KEY INTERVIEW: FrieslandCampina Eyes Overnight Recovery as Future Platform for Dairy Proteins

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09 Jan 2017 --- FrieslandCampina Ingredients were exhibiting their latest innovations in sports nutrition at HIE 2016, Frankfurt, where protein innovations were strongly represented - for sports and weight management the global trend is to increase protein levels. 

FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Diderik Moerdijk responsible for the Performance Nutrition Segment within Marketing of FrieslandCampina DMV. Diderik Moerdijk who has been with the dairy cooperative for over five years. Moerdijk is focused on bringing value to customers by bridging nutritional know-how, expertise and consumer insights and applying that with the companies’ products for customers use.

According to Moerdijk there is a big trend towards sports nutrition and in recent years it has moved further into the mainstream. But why is this? “Mainstream consumers have embraced health and overall wellbeing, they know that exercise contributes to that,” he explains. “The trend of fitness and other active sports is increasing and people are looking to increase effectiveness of their efforts in or outside the gym. They also know that a high protein diet can provide extra support and increase the efficacy of their efforts.” 

Additionally, the increased share of women in mainstream sport and fitness has driven a large proportion of growth. “Women are more and more involved in sport and fitness which if you look back a few years ago it was mainly male dominated. Attention on daily diet has shifted too from a focus on weight management towards improving physique,” he notes. 

Moerdijk says: “There is a lot of interest towards sports nutrition and there are a lot of technical claims being made in the market which can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing for consumers. As a reaction consumers look increasingly towards ‘active’ role models, following the rationale  what works for the elites will also work for them. Although progressed from a maximum carbs centered diet, it doesn’t automatically mean current diets capture latest scientific insights,” he says. “Also internet is often used as source of information, while Google or individual bloggers don’t guarantee providing only scientifically accepted viewpoints.”   

Is anything changing in terms of labeling for sports nutrition? “In terms of regulation, sports nutrition is subject to regular food laws in EU and the US,” states Moerdijk, “In addition there are guidelines of industry bodies such as ISSN in the US and ESSNA in the EU, that perform a monitoring and escalation role. With regards to claims made, in the competitive and growing market space, companies are continuously  looking to differentiate and bring different ingredients with new-ish benefits for consumers. Protein however will remain the core of most sports nutrition given its proven and widely accepted benefits.” 

Overnight recovery concepts                    
The first concept was a vanilla protein overnight recovery drink including Excellion Calcium Caseinate S; the second one was a chocolate recovery shake containing Excellion Calcium Caseinate I. Both ingredients are ideal recovery proteins due to the sustained release of amino acids.

We have learned from research on elite athletes, however, that the importance of overnight recovery is underestimated and thus offers a complementary opportunity to increase effectiveness of training. 

At HIE FrieslandCampina DMV showcased their new “overnight recovery concepts” that allow athletes to extend their recovery period. During sleeping you aren’t feeding your body with protein but the body still has the opportunity to recover, and that’s where our overnight recovery drink can help,” he says, “for up to seven hours after consumption due to the sustained release of amino acids.”; the concepts have a high protein, low carb content and taste great. 

“We see elite athletes increasingly including it in their diets because of the benefits on their performance, and I am convinced this will drive wider adoption with mainstream consumers as ‘the next new thing’,” he announces. 

“Most consumers already know that protein directly after exercise will benefit them, and thus most performance nutrition products are aimed at this, but there are plenty more opportunities which haven’t yet been fully explored,” he adds.  

“Leading scientific research indicates that there is a window of about 48 hours after exercise in which you can still influence recovery,” says Moerdijk, “When we say ‘recovery’ we talk about a positive net balance between muscle protein synthesis (build up) and muscle protein degradation (break down). To improve, firstly you want to avoid net balance breakdown (e.g. during fastening), secondly is to repair muscle damage as result of exercise, but more importantly to promote to a better state than prior exercise, by the super compensation effect. Our bodies require amino acids available in the bloodstream to support muscle protein synthesis.”

How important is taste in sport nutrition? Nutritional benefits are nine out of ten the trigger for interest in products in this category,” explains Moerdijk, “But if the taste is not right, the consumers will not purchase the product again. We sat down with athletes of team NL, who used our product that we developed exclusively for them and one of the main comments was the appealing taste,” he notes. 

“They saw it as a reward for hardship during training. People don’t make sacrifices in the gym to later have to work hard to consume their protein product. This goes for elite athletes as for mainstream consumers: they want a nutritional product, with great taste and in a convenient product format. Sensory profiles are not the exclusive domain of flavor houses. All ingredients come into play and are interdependent. A lot can be gained by starting off with neutral tasting protein ingredients, protein being often the dominant ingredient. Our ingredients are often superior on that aspect compared to competition; milk proteins in general taste better compared to vegetable protein such as soy or pea. Also within milk protein ingredient product categories we score better compared to competition which can be objectively measured and is likely due to our milk consistency and mild processing. We work with our customers together with our Sensory department to not only develop new concepts but also on landscaping sensory analyses on geographies and product applications to see relative positions in the market place.” 

What does the future hold for FrieslandCampina DMV? “The industry continues to grow which will drive demand for protein of high quality, that can provide for a good sensory profile and can be applied in convenient product formats. But also other factors become increasingly important such as: protein amount and moment of consumption, quality consistency, absorption rates, bio-availability of amino acids, role of individual amino acids (e.g. leucine). This is not a finite space, so how and how fast we are able to translate latest scientific insights into benefits for consumers, will have a big impact going forward,” claims Moerdijk. 

“Today it’s protein for muscle protein synthesis, directly after exercise and now, before bedtime. But we are already working on and talking with our customers on which benefits we can bring tomorrow based on scientific research, that go beyond that.” 

“We regard this sector as very important because it is close to our hearts, bringing nourishment to consumers with our natural products. Therefore we will continue to invest in our forefront position in scientific nutritional research by ourselves and with our partners, and make no concessions in upholding our high quality standards, which we manage from grass to glass. We are valued for the expertise and quality we bring to our B2B customers and work together to help consumers to contribute to a healthy lifestyle and improve overall wellbeing,” Moerdijk concludes.

A video interview from HIE 2016 with Benno van Mersbergen of FrieslandCampina DMV discussing Casein Protein in Overnight Recovery can be seen here

by Elizabeth Kenward

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