Dairy platforms: Arla Foods Ingredients eyes personalization and protein


23 Oct 2018 --- The dairy category has changed dramatically in the past decade, driven by the move towards personalization. In doing so it has become more and more sophisticated with a wider choice of products available for different needs. There are now dairy products tailored to a range of dietary and nutrition needs: high protein, high calcium and low lactose, to name just a few. 

Arla Foods Ingredients sees a greater differentiation for different types of people, with products targeting specific age groups, including the growing number of senior consumers, a demographic that still holds enormous potential.

FoodIngredientsFirst recently spoke with Peter Schouw Andersen, Director, Application Science & Technology, Arla Foods Ingredients, who discussed some of the innovation in dairy ingredients and their R&D pipeline. 

“Our research never stops and we’re continually looking for new ways to help the dairy industry become more innovative, efficient and profitable. Our approach is to look at the market, and at manufacturing processes, and identify where a problem or opportunity exists. For example, we recently launched one of the world’s fastest cream cheese manufacturing processes,” he explains. 

“Traditionally, cream cheese-making is a complex procedure that can take up to 20 hours and generates significant amounts of acid whey meaning it is inefficient, expensive and occupies valuable space on the production line. But thanks to a new whey protein ingredient solution – Nutrilac CH-7694 – dairies can now reduce the cream cheese manufacturing process to just 30 minutes while increasing yield at the same time. The key to the speedy production process is the elimination of the fermentation and separation processes. Not only does this dramatically reduce manufacturing times, but it also eradicates acid whey production and requires less investment in machinery.”

Protein boom shows ongoing growth
The dairy industry is in pole position to capitalize on the popularity of protein, says Andersen. “Milk and milk products are naturally rich in dairy protein, which is the most nutritious source of protein available. Clued-up consumers know that they’ll find good quality protein – such as whey – in the dairy aisle and gravitate there.”

“Nevertheless, the market is evolving and right now, the main challenge to high protein dairy products is coming from the snack aisle, where the number of protein bars has exploded in recent years. But rather than seeing snacks as a threat, dairy companies should view them as an opportunity. Milk proteins like whey are a great fit for snack bars and there’s no reason why dairy manufacturers shouldn’t expand their protein expertise into this category. Brand equity counts for a lot, and whey protein-rich bars made by a trusted dairy company could be an excellent proposition in the snacking category,” Andersen notes. 

Of course, the dairy alternatives sector is also experiencing exponential growth and for Arla Foods Ingredients, this cannot be ignored. “We’re always being asked about proteins from other sources, especially new plant sources,” Andersen continues. “We always say that dairy proteins and especially whey, are the best protein source for many reasons, including nutrition, taste and ease of processing.”

“But, having said that, we also believe – as with any market – that a wider product offering usually increases the popularity of a category and this is definitely the case here. It means there’s plenty of positive noise around protein and it gives consumers more choice. Plant proteins have brought new consumers into the market and increased protein’s popularity overall. We see that as a good thing,” he reveals. 

Elsewhere in the dairy space, the infant nutrition and senior nutrition markets also open doors for innovation. 

“Infant and senior nutrition sit at opposite ends of the age spectrum, but both are really important markets for the dairy industry,” says Andersen. “In infant nutrition, protein is the building block for growth, so dairy ingredients are a great source of goodness. For senior consumers, meanwhile, protein helps prevent age-related conditions such as sarcopenia, and dairy products are a great option for products targeting these. As groups, babies and seniors have different needs but one thing in common: they can both benefit enormously from a diet rich in good quality dairy protein, such as whey.”

Meanwhile, dairy products that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein are very appealing to consumers. “This is illustrated by the popularity of skyr,” Andersen muses, “Which is emerging as a new force in the dairy industry. 

Skyr is a fermented dairy product, similar to yogurt. It is originally from Iceland, where it has been consumed for hundreds of years, but its popularity has spread worldwide recently thanks to its pleasantly mild taste, low levels of fat and carbs, and high protein content. 

“Skyr’s time on the fringes of the dairy industry are over – it is now becoming established in the mainstream and we expect sales to grow strongly over the next few years,” he adds. 

Next month, during HiE, Arla Foods Ingredients will showcase how to make unique whey protein RTD formulas, supporting the continuous healthy on-the-go trend. By using whey protein hydrolysates consumers can obtain all the essential amino acids in convenient 100 percent whey based RTD´s like sparkling protein soda or whey protein shot. Stay tuned! 

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