Providing a complete protein is one of the many qualities that makes dairy indispensable. These high-quality proteins that function across broad applications make dairy ingredients attractive to a wide audience. This is important as the demand for high-protein products continues to grow and protein inclusion in products becomes an expectation. Now brands are striving for robust claims to satisfy their protein-hungry customers.

In 2016, 64% of American adults proactively tried to consume more protein. The remaining 36% either felt they consumed enough protein or were unaware of the recommended amounts. In fact, 4 in 10 believe additional protein is unnecessary, but foods frequently consumed for breakfast fall short of the 20 to 30 grams per meal that is recommended. The good news is that with the variety of protein applications available for all-day consumption, attaining this recommended amount is easily possible.

In terms of dollar sales, healthy snacks are the largest dollar categories for products with a protein claim. Hot cereal, frozen appetizers/pizza and specialty grains were the fastest-growing segments. Brands are adding protein to these applications from a range of sources, but flavor, nutrition and functionality should be considered in selecting the protein source.


The case for dairy proteins

Researchers at the University of Illinois are determining the most effective way of evaluating protein quality by comparing the results of two measuring methods: the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) and the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS). PDCAAS is the existing official method in the United States, and the DIAAS method has been recently recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization to replace PDCAAS. The study scored eight proteins, which included both plant and animal sources.

The results indicate that when DIAAS is used, the dairy proteins tested can be considered “excellent/high” quality for people 6 months of age and older — ranking higher than soybeans, peas and wheat — and that DIAAS is a more accurate measurement. Unlike PDCAAS, DIAAS scores protein quality based on standardized ideal digestibility of crude protein and amino acids which is closer to how humans process nutrients. A key takeaway is that dairy proteins receive the highest digestibility score no matter the measurement used.

Dairy proteins are responsibly produced and complete sources of protein. They contain all the essential and nonessential amino acids the body needs, including branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which stimulate muscle protein synthesis by bypassing the liver and going straight to the muscle. High-quality dairy proteins can assist in maintaining a healthy weight, building more lean muscle, enhancing exercise recovery and maintaining muscle mass as one ages.

The U.S. Dairy Export Council predicts that the global whey trade will grow 4.6% annually through 2021. Also, the number of globally tracked whey protein-containing new product launches continues to rise, reaching nearly 6,000 products in 2015. 


Protein-based foods for everyone 

The “healthy actives” segment represents the largest consumer category for protein-enriched products.  Their busy lifestyles call for convenient and easy-to-prepare products, and the number of global food and drink launches with on-the-go claims increased by 54% between September 2010-August 2011 and September 2015-August 2016. 

They also want calming products that reduce stress. In the United States, 56% of women and 46% of men say stress is a health issue that concerns them. One of the latest USDEC prototypes, featured at the Institute of Food Technologies 2017 Expo, is a milk and honey beverage that features 20 grams of protein to help unwind at the end of a day or after a workout.

As the “healthy actives” look to ease stress, keep an eye on consumers 65 years and older — the number of these individuals is expected to triple globally from 530 million in 2010 to more than 1.5 billion in 2050. In a survey of adults aged 50-plus, nearly 73% knew adults naturally lose muscle with age, and 28% had already noticed some loss. Dairy proteins can help with muscle health. Sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and function, can be slowed with the consumption of dairy proteins because BCAAs activate muscle protein synthesis.

The quality of U.S. dairy proteins offers peace of mind. By incorporating dairy proteins, food and beverage processors can provide high-protein products to consumers of all ages. Visit to learn more about the benefits of U.S. dairy proteins and how collaboration with the U.S. dairy industry can help your business. Learn more about the consumer engagement campaign that is spreading the love for all things Undeniable Dairy.