We talked to Dr Amber Milan, a research fellow at the Liggins Institute in New Zealand and researcher for AgResearch, about her group’s findings on sheep milk digestibility; Nadia El-Zanfaly, marketing manager at VOLAC and an active member of the European Whey Processors Association (EWPA) steering group, about the Wheyforliving website; and Benoit Tavernier, product manager, specialty rice ingredients at BENEO, about upcoming trends.
We also have our weekly look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton from INTL FCStone.
NZ study says sheep milk more easily digested than cow milk
Sheep milk’s protein is more readily digested and its fats are more readily converted into energy compared to cow milk, a New Zealand study has shown.
The milk’s unique composition could make it a good option for the very young and the elderly, sports nutrition and people who are looking for alternatives to cow’s milk, researchers say.
This is believed to be the first human study in the world to investigate how differences in the composition of New Zealand sheep milk affect ease of digestion, digestive comfort and the body’s ability to make use of milk protein.
Scientists from the University of Auckland-based Liggins Institute and the Crown Research Institute AgResearch ran the clinical trial with support from sheep milk producers Spring Sheep Milk Co. and Blue River Dairy LP.
The participants, 30 women who normally avoided drinking dairy, consumed 650 ml of either cow milk or sheep milk on two separate occasions. Afterwards, the women reported on their digestive comfort, appetite and liking, and provided breath and blood samples. During the trial, neither the women nor the researchers knew who was drinking what at the time.
Study co-lead Dr Amber Milan, a research fellow at the Liggins Institute and researcher for AgResearch, said, “We already knew that sheep milk is different from cow milk. It has more nutrients per glass: more protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. For example, sheep milk has almost twice the level of calcium and zinc, compared to cow milk.
“What our trial has shown is that New Zealand sheep milk is not just compositionally different to cow’s milk, but has inherent properties, which means we digest it differently.
“We have, for the first time, confirmed that the protein in sheep milk is more readily digested compared to cow milk. Sheep milk delivered more of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, valine and isoleucine than cow milk. Amino acids are building blocks for protein, and these kinds are important for forming muscle protein.”
The higher total fat levels do not produce a higher spike in blood triglycerides, probably due to the different types of fat in sheep milk. Sheep milk delivered more of some so-called ‘good fats’ (medium-chain fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA) than cow milk, Milan said.
Spring Sheep’s food technology research & development manager, Natalie Macbeth, said, “The result of the clinical trial is good news for consumers who struggle with the digestion of cow’s milk. It’s great to be able to provide them with solid evidence that further supports the benefits of sheep milk.”
New Zealand now has more than 20,000 sheep for milking through 16 different producers, with new investment going into milk processing and supply to overseas markets, which currently include China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam.
While sheep milk is traditionally used to make cheese and yogurt, New Zealand businesses are leading the way in developing high value nutritional products including sheep milk infant and toddler formula, specialist nutritional formulations and drinks.
The researchers presented their findings at the Food Structures, Digestion and Health International Conference in Rotorua in October and are submitting their findings for publication in a scientific journal next year.
EWPA launches online whey hub
The European Whey Processors Association (EWPA) has launched a new B2C digital communication platform to promote whey protein.
The site, wheyforliving.com, aims to establish a European whey protein voice in the debate on social media, in line with the EWPA mission, i.e. promoting good communication and understanding on whey and related topics towards potential customers and consumers.
Initially powered by Arla Foods Ingredients from May to December 2019, the B2C online communication platform has now officially been taken over by the EWPA.
The site shares science-based knowledge and information on its various benefits with European consumers. The EWPA said that, although the positive health benefits of whey protein may be common knowledge to doctors, nutrition scientists and athletes trying to improve their performance, they are not as well-known among the general public.
Today, whey protein is recognized as a protein that contains all the essential amino acids needed by the body on a daily basis. It also contributes to growth and maintenance of muscles and bones.
The purpose of wheyforliving.com is to inspire and ensure that discussions about whey proteins, as well as other proteins, are based on facts and science-based knowledge rather than myths or hearsay.
On the platform, articles, recipes, tips and videos are available for inspiration to make whey protein a part of the daily diet.
BENEO clean and green texturizing solutions
Benoit Tavernier, product manager specialty rice ingredients at BENEO, says consumers worldwide are becoming increasingly interested in the ingredients in their foods and are demanding more transparency from manufacturers so they can make ethical and healthier choices.
Therefore, it is not surprising that clean label product launches doubled between 2012 and 2017. Also, with 41% of European consumers ‘always or often looking at the ingredient list’, the importance of the label cannot be underestimated.
This is why BENEO is focusing R&D efforts on its organic and clean label rice starches portfolio, with some new solutions already in the pipeline.
With rice being such an accepted and recognizable kitchen cupboard ingredient, BENEO has already worked with manufacturers on a wide range of recipe concepts, including everything from cream cheese, bakery creams, ice creams and tomato-based sauces, through to spoonable dressings and ketchups.
Alongside the recent Food Ingredients Europe (FiE) event, in Paris, France, BENEO showcased some of its solutions and concepts, which included an organic and fiber-enriched yogurt.
The vanilla yogurt sample with BENEO’s organic rice starch and chicory root fiber is organic and also high in fiber. By using native rice starch in the vanilla preparation, the final product has a creamy mouthfeel and good body.