasis is on delivering concentrated levels of high-quality protein that contains all essential amino acids in the proportion best suited for the body.

Milk contains two primary types of protein: casein and whey. Under specific acidic conditions, casein coagulates and forms curds. Casein is also known as a slow-digesting protein. Whey proteins, on the other hand, are fast-digesting proteins that do not coagulate at low pH.

Some bakers are deterred from using dairy ingredients because inclusion means bringing one of the eight major allergens into a product. However, other bakers find dairy ingredients to be attractive additions. After all, inclusion requires label declaration, and for some marketers, the statement “Contains dairy” adds value to the product, creating a point of differentiation in the increasingly competitive marketplace. Dairy’s perceived wholesomeness and health-promoting attributes can transfer to the product. This is especially true for dairy proteins, which have a positive reputation in the sports nutrition and weight management sectors.

“Consumers are looking for more from their food,” said Gerry Buescher, director of business development for Agropur Ingredients. “Protein ingredients are being used to fortify everything from mainstay grocery items to health-and-wellness foods to sport nutrition products.”