Much has changed since the first more or less appealing health food products appeared in specialist outlets. Consumers have long since discarded products that promised health without any consideration for taste and texture. And, today, healthier foods focused on sensory enjoyment and convenience are widely available in mainstream supermarkets.
Arla Foods Ingredients is now working with international food manufacturers to take the market for healthier food to the next level – developing appetising foods and beverages that target specific age, gender and lifestyle-related needs.
The company’s expertise within functional and nutritional milk-based proteins offers vast potential for product differentiation.
Carsten Valentin, senior director for functional milk proteins explains: “Our knowledge of the many components of milk protein puts us in a strong position to develop customer solutions that improve the sensory quality and shelf life of food products and, in many cases, reduce costs,“But we can do more than that. Combinations of our functional milk proteins and speciality proteins with documented health benefits answer the growing demand for foods that satisfy individual health requirements.”
Beyond ‘better for you’
Until very recent times, the health innovations of food manufacturers have largely centred on foods that are low in fat, sugar and calories. Here, Arla Foods Ingredients’ functional milk proteins have demonstrated high-level performance in restoring the sensory qualities of such ‘better for you’ products.
In the meantime, the ongoing discovery and commercialisation of speciality proteins for clinical nutrition, sports nutrition, infant health and cognitive performance have created a whole new wave of opportunity for the large, mainstream segment.
“Clinical research indicates that certain proteins in milk whey play a specific bioactive role in the human diet – such as in supporting sports performance, enhancing memory and improving gastrointestinal health,” says Anders Steen Jørgensen, senior director for nutrition. “So, when customers come to us looking for a natural dairy protein, we can propose solutions that both enhance sensory quality and target particular nutritional needs related to age, gender and lifestyle.”
Beverages for teens
Jørgensen takes one example related to teenage nutrition – the typically high consumption of carbonated soft drinks versus the low consumption of milk. “Soft drinks are about sugar and lifestyle, while healthy milk is seen as being old-fashioned and dull. By adding the right whey protein, it is possible to combine all needs in healthier beverages that are clear, refreshing and high in teenager appeal.”
To demonstrate more of the value-added opportunities using functional and nutritional proteins, cross-organisational teams at Arla Foods Ingredients are currently preparing a series of inspirational application concepts. The first will be published on this website later this year.