1. Consumers want more protein.
Numerous surveys show that consumers are trying to increase their protein intake, as they understand protein satiates and builds muscle. According to the 2016 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation, 64% of Americans are seeking out protein in the diet, a statistically significant increase compared to 2015.
2. Dairy proteins are high-quality, complete proteins. Not all proteins are created equal. Consumers are starting to understand that dairy proteins offer benefits that make them a higher-quality option than plant proteins.
Dairy proteins have long been the protein of choice among athletes and frequent gym-goers. There are two types of high-quality dairy protein ingredient options: whey proteins and milk proteins. Both are high-quality, complete proteins that contain all of the essential and nonessential amino acids the body needs. The difference lies in the dominant protein found in each one. With most milk protein ingredients, such as milk protein concentrates and milk protein isolates, casein is the dominant protein. The typical composition of these ingredients reflects what you find in cows milk, which is about 80% casein and 20% whey protein.
Whey protein ingredients, as the name suggests, are a concentrated source of whey proteins. For example, whey protein concentrate typically contains 34% to 89%, while whey protein isolate contains 90% or more.
Protein quality is quantified through the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) and the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). The latter has long been the standard measurement. The newer DIAAS is proving to be a more accurate assessment of protein quality.
Dairy proteins have an exceptionally high DIAAS score because of the presence of branched-chain amino acids, which help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Each dairy protein has more branched-chain amino acids than egg, meat, soy and wheat proteins. Whey protein, specifically, is seen as higher quality because of the presence of leucine, a branched-chain amino acid accountable for muscle synthesis.
3. Dairy proteins are versatile. They have a neutral, bland taste that complements most foods and beverages. They readily dissolve in systems, with some proteins contributing creamy, dairy-rich whiteness, while others becoming invisible.
To read a Food Business News article titled “Functional dairy foods—beyond basic nutrition,” link HERE. The article discusses the opportunities in boosting the protein content of dairy foods, along with adding other functional ingredients.
4. They are clean-label ingredients.
The IFIC survey shows that Americans want to know more about their food and are changing their behaviors based on what they learn. This year, almost half of all American (47%) said they look at the ingredients list when deciding what to purchase, up from 40% just a year ago.
When Americans define what makes a food healthy, it’s becoming more about what is not in a food rather than what is in it. The presence of artificial ingredients and preservatives is a leading deal breaker when it comes to purchase intent. Photo source: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
The U.S. Dairy Export Council offers a technical report titled “Dairy Solutions for Clean-Label applications.” You can view it HERE.
5. They provide functionality.
Some dairy proteins assist with water binding. Thus, they can stabilize food systems, such as cheese spreads, cultured dairy products and ice cream, while also increasing protein content. Whenever possible, it makes sense to put dairy back into dairy, instead of using carbohydrate-based hydrocolloids.
6. Dairy proteins can assist with weight management.
An improved understanding of appetite regulation mechanisms has enabled formulators to develop food products that help consumers feel full and satisfied, which in turn helps them eat less and ultimately lose weight, and then maintain weight.
According to “Optimizing foods for satiety” in the February 2015 issue of Trends in Food Science & Technology, a food’s satiating power is dependent not only on its nutrient composition but also the consumer’s sensory and cognitive appraisal of the food. The review concluded that numerous features of a food product can be manipulated to enhance the consumer’s experience of satiety, with the combination of these features ultimately determining the effect on appetite control. Taking this integrated approach to satiety will optimize the development of high-satiety foods, with dairy foods well poised as satiety-inducing foods.
Biochemically speaking, satiety is all about signals that feed into specific areas of the brain in response to the expansion of the stomach. Hormonal signals are also released in response to the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients.
According to research from Nizo Food Research, The Netherlands, foods behave differently in the stomach, depending on their structure. This behavior impacts stomach volume and the rate at which the stomach releases nutrients to the small intestine for absorption, both important physiological parameters by which the body estimates the time to stop eating.
With protein, research shows that not only does this macronutrient exert appetite regulation mechanisms, consumption is also correlated to lean muscle building and maintenance.
7. They build lean muscle mass.
Numerous studies show that high-quality protein, most notably whey proteins, demonstrate a greater ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise. This is because whey is quickly digested and helps immediate protein synthesis by stimulating muscle growth and recovery. Casein protein provides similar effects in terms of muscle growth but is more slowly digested, providing longer-lasting protein synthesis.
Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council
According to Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, data indicates all humans need about the same amount of dietary protein every day for basic lean muscle repair and remodeling. To reap other benefits—those for optimum performance—one must consider the quality of the protein and the quantity of the protein at every meal, in particular breakfast.
Simply, data suggests that every meal should include 30 grams of high-quality protein, including protein that is high in the branched-chain amino acid leucine. This is the amount of protein for the body to function at its best. Of all the protein ingredients available to food and beverage manufacturers, whey protein isolate contains the most leucine: 11%. Milk protein concentrate comes in second at 9.5%, followed by egg protein at 8.8%.
What does this mean for dairy processors? For starters, marketers need to promote the inherent high-quality protein content of fluid milk so that more consumers reach for a glass at every meal. In fact, the inherent protein content of all dairy foods is a great marketing tool.
On the innovation side, by starting with a source of high-quality protein—milk—and boosting protein with one or more of these ingredients, dairy foods become the ideal product to get many consumers to that magic number of 30 grams of protein at every meal. Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council
Research shows that older people tend to consume less protein due to decreased appetite or digestive and metabolic change. Lack of high-quality protein—protein that contains all the essential amino acids—is a factor contributing to loss of muscle mass. This in turn contributes to a decline in health and loss of strength and physical function. Consuming a moderate amount of high-quality protein at each meal can also be a useful strategy to help maintain muscle mass and to help protect against the debilitating effects of sarcopenia, the age-related progressive loss of muscle mass and function that can begin as early as age 40. For more information, link HERE.
All types of foods and beverages are being formulated with dairy proteins. You can find them in cereals, chips, cookies, crackers, noodles, soups, sauces and even veggie burgers. Put them back into dairy and brag about them.
“Dairy proteins, in particular whey proteins, are recognized as the gold standard in quality protein,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Dairy processors need to flag their inclusion in dairy products. Think low-fat ranch dip with xx grams of whey proteins. What about a ready-to-drink latte with a dairy protein boost that’s described as filling you up to get through the morning?”