Protein has been one of the hottest functional ingredients for the past few years, and there is no sign of it slowing down. Consumers are demanding the incorporation of protein in all types of food and beverage products, especially those geared toward weight management.
But when it comes to functional foods and beverages, brands can’t just slap a label on a nutrition bar or juice and call it functional. Consumers are demanding functional and fortified foods that are healthy, safe and enjoyable.
This means product developers must balance the “yum" factor with health, texture, appearance and cost. Proper understanding of the ingredient features, such as preservation, texturization, emulsification, coloring, processing aids and nutritional enhancement allow formulators to create tasty and functional products that meet consumer demands.
One area of particular concern among health professionals is the growing obesity epidemic, which opens the door to innovation for milk and whey proteins within the weight management category, noted Torben Jensen, category manager for Fresh Dairy Products, Arla Foods Ingredients.
Global sales of weight management products reached an estimated $158 billion in 2014, according to Euromonitor. Interestingly, while 64.5 percent of consumers are actively avoiding or reducing consumption of fatty foods, and find low-calorie and low-fat claims on products made with natural ingredients very appealing, they don’t want to sacrifice indulgence.
“Whey protein offers manufacturers an excellent solution to this dilemma. Proteins have a strong satiety effect, a rich amino acid profile, and years of scientific evidence supports the fact that diets high in protein increase weight loss, and prevent weight gain and regain. Whey protein is also 100-percent natural and can be used to formulate products that are lower in calories and fat but still offer great taste and satiety," Jensen said.
Reflecting this trend, the number of launches of products with a “high source of protein" positioning in North America grew by 29 percent in 2014, compared with 2013, according to market data from Innova Market Insights.
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