Evolution Fresh smoothies
Manufacturers focused on adding protein to new product formulations.

KANSAS CITY — Dairy-derived ingredients are nutritious and functional components of many recently introduced “non-milk” beverages. The ingredients contribute essential nutrients, including protein, the macronutrient today’s consumers cannot seem to get enough of in their daily diet.

Inclusion of dairy, however, means bringing one of the eight major allergens into the beverage and requires the beverage’s label to acknowledge its presence. When it comes to declaring the addition of dairy, for some marketers, the statement “contains: dairy” adds value to the product, creating a point of differentiation in the increasingly complex beverage segment. That is because having dairy ingredients listed on an ingredient legend transfers all of milk’s wholesomeness and health-promoting attributes to the beverage.

This benefit is embraced by Atkins Nutritionals Inc., Denver, with its new Atkins Lift Protein Drinks. Available in three flavors — berry, lemon and orange — each 16.9-oz bottle contains 90 to 100 calories, depending on flavor, along with no sugar and 20 grams of protein from whey protein isolate (W.P.I.).

The company recently introduced the clear beverages in conjunction with a line of low-carbohydrate high-protein bars. Both are targeted to fitness enthusiasts, not the brand’s typical target audience of the weight loss community, and merchandised in the sports nutrition aisle. This is a first for Atkins.

PowerBar, a brand of Post Holdings, Inc., St. Louis, is extending its sport nutrition know-how into the ready-to-drink (R.-T.-D.) beverage category. Gluten-free PowerBar Protein Shake is described as being fueled by protein, as it contains the company’s proprietary protein blend of milk protein concentrate (M.P.C.), calcium caseinate and whey protein concentrate (W.P.C.). Sold in 14-oz plastic shelf-stable bottles, the beverage comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors with a single bottle containing 160 calories and 30 grams of protein.

MET-Rx, Ronkonkoma, N.Y., is rolling out a new athlete-inspired beverage: MET-Rx Ultra Recovery High Protein Milk Shake. Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors, the post-workout protein shake has ultra-filtered milk as its No. 1 ingredient, enabling the beverage to claim it is “made with real milk.” It gets a protein boost from the addition of milk protein isolate (M.P.I.), to deliver 30 grams of protein in every 11-oz shelf-stable bottle.

‘Milk’ without the milk

In the sports nutrition category, an R.-T.-D. beverage brand that continues to evolve, either in response to federal regulators having concerns with label claims, or by choice, through formulation innovation, is Muscle Milk. Issues with the brand from CytoSport Inc., Walnut Creek, Calif., a business unit of Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn., began in 2009, when Nestle USA, Glendale, Calif., filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to revoke Muscle Milk’s trademark for being “deceptively misdescriptive,” as the product does not actually contain milk. But it does contain dairy ingredients. It always has and continues to make dairy ingredients a prominent ingredient.

Muscle Milk
While Muscle Milk's core beverage line contains whey proteins, it is considered non-dairy because the lactose and fat have been filtered from those proteins.

Beyond coffee’s jolt

Juicing the protein category


PowerBar protein shakes
PowerBar is extending its sport nutrition know-how into the ready-to-drink beverage category.

Specialty dairy ingredients used in beverages


Infant formula
Alpha-lactalbumin, when added to infant formula, creates a protein profile more similar to human milk.