Carbonated High-Protein Drinks Possible with Whey Protein Isolate: Natural Products Expo West Report

March 21, 2018

At the March trade show, Milk Specialties Global described how its ProBev heat-stable whey protein isolate enabled the creation of what it said is one of the market’s first sparkling protein waters.

At March’s Natural Products Expo West trade show, dairy ingredients supplier Milk Specialties Global (Eden Prairie, MN) described how its ProBev heat-stable whey protein isolate enabled the creation of what it said is one of the market’s first high-protein carbonated drinks. The product is called Fizzique, a sparkling protein water. During the show, the supplier distributed samples of the beverage’s newest flavors, Tropical Limon and Strawberry Watermelon. The beverage contains 20 g of ProBev whey protein.

“Fizzique, made with ProBev, is a game changer because it is one of the first carbonated high-protein drinks in the market,” said Michael Hiron, vice president of sales, human nutrition ingredients, Milk Specialties Global. “In addition to that, the taste is clean, with little to no astringency thanks to ProBev’s special processing.”

ProBev, which utilizes a proprietary filtration process, helped formulators overcome some notable challenges specifically related to the beverage’s carbonation. “A few challenges were faced when creating this product,” Hiron said. “First, proteins are hard to rehydrate at a high level because they will create a foam. Non-rehydrated proteins are not stable and will not create a clear product. The carbonated portion of the beverage is obtained by the addition of CO2, and that, too, creates foam with protein if not formulated correctly. Milk Specialties Global provided the solution by introducing the first-ever liquid protein that is fully hydrated, hence the reduced foaming during processing, that is also functional when CO2 is added.”

Beverages like Fizzique exemplify how high-protein formulating is expanding to mainstream, everyday beverages instead of being confined just to sports nutrition. This trend will continue to push suppliers to develop high-protein ingredients that can withstand challenging formulating conditions, Hiron said. “Consumers are looking for unique and convenient ways to consume more protein-and not just in a drink or bar form, but in applications such as ice cream, oatmeal, cookies, etc.,” he said. “The consumption of protein is shifting from the ‘gym rats/ elite athletes’ wanting drinks packed with 30+ grams of protein per serving to everyday consumers wanting 10-15 g of protein per serving. For this type of consumer, flavor and texture are key.” As for finished products, he said he’s seen an increase in the launch of protein-focused snacks for children, such as bars and yogurt.

Hiron said the goal of ingredient suppliers like Milk Specialties is to provide formulators with high-protein ingredients that will work in a wide range of applications, without requiring the use of additives-something that’s easier said than done. “Formulating with protein is very difficult, as it changes and behaves differently depending on the environment and processing condition that is used,” he said. “Formulators typically use stabilizers and additives to cope with challenges. Ingredient innovators and suppliers like Milk Specialties Global are focusing more on making protein highly functional for particular applications so formulators do not have to use additives. In this way, a company can create clean-label and nutritious products in a desired delivery format.”

He said the protein beverages market is very dynamic right now, especially protein water. “Not long ago, milkshake types of protein drinks were predominantly on the shelves, and now we see refreshing clear protein waters gaining popularity. This may be due to formulators recognizing that there is a shift in how consumers want to consume protein. We believe the protein drink category will continue to grow as formulators create new, high-protein drinks that meet the needs of consumers on all spectrums, from elite athletes to the soccer moms wanting to give a protein drink to their little athlete.”