Dairy trends: Asia propels growth for premium products while plant-based alternatives rise
22 Mar 2021 --- As the world continues its recovery from COVID-19, demand for dairy shows no sign of slowing down, as global consumers seek immunity-supporting, protein-rich products.
This is following an initial decline in dairy demand at the start of the pandemic, Hendrik Schulze, key account manager of dairy products and ingredients at Uelzena, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Uelzena and FrieslandCampina Ingredients spotlight Asia, in particular, for driving significant growth for traditional and premium dairy products.
Meanwhile, Cargill identifies European consumers as seeking cleaner labels and plant-based alternatives in their milk-based foods.
FoodIngredientsFirst speaks with these suppliers, as well as DSM Food Specialties and Chr. Hansen on their latest innovations to meet the world’s growing taste for dairy products positioned for wellness.
Asia’s growing dairy numbers
FrieslandCampina Ingredients reports a 0.6 percent increase in demand for dairy products last year compared to 2019.
“In particular, Asia remains one of the fastest-growing markets for us – we’re seeing increased demand from China and Southeast Asia,” says Vicky Davies, global marketing director, performance, active and medical nutrition, FrieslandCampina Ingredients.
Schulze attributes the increased demand in the region to a growing recognition that dairy products benefit health and the immune system.
“Protein-rich foods are the focus of a conscious diet. Growing purchasing power and orientation toward the habits of Western countries play a role in some export countries,” he says.
“School milk programs have been launched and government authorities in China have recommended that the population consume 300 g of milk or equivalent amounts of other dairy products daily,” he explains.
This will certainly have a strong impact on demand in the country and further increase exports from Europe to China.
Europeans seek clean nutrition
Meanwhile, Cargill names clean label as one of the most significant trends driving the dairy category in Europe.
The company recently unveiled its WavePure seaweed powder, which is a label-friendly solution that can be used to texturize certain dairy applications.
The first offering in the line, WavePure ADG, is sourced from red Gracilaria seaweed, a traditional food ingredient in the EU.
As a result, WavePure ADG does not require an E-number, explains Philippe Barey, dairy technical support leader at Cargill.
Boon for probiotics
COVID-19 has accelerated trends toward F&B that promote the immune system and the dairy industry is capitalizing on this trend through specialty ingredients.
Innova Market Insights reports that 54 percent of global consumers say that, due to COVID-19, they have spent time educating themselves on ingredients and procedures that can boost their immune system.
Thomas Skaaning, senior vice president of food cultures and enzymes at Chr. Hansen, claims that 35 percent of global consumers have reported increasing consumption of foods to boost immunity.
More specifically, 70 percent of consumers in Europe and 77 percent in the US associate probiotics with helping to boost their immune health.
The Denmark-based specialist in good bacteria recently launched three new “nu-trish Premium” cultures that feature “the world’s most-documented probiotics linked to immune and digestive health,” Bifidobacterium, BB-12 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG.
“Our launch of nu-trish Premium’s newest generation comes at the perfect moment, enabling producers to offer premium yogurts while helping to support consumers’ health,” Skaaning says.
Chr. Hansen has also seen a growing interest in health and immunity in the cheese space. Skaaning notes that major snacking brands in North America and Europe are marketing probiotics in cheese as well.
Fortified dairy increases
Dairy provides a suitable medium for functional foods and beverages, whether in drinks or on-the-go bars.
DSM research from last September found that 45.4 percent and 37.5 percent of people – primarily younger individuals – consume yogurt and milk products with added micronutrients, respectively.
The 2020 study also uncovered that 36 percent of respondents associate probiotics with supporting immune health.
In response, DSM created a lactose-free fermented yogurt drink prototype, called #StayStrong, which has potential to support consumer health, including their immunity, explains Nicolas Touillon, business director fresh dairy at DSM Food Specialties.
The prototype is developed with DSM’s Maxilact LGi lactase, DelvoFresh FV-122 yogurt culture and DelvoPro L26 Lactobacillus casei probiotic strain. It is fortified with DSM’s Quali-A, Quali-D and Quali-E vitamins.
“A new era of ingredients science”
Suppliers are also exploring dairy as a rich source of bioactives and other value-added ingredients.
FrieslandCampina Ingredients’ Biotis brand brings together its latest dairy-derived ingredients, such as lactoferrin and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).
“The applications for this portfolio are vast, meaning Biotis can be used to target a range of health areas, including gut, brain and immune health,” affirms Davies.
“We believe the launch of our new Biotis brand is the start of a new era in ingredients science.”
Plant-forward dairy alternatives
At the same time, Europeans are seeking more plant-based dairy alternatives, driving innovation in this area.
In the plant-based space, Chr. Hansen has launched FreshQ DA, comprised of carefully selected lactic acid bacteria, which can delay spoilage from yeast and mold when used in fermentation.
“The bioprotective effect gained in the fermentation using these cultures helps to protect plant-based products against spoilage and optimize shelf life to save money and reduce waste for producers and consumers alike,” details Skaaning.
DSM food specialties also recently launched its DelvoPlant range of enzymes to help producers optimize plant-based drinks’ taste, texture, sweetness and nutritional profile.
DelvoPlant GLU and DelvoPlant MAL enzymes, for example, “unlock natural sweetness.”
“Looking ahead, considering the growing world population, I think there will be space in the market for both dairy-derived and plant-based products,” says FrieslandCampina Ingredients’ Davies.
“After all, in a diet that’s both sustainable and healthy, it’s about variety, including both plants and dairy.”
By Missy Green
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