Each year, the Elmhurst, Ill.-based American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI) and Dairy Foods put the spotlight on dairy ingredient accomplishments by honoring a dairy processing member of ADPI with the Breakthrough Award for Dairy Ingredient Innovation.
Back in 2016, Arla Foods Ingredients — our 2022 Breakthrough Award for Dairy Ingredient Innovation honoree — was in the midst of developing a new dairy-based product when its research and development (R&D) team discovered that a pilot feed tank was full of an unexpected white substance. Lab tests identified the substance as pure beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) crystals. Although the R&D team solved the production problem, the team wondered if the knowledge gained could be used to commercially produce pure BLG, according to Niels Østergaard, R&D vice president for the Denmark-based company (with U.S. headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J.).
The R&D team decided to find out, starting with the “discover” step to define and evaluate the new ingredient. Together with the commercial team, R&D assessed, for example, BLG’s viability for medical and sports applications, Østergaard says.
A development phase followed. In this phase, the team set up a stable pilot production process, produced product and identified the value in applications and clinical trials. All parts of this phase were accomplished in close collaboration with a number of external partners, Østergaard notes, that also supported Arla Foods Ingredients in regulatory approvals and intellectual property protection.
Finally, the team optimized and scaled up initial production during the last stage — the deploy stage.
“Six years later, Arla Foods Ingredients was ready to launch the world’s first fully commercialized BLG product: Lacprodan BLG-100,” Østergaard says.
Range of opportunities
According to Østergaard, development of the ingredient presents a range of opportunities for manufacturers of medical nutrition and sports nutrition products.
“Consuming high-quality protein in sufficient amounts is a key nutritional need for patients and elderly people,” he says. “The high leucine content of Lacprodan BLG-100 means it can support muscle protein synthesis to minimize the loss of muscle mass and sustain physical mobility,” he adds, citing published research.
In addition, Lacprodan BLG-100 boasts a taste that’s more appealing than many other commercially available proteins, Østergaard says. And it is low in minerals such as phosphorus, which makes it suitable for patients with kidney issues.
“Lacprodan BLG-100 enables very high protein concentrations — as high as 23% — in very small ready-to-drink serving sizes,” he adds. “Its medical nutrition applications include clear ready-to-drink formats and translucent high-protein shots.”
On the sports nutrition side, the ingredient not only offers a high leucine content, but also provides 26% more essential amino acids than commercial available whey protein — and 40% more branched-chain amino acids, Østergaard notes, again citing published research.
“Easy to work with in sports nutrition applications, Lacprodan BLG-100 is ideal for clear ready-to-drink beverages and powder shakes,” he says.
Østergaard calls the ingredient the “new king of functionality” — it has a great taste, is fat-free and lactose-free, has no bitterness, boasts temperature and pH flexibility, and is clear in solution.
“Athletes and gym-goers are always searching for something more powerful to build muscle mass and enhance recovery,” he points out. “Until now, sports nutrition manufacturers have sought to meet this demand by fortifying existing products with synthetic, bitter-tasting leucine — a solution unable to match the taste profile of pure, natural BLG.”
U.S. launches expected soon
Østergaard notes that Arla Foods Ingredients is making BLG available as a pure ingredient, “enabling entirely new, more effective protein supplement products to be marketed.”
Thus far, he adds, Lacprodan BLG-100 has been very well received by Arla Foods Ingredients’ U.S. customers.
“They see potential for this new innovative ingredient to be the future gold standard for isolated whey protein,” Østergaard says.
Arla Foods Ingredients expects to see the first U.S. BLG-containing product launches this year, he notes.
“We are very honored to achieve the 2022 Breakthrough Award for Dairy Ingredient Innovation,” Østergaard adds. “It means a lot to us to achieve such an acknowledgement from the industry.”