As I strolled the aisles at the Institute of Food Technologists’ most recent food expo (IFT18: A Matter of Science + Food, which took place in July at Chicago’s McCormick Place), it didn’t take long to discern which food and beverage trends ingredient suppliers were betting on to remain top of mind with consumers. And all of them have a place in the dairy industry.


The power of protein

Protein, be it animal- or plant-based, was seemingly everywhere. That shouldn’t come as a surprise.

According to “Protein Ingredients Market by Source and Application — Global Industry Analysis and Forecast to 2025,” a new report from Las Vegas-based Crystal Market Research, the worldwide market for protein ingredients has been undergoing “an exponential proliferation” of late.

Fonterra was among the suppliers singing protein’s praises at the show.
The company’s NZMP brand showcased several concepts using its functional protein range, including a 100% whey protein shake containing 25 grams of protein. The high-protein prototype, made with the brand’s SureProtein
Vital whey protein concentrate and intended for post-exercise consumption, promised a “pleasant taste, smooth texture and low viscosity,” as well as fast protein absorption.

Protein-enhanced beverages also were a focus of Milk Specialties Global at the event. The company highlighted its PRObev heat-stable whey protein isolate line in an apple-mango drink, as well as in sparkling flavored waters. The ingredient remains clear in solution over a wide range of pH levels, opening up the protein fortification universe to see-through beverages. (A serving of flavored water was packed with 20 grams of protein.)

Outside the dairy protein arena, Blue Diamond Almonds unveiled its Blue Diamond protein powder at the show. Visitors to the company’s booth could sample the almond-based powder — billed as an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese and copper — in smoothies.

But one of the most interesting protein concepts I came across at the show didn’t incorporate added protein ingredients. Edlong took a protein-packed dairy staple — cottage cheese — and transformed it into three flavorful dips. The company blended the cottage cheese to a smooth consistency and added different combinations of its natural cheese flavors to create dips that are higher in protein and lower in fat than traditional varieties.


Shaking the sugar

Sugar reduction also took center stage at the show.

That reality jibes with consumer demand. In fact, in a December 2017 survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Label Insight, nearly half of consumers (47%) said they planned to eat less sugar or buy more “no sugar added” products in 2018.

At the show, DSM showcased a sweet-tasting yogurt concept with no added sugar whatsoever. The yogurt featured the company’s zero-calorie Avansya Reb M sweetener. DSM’s Maxilact lactase was added to bring out the milk’s natural sweetness, while the company’s Delvo Fresh cultures were included for texture.

And ADM whipped up a reduced-sugar raspberry swirl frozen treat that also contained added prebiotic fiber to promote gut health. The dessert featured ingredients from company’s sweetening solutions and taste solutions assortments.


Making it clean

How big has the clean-label trend become? So big that it now has its own conference (Global Food Forums’ Clean Label Conference). As such, many of the show’s exhibitors were showing off their all-natural or organic ingredients in concepts ranging from dairy beverages to frozen desserts.

Most impressive among the many offerings, perhaps, was an ingredient that actually had no “made for-the-show” prototype: the OxiKan CL natural antioxidant solution from Kancor Ingredients. Based on a fully decolorized, deodorized and deflavored extract of rosemary, it can extend the shelf life of many foods and beverages. The solution also impressed folks other than me: It earned Kancor Ingredients one of the three IFT Food Expo Innovation awards given out at the show.