International Whey Conference 2017

Glanbia Nutritionals CEO: Largest growth in whey comes from emerging markets

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Whey ingredients market growth is projected to accelerate faster than gains in milk production, Glanbia Nutritionals CEO said at IWC. ©iStock/bert_phantana
Whey ingredients market growth is projected to accelerate faster than gains in milk production, Glanbia Nutritionals CEO said at IWC. ©iStock/bert_phantana

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Market demand for whey continues to rise and Glanbia Nutritionals sees the most opportunity for growth in emerging markets, particularly Asia Pacific. 

Asia Pacific is leading the global whey market, registering double-digit annual growth, a trend projected to continue through 2020, according to Glanbia.

“Dairy in developed countries are tougher to compete in; emerging reveal promising opportunities as they evolve along their dairy culture curve,”​ Glanbia Nutritionals CEO, Brian Phelan, said at the 2017 International Whey Conference (IWC) in Chicago.

In addition to Asia Pacific, South America continues to show promising potential as traditional milk pools expand, Phelan said.

Recognizing this demand, Glanbia Nutritionals has made several investments through organic growth and through M&A activity in the whey category including the planned 2018 expansion of its high-end whey production capacity in Idaho.

Earlier this year, the company also announced plans to build a new cheese and whey production facility in Michigan, which once completed in 2020 will expand the company’s production capacity by 30%.

“As this category [performance nutrition] becomes mainstreamed, we’ve bought brands to play into that mainstream trend from specialty to ready-to-mix offerings,”​ Phelan said.

In terms of M&A growth in the sports nutrition category, Glanbia purchased Optimum Nutrition for $315m in 2008, made a $144m acquisition of Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition, and paid $153m for The Isopure Co., maker of powders and ready-to-drink products.

Delivering whey protein content in a convenient way will continue to be a focus for Glanbia, Phelan said. He added that the explosive growth protein-fortified food and beverages products experienced in the US will likely happen in emerging markets but only through targeted efforts from the dairy industry around whey’s scientifically researched nutritional benefits.

“We’ve got to go out and re-galvanize industry and not take anything for granted,”​ Phelan said.

US whey demands premiumize

Premiumizing consumer preferences in the US have spurred demand for new products formats that incorporate whey as an ingredient.

Glanbia Nutritionals most recently added a heat-stable and hydrolyzed whey protein, ProTherma, to its portfolio designed for use in hot ready-to-mix applications such as coffee, coffee creamers, tea, hot chocolate, malt drinks, and coffee pods.

ProTherma is an agglomerated hydrolyzed whey protein consisting of 85% low lactose protein and designed to withstand high temperatures giving it the ability to stay soluble and stable when added to hot water.

The hydrolyzed whey protein was developed to respond to demand for protein-enriched products, particularly in the global hot beverages category, which grew by 5% in volume between 2015 and 2016, according to market research company Euromonitor International. 

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