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Functional Milk Protein and Greek-style Yoghurt Together Offer Healthy and Indulgent Snack Opportunities

 

Over the past five years, Greek-style yoghurt has become all the rage. In the US, Chobani – a low fat,
Greek product – has grown enormously since its launch in 2007, and, in 2012, it held a 20% value share of the yoghurt market. High-protein diets have moved away from being the province of the fitness crazed to being embraced by the mainstream consumer and are popular with those looking to maintain or lose weight or lead a healthy lifestyle. Greek-style yoghurts are perceived to be naturally high in protein and indulgent at the same time, and many manufacturers are adding Greek-style products to their lines. This is a big opportunity for whey and milk protein ingredients, which offer alternative solutions to the straining process used to produce traditional Greek yoghurt.
Whey protein and milk protein concentrate ingredients are commonly used in yoghurts, providing a range of technical benefits from fat simulation to improved viscosity. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) rise for whey protein concentrate in yoghurt was 3% in volume terms over 2006-2011 globally, and it is expected to continue to perform strongly over the forecast period. The use and labelling of protein ingredients varies depending on country, but many of the leading yoghurt brands, including Danone and Yoplait, are tapping into the Greek-style market on both sides of the Atlantic by adding protein ingredients, with strong marketing of their high protein and low fat content. Although targeted at women, these products also appeal to men because of their high protein content. In early 2013, General Mills also launched a Yoplait Pro-Force product which is aimed at teenagers.

Greek yoghurt

Arla Food Ingredients is one company tapping into this trend with its Nutrilac® functional milk proteins. The Nutrilac® solution allows manufacturers of standard yoghurt to add a Greek-style product to their production line without the need for additional equipment or technology, according to Aleksandra Dzakovic, Consumer Insights Manager at Arla Food Ingredients. Compared to the traditional straining process, production of a Greek-style product using Nutrilac® solutions requires three times less milk. “We’re seeing a lot of interest from manufacturers who are looking at the 0% and low fat solutions that Nutrilac® proteins can achieve,” said Dzakovic. Many private label manufacturers are also launching Greek-style products and with unit prices generally being lower, private label dairy products are growing in popularity with cash-strapped consumers. Top brands have faced some serious competition over recent years with the value of private label yoghurts in Western Europe increasing by US$800 million from 2007-2012, and it seems that this is where the major opportunities lie for protein ingredients companies.

Consumers in Western Europe are becoming more sophisticated; the consumption of reduced-fat yoghurt is expected to decline in the region over 2012-2017 as they move away from buying diet-specific products to taking a more holistic approach to improving their nutritional intake. A high-protein, low-fat diet is already popular amongst those looking to lose weight because of protein’s association with prolonged satiety, and whey protein is therefore increasingly moving into the mainstream market. With Greek yoghurts already perceived as being a snack that is naturally high in protein, the challenge is for brand manufacturers to create a Greek-style product that is not only healthy but also indulgent. Using milk and whey protein ingredients seems like a cost-effective and efficient way to do
this.

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