From high protein coffees to popsicles, dairy proteins are entering new categories, says AMCO Proteins

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

AMCO Proteins: 'With a 10 year CAGR of 7.5% in whey protein alone, this market is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down...'
AMCO Proteins: 'With a 10 year CAGR of 7.5% in whey protein alone, this market is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down...'

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While plant-based and so-called ‘alternative’ proteins – from algae to cricket powder – continue to gain traction in the food industry, dairy proteins are still growing, fast, says AMCO Proteins, which has been working with customers on a range of novel applications from popcorn and popsicles to high protein coffees and creamers.

“People are trying to get more protein into their diet, whether it’s plant- or animal-based​,” Gail Sabatura, R&D manager at AMCO Proteins​ told FoodNavigator-USA.

Whey protein is growing across the board, in everything from dairy based desserts and ice cream to yogurts and probiotic drinks​. In my opinion there’s no comparison between dairy and plant proteins. Dairy is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids, and overall dairy proteins really shine in terms of functionality and flavor profiles.

“They are pretty neutral tasting and work well with a variety of flavors from fruits and acidic flavors, to indulgent sweet flavors such as chocolate and caramel. So whey protein isolate is pretty clean tasting and whey protein concentrate is more milky-tasting.”

From a formulation perspective, she added, “Dairy proteins originate as proteins already solubilized in a liquid matrix. Providing that a manufacture builds in proper and adequate hydration, spray dried dairy proteins will retain all of the functionality seen in fluid milk.”

By contrast, she claimed, “Challenges still exist when using plant-based proteins that just don’t exist when dairy proteins are used – problems such as protein solvation, pH instability and end-product grittiness.”

High protein coffees, creamers, waters, teas

Some emerging application areas for dairy proteins include coffees and creamers, she added. “There’s a lot of interest in milk protein concentrates in ready-to-drink traditional and cold brew coffee for a more filling breakfast option. We’ve also worked on coffee enriched with protein and medium chain triglyceride oils (MCTs) and whey protein concentrate; and high protein coffee creamers featuring an instantized cold/warm water soluble milk protein concentrate that’s been lecithinated using a sunflower oil.”

Other emerging areas in beverages include protein enriched iced teas, and protein-enhanced waters with 20g of whey protein isolate per 12oz serving, she said.

“In beverages, you need to work on the pH and buffering systems to make sure the protein remains suspended.”

High protein muffins, popcorn

Higher protein baked goods are also gaining traction, she said. “Several of our clients have launched protein enriched products such as brownies, cookies and even a shelf-stable waffle. They’re all fortified with AMCO Proteins Bake Plus, which is designed to help aid in lift and rise when fortifying baked goods with dairy proteins.

“We also have Snack Plus which is a dairy protein blend designed to be topically applied to snacks such as a white cheddar protein popcorn.”

High protein popsicles

She added: “There’s also been an uptick in frozen novelties that feature milk protein concentrate-fortified frozen desserts, similar to ice cream. These frozen novelties are high in protein, low in sugar and typically high in fiber. We also have a customer that has recently launched a popsicle product that features AMCO Proteins’ ArticPlus​ [a milk protein concentrate geared to frozen items].”

Challenging application areas

That said, dairy proteins don't work in everything, said Sabatura: "Acidic products like tomato soup and orange juice are very challenging, because the protein wants to precipitate out of the solution - the beverages can start looking like those Christmas snow globes...

"Proteins are happiest in shakes, puddings, yogurt, desserts and ice cream, but you can put them in a pretty wide range of foods from oatmeal and quiches, to brownies. They are very flexible."

‘This market is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down’

Looking ahead, she said, “With a 10 year CAGR of 7.5% in whey protein alone, this market is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down.

“What consumers can developers can expect to see alongside this growing trend of protein enriched foods will be a reduction in sugar with an emphasis on more natural sweeteners (such as stevia and erythritol), more decadent flavors most especially in the dessert and snack categories, the fortification of dietary fibers, cleaner ingredient statements, better product traceability and lastly, products that deliver probiotics.”

amco proteins-samples

AMCO Proteins​showcased two products at Supply Side West in Las Vegas this month: a whey protein hydrolysate (Tempro 80) and a proprietary milk protein isolate blend. 

The milk protein isolate blend was sampled in a high protein peanut butter bar​ with 19g protein per serving and “exceptional mouth clearance and softness​,” said Sabatura.

Typically high protein bars are very dense and difficult to chew. Also, most dairy-based bars carry a short shelf-life that ends with a rock-hard bar. Our goal was to develop a blend that helps to extend the natural shelf life of the bar without sacrificing its texture over time.”

The new Tempro80 whey protein hydrolysate was sampled in a chocolate covered pretzel​. “First and foremost, it’s the particulate size that matters: the smaller the protein fraction the more smooth it will feel when eating. Secondly, hydrolyzed proteins tend to be less viscous and more pourable when mixed into higher fat bases, whereas whole intact proteins tend to seize up and solidify,” ​said Sabatura.

amco proteins

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