Where’s the Beef? Formulation Development Can Breathe New Life into Old Ingredients

formulation development
Consumers have shown interest in protein drinks for the sake of better health. How can food and beverage companies utilize formulation development to meet the demand for improved nutrition?
Image source: Flickr CC user Mike Mozart

Conventional wisdom says that Americans get more than enough protein in our diets. In fact, we’re often told that we consume too much protein. Recent studies, however, have shown us otherwise. Evidence suggests that we need to increase our protein intake for optimal health. The benefits provided by greater protein intake include improved muscle function and mobility as well as potentially preventing and treating chronic diseases.1 In addition to the possible benefits of boosting heart and digestive health, more protein also promotes satiety, which aids in weight maintenance. Could adding more protein to our diet help our ongoing battle against obesity?

Growing up, I faced a constant barrage of messages advising me to cut back on meat and to eat more vegetables, so hearing that protein nutrients are now the hottest dietary trend is a bit of a surprise! Experts say that 46% of grocery shoppers look for beverages with health benefits and of that number, 69% consider increased protein important.2 Things have certainly changed. What’s driving this trend is actually a combination of factors. Today’s consumers are more engaged with their health than ever. Many of them believe that nutritious foods and beverages can be used as a means of preventive medicine. Speaking for myself, that’s certainly the message I get from my physician.

These trends aren’t limited to a certain demographic either. Millennials are looking for healthy snacks that they can eat more frequently. Baby Boomers want food and beverages that support healthy aging and can lower the risk of age-related ailments and diseases.3 The ultimate goals may be different between the two consumer bases, but they’re not mutually exclusive. A healthy protein beverage that Millennials might use to replace a meal can also promote healthy aging for Baby Boomers.

Companies Can Use Formulation Development to Meet Demands for Nutritious Food and Beverage Products

What a change from the days when we needed to hide nutritional benefits because they were associated with bad-tasting food. But before companies jump on the bandwagon, there are a few things they must take into account. From a formulation development perspective, they must look at:

  • Physiochemical properties: How stable is the protein of interest? Does it interact with other ingredients?
  • Price: Any protein ingredient that a company incorporates into their products must come at a reasonable price per pound. Otherwise, it becomes cost-prohibitive because consumers won’t be willing to bear the resulting price hike. Buyers are willing to pay a little extra for perceived health benefits, but not too much extra.
  • Nutritional aspects: Does it provide the health benefits consumers desire? Is there a unique and interesting property that companies can highlight and market?

In addition, they must also consider it from the consumer’s point of view. Does it taste good? What about the texture? I’m personally more sensitive to taste, but many of my friends have passed up on what I consider to be delicious food products due to texture. When developing new formulations, companies need to balance these factors to the best of their ability in order to reach the widest demographic possible.

One of the things that companies can keep in mind during the formulation development process is the versatility of a protein ingredient. Let’s look at soybeans as an example. Soybeans are the leading global ingredient for plant-based protein and this honor is in no small part due to the fact that it has over 90 specialized isolates that can be used in various meat analogs. When pursuing dairy-based proteins like whey or casein, firms can learn from the soybean’s success and use it as a model. And while whey and casein are currently the popular proteins of choice, that isn’t to say there aren’t other sources currently in the pipeline. Duckweed, coconuts and even insects are being studied as potential sources of protein to feed the growing health demand. And while I can’t say I’m thrilled by the idea of insect-based protein, I am excited by the idea of having so many options.

The BIOVIA Formulation Development Solution for CPG is an integrated set of tools that can optimize your organization’s overall laboratory efficiency, a trait that grows increasingly important in today’s highly competitive CPG food and beverage market. With its digital management tools, collaborators can share past information and experimental data, thereby minimizing needless duplication. Automated workflows reduce process bottlenecks and better manage experimental status, boosting productivity. If your food and beverage company is interested in pursuing exciting opportunities in today’s burgeoning health and nutritional food and beverage market, then please contact us today to learn more about the BIOVIA Formulation Development Solution.

  1. “Milk Proteins: Packing a Powerful Nutritional Punch,” March 2013, http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030413p26.shtml
  2. “Even Old-Fashioned Proteins Have More Functional Futures,” January 18, 2016, http://www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2016/proteins-functional-futures/
  3. “‘Protein is the hottest functional food ingredient trend in the United States’: Packaged Facts,” December 23, 2014, http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/Protein-is-the-hottest-functional-food-ingredient-trend-in-the-United-States-Packaged-Facts

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