NZMP highlights consumer trends driving demand for protein across Asia


16 Oct 2017 --- With the Asia protein ingredients market forecast to grow by 11.5 percent from 2016 to 2020, NZMP – Fonterra’s dairy ingredients business – are leading the way as one of the key players for high protein food launches. NZMP believes that Asian consumers are increasingly seeking specific nutritional benefits to support their growing interest in health and active living.

FoodIngredientsFirst spoke to Ingredients General Manager for South East Asia, Hamish Gowans, who discussed the current trends and opportunities within Asia for dairy and protein ingredients.

“Asian consumers are increasingly seeking specific nutritional benefits to support their growing interest in health and active living while demanding greater convenience to fit urban, time-poor lifestyles. Protein is rapidly evolving from ‘fitness’ to a ‘health and wellness’ ingredient, as incomes rise and people become more aware of its benefits. Although protein has long been associated with bodybuilders and elite athletes, protein-fortified food has now expanded into the mainstream,” he explains.  

“Protein boosts and maintains muscle, helps with weight management, improves growth and development, and helps to keep people active as they age.”

“Dairy, in particular, is an excellent source of high-quality protein and is a tremendous nutritional bundle. Protein from dairy is amongst the highest quality protein available, providing more digestible essential amino acids per gram than other protein options, such as soy,” Gowans notes.

According to Gowans, there is significant growth in protein and dairy as a whole across Asia. “In general, the South East Asian markets are growing strongly, as the population becomes urbaner and there is an increase in more affluent consumers.”

“In places like Bangladesh or even places with a more sophisticated market in terms of a consumers format such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam, all those markets are in their own sort of evolution,” he explains. “In Thailand, consumers and customers are starting to position formats into beverage formats and are questioning how they can get protein into yogurts, beverages, cultured beverages and even into the more developed nutritional spaces, in terms of pediatrics and medical nutrition.”

“For some parts of the region, dairy is not historically a typically consumed product, even when you talk about dairy the connotations are around calcium, so there is still some more education which can be done around the benefits of dairy and the nutritional building blocks, certainly when it comes to satiety and maintaining muscle,” he reveals. 

Which applications have the most potential for growth in Asia? “We are seeing growth across everything because we are quite a diverse market spread, but in markets like Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, beverages are something that we are seeing some strong growth in, where there is a big focus on incorporating dairy into UHT beverages.”

“Also children’s milk is another interesting growth area and the area around children and nutrition, nowadays it’s not necessarily just pediatrics, and it’s for older and teenage kids too. So beverage have a great growth potential in this area,” he states.

“There are also some interesting trends around yogurt and ambient yogurt which we have noted. There has been huge growth in China and over the last four years it has just exploded and given many more options to this part of the world.  Ambient yogurt and sophisticated dairy in general, is an area where we are seeing some real interest and potential growth, we are also seeing in the foodservice area, growth in the likes of cheese such as mozzarellas, butters and creams, and they are also growing really strongly.”

Fonterra has a long history in Asia, and the company has partnered with a number of food and beverage companies in the region. According to Gowans, Fonterra are adapting a collaborative approach with their customers, not only for the ingredients solutions and the all the expertise that go with that. “We are spending around NZ$100 million a year  on R&D, focused out of our research teams in New Zealand, which has around 350 scientists and support staff, there is a big focus there on dairy R&D and a lot of it tailored to protein specifically,” he says.

Some of the concepts launched and exhibited by NZMP at FIA earlier this year, were around Fast Milk Protein. NZMP created a new Milk Protein Concentrate that significantly increases the rate of amino acid digestion and absorption after consumption.

SureProtein Fast MPC 4868 is an optimal source of rapidly digestible milk proteins, providing muscles with a higher level of amino acids within the first two hours of consumption compared to standard milk protein offerings. “The way that we manufacture SureProtein Fast MPC 4868 allows us to get the same amino acid absorbs ion and uptake by the body as the whey protein concentrate, which is great for the consumer and the end user. Manufacturers are able to use this product because of the protein ratios that have a high heat treatment so they can put this higher protein into a UHT beverage, if you tried to do the same thing with a whey protein concentrate you would not get the same result,” he confirms.  

“So we are looking at the trends in the beverage space specifically, UHT milk is still popular given the ambient nature, so we want to provide the end consumer with a protein absorption they would like, but in a UHT format that our customers, the manufactures, can incorporate.”

“We’ve also developed a range of proteins which helps standardize and increase levels of protein in standardized milk, and in ambient yogurt production which can allows the product to regain a smooth and stable texture through its shelf life,” Gowans notes. “Often in the ambient yogurt space you can’t  get yogurts that aren’t as shelf stable and they tend to clump, so the range of ingredients that we have built is helping in that space, especially in China.”

“We are seeing these trends beginning to play out in South East Asia, and then we’ve also got ingredients like our whole milk powders for UHT beverages where local milk can be difficult to consume, you can use this whole milk powder for UHT high heat applications and that helps the customers optimize the manufacturing process while proving a fantastic clean label UHT milk with a consistent shelf life, which is relevant to some of our markets in Asia,” he finalizes.

You can listen to the podcast interview with Gowans here

By Elizabeth Green

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