Incorporating protein or ancient grains into beverages might add to sales, provided the ingredients do not add any texture or mouthfeel issues such as grittiness.

Fifty per cent of Americans are trying to consume more protein, and 38% specifically consume protein shakes or beverages to get protein, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2014 Food & Health Survey. Protein shakes or beverages rank behind peanut butter and other nut butters (70%), protein bars (51%), Greek yogurt (51%), regular yogurt (45%) and luncheon/deli meat (42%).

In addition, a survey this year from The NPD Group found one in five consumers is willing to pay more for a protein-enriched item.

“People looking to get healthy or add protein to their diet still want things to taste good and taste like things they are used to eating,” said Adams Berzins, sweetener solutions technical service project leader for Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill. ”Protein, and especially protein drinks, have had a rather gritty road (pun intended). That chalky, gritty mouthfeel is something that often turned people off from these types of beverages, making them less appealing to the average customer. The ‘no pain, no gain’ customer would swallow it down and move on with their work out, but the person just adding protein to their everyday diet would probably look elsewhere.”

Using co-texturizers and new forms of protein may provide opportunities to provide a pleasurable eating experience, he said.

“Texture can make or break a beverage, and added protein may leave a gritty mouthfeel or even precipitate out of solution,” said Wendy Erickson, technical service manager for Cargill, Minneapolis. “In these difficult applications, hydrocolloids such as carrageenan can even out the texture, holding ingredients in suspension and improving mouthfeel.

“This is especially true in neutral beverages, where maintaining low viscosity and protein stability can be a real challenge. Carrageenan provides stability, slowing down the creaming of fat globules and the sedimentation of insoluble particles such as cocoa or calcium in a low viscosity, neutral pH medium.”

Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., launched GumPlete starch and gum systems at SupplySide West in Las Vegas earlier this month. Besides beverages, the systems also may be used in baked foods, dressings, dips, soups and sauces, and egg replacements, according to the company.

In beverages, GumPlete SC-BV-317 provides emulsification and is acid stable and shear stable, according to Penford Food Ingredients. The ingredient statement may read food starch-modified, carrageenan (standardized with maltodextrin).

Penford Corp. in June completed the acquisition of Gum Technology Corp., a gum and hydrocolloids blending, services and distribution company serving primarily the food and beverage industries.

“Typically, starch and gums are sold by separate, competing suppliers, which can result in over‐stabilization or inefficient combinations,” said John Randall, president of Penford Food Ingredients. “When Penford Food Ingredients acquired Gum Technology in April, it empowered the two companies to develop cohesive specialty starch and gum solutions.”

TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md., offers Ticaloid Ultrasmooth, a cold water soluble hydrocolloid system that decreases the perception of particulates in the finished beverage as opposed to using a single hydrocolloid ingredient.

The company performed a sensory evaluation involving a control sample, a single ingredient hydrocolloid (xanthan gum) sample and a Ticaloid Ultrasmooth sample. The sample containing xanthan gum had the highest slipperiness and fastest mouth clearing, and the sample containing Ticaloid Ultrasmooth fell between the control and the xanthan gum sample for both attributes. Formulating with Ticaloid Ultrasmooth more effectively decreased the perception of grit in the finished beverage than using a single ingredient hydrocolloid solution.

Ticaloid Ultrasmooth show-ed an advantage over xanthan gum in reducing the perception of particulates in the finished beverage. Use of Ticaloid Ultrasmooth in instant protein beverages containing vitamin-mineral blends, fiber and other nutritional ingredients enhances the texture, according to TIC Gums.

George Rakes, senior technical fellow for DuPont Nutrition & Health, gave formulation and processing tips to achieve high levels of protein in snacks and beverages during a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Wellness 14 in Chicago in March. He said new technology agglomerate/lecithinated isolated soy protein provided better dispersibility and cleaner flavor in dry blended beverages. The optimization of the soy protein/stabilizer /process system is key in ready-to-drink acid beverages.

Drinking in chia

Chia seeds experienced a tenfold increase in ingredient penetration globally between 2009 and 2014, according to Mintel International. They have found a place in beverage formulations, too. Twelve per cent of the products launched with chia seeds in 2013 were in the beverage category, which was up from zero in 2009, according to Mintel. Chia’s high fiber content in beverages may set those beverages apart from other beverages, according to Mintel.

Cargill sees opportunity in the use of ancient grains such as chia and quinoa in beverages.

“This is an interesting take on mouthfeel because so much of the texture of protein and grain-based beverages come from the protein or the grains themselves,” said Sharon Walbert, assistant vice-president, research and development director, Cargill. “We have been very focused on how to add back mouthfeel to low-calorie beverages. This is about thinning or modifying the mouthfeel to add more lubricity to very thick beverages.”

Cargill also is developing solutions with sprouted grains to improve the texture, mouthfeel and nutrition of beverages, she said.

Glanbia Nutritionals offers super-finely milled BevGrad chia to deliver smooth texture, dispersibility and minimal visual impact in ready-to-drink and ready-to-mix beverages, according to the company, which has an office in Fitchburg, Wis. BevGrad is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and minerals.

Glanbia Nutritionals Inc. showcased its new cultured Greek yogurt powder in an energy chia smoothie that also contained the company’s super-finely milled white chia seed during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in June in New Orleans. The chia, which is about 15% protein, disperses to allow for smooth, non-gritty beverages, according to the company.

Mamma Chia, Carlsbad, Calif., this year launched Vitality + Energy beverages that contain chia and an energy source in guayusa.

Besides chia and soy, other vegetarian sources may appear in beverages.

Ingredion now offers a vegetarian source of protein derived from pea, lentil and faba bean through a partnership with Alliance Grain Traders, Inc., Mr. Berzins said. Earlier this year Ingredion became the distributor of Alliance Grain Traders’ pulse flours, protein and bran ingredients.

The use of another ancient grain, quinoa, also has increased in beverages. Novel Ingredient Services, West Caldwell, N.J., last year become the exclusive U.S. distributor (neutraceutical market) for Quinoasure, a quinoa powder suitable for use as an ingredient in foods, beverages, dietary supplements and meal replacements. The company also will service Canada and Mexico. Quinoasure is available in both conventional and organic form. It is odorless, virtually tasteless and has better mouthfeel than quinoa grain, according to Novel Ingredient Services. Potential applications include nutritional supplements, meal replacements, beverages and food.

This year NUWI Quinoa Drinkable Snacks entered the market. Depending on the variety, they have 3 to 9 grams of protein, 3 to 6 grams of fiber, and 8 to 21 grams of sugar.