There is a large (and growing) body of published nutrition research studies that affirm dairy protein’s popular and proven benefits, including weight management support, muscle health maintenance in aging and post-exercise recovery enhancement. As awareness of these benefits increases, so does demand for high-quality protein in each meal or snack.
In this era of increased focus on protein, more fortified food options exist than ever before. The rapid growth of global food and beverage product launches with protein claims has created an opportunity for a wide range of new protein applications. In a crowded market, finding proteins that consistently deliver on multiple attributes is important.
U.S. dairy proteins are uniquely able to deliver multiple desirable attributes in a variety of foods and beverages not just for athletes, but also for weight- and health-conscious consumers, active adults and seniors.
What consumers want
One important consumer cue for identifying fresh and natural foods is a short list of recognizable ingredients. Dairy-based ingredients and products provide a source of good nutrition and are less processed than many alternatives.
In addition to clean labels, consumers also look for authentic great-tasting foods. Because the neutral flavor of U.S. dairy proteins doesn’t interfere with the flavor of foods to which they are added, they are uniquely positioned to add nutrition to foods that aren’t naturally high in protein.
Technological advancements driven by consistent investments in research and development have enabled the United States to expand its capacity for producing these value-added dairy proteins. U.S. suppliers have become increasingly adept in production of dairy proteins designed to meet varying specifications, including protein level and functional properties.
Entrees, soups, sauces and sides
For generations, consumers have turned to real milk, cheese and cream as fundamental ingredients for entrees, soups, sauces and sides. The need for tasty, nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals has intensified in recent years due to our hectic on-the-go lifestyles.
U.S. dairy proteins contribute water binding and mouthfeel, which makes them an ideal match for high-protein meal solutions. Milk and whey proteins can be added to soup or sauce formulations to provide nutritional enhancement, offering a neutral flavor and smooth texture.
Whey protein is a useful ingredient in pasta and noodles (both prepared and plain) because it provides essential high-quality protein that is easily digestible. Whey protein can be easily incorporated into soup, oatmeal or pudding formulations, offering easy and convenient opportunities to increase protein consumption throughout the day for consumers.
Snacks and desserts
Snack formulators count on dairy ingredients to provide nutrition and functional benefits that contribute to the consumer’s overall health-halo perception. U.S. dairy ingredients such as milk protein and whey protein concentrates and isolates can help formulators improve appearance, flavor, nutrition, shelf life and texture of snacks and desserts.
In bakery applications, dairy proteins provide multiple functionalities such as water binding, egg and fat replacement, nutritional enhancement and shelf-life extension. Possible formulations range from sweet applications such as brownies, cakes and cookies to savory applications such as soft pretzels, crackers and beyond.
Frozen desserts aren’t off-limits — consumers are looking for healthier options in this category, too. While milk and cream are typically used in ice cream and frozen desserts, additional fortification with dairy protein ingredients can boost nutrition to create consumer appeal. Dairy proteins also contribute foaming and whipping properties.
Unmatched functionality and versatility
U.S. dairy proteins are not only functional and nutritious, but also versatile enough to bring creative and tasteful food solutions that address consumers’ demands. Visit ThinkUSAdairy.org for more information about the functional properties and for ideas for applications and prototype formulations using U.S. dairy products and ingredients.