Snacking Reimagined: US Dairy Proteins and Permeates Poised to Inspire Innovation in the New Year

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

The new year will bring new challenges in satisfying consumers looking for adventurous flavours. By Kristi Saitama, Vice President And Team Lead—Southeast Asia, U.S. Dairy Export Council


Innova Market Insights says the connected world has led consumers of all ages to become more knowledgeable of other cultures, contributing to a 35 percent growth in “discovery” claims globally, in comparison to 2017 and 2016. As consumers move out of their comfort zones, there is a focus on exploring bolder flavours and multisensory food experiences. The same Innova report showed that the industry has seen a 17 percent growth in new food and beverage launches with “ethnic” flavours. This indicates that how consumers are exploring these flavours is changing as well.

Historically, a snack was often defined as a smaller portion of food or drink eaten between regular meals.  Given the pace of busier lives, many consumers have shifted away from planned dining occasions to just-in-time meal planning which includes more convenience foods and meal delivery options. These shifts in behaviour have created new opportunities in the snacking category—snacks to be consumed as a meal, and for mini-meals to become snacks.

These blurred lines have been a central focus of innovation across all food and beverage categories, with 10 percent average annual growth of global food and beverage launches with a snacking claim over the past five years. Snacks are no longer just junk food of low nutritional value. They can also be a key source of nutrients as consumers look for on-the-go solutions that help achieve health and wellness goals.

US dairy ingredients are uniquely positioned to help Southeast Asia’s food and beverage manufacturers seize opportunities in this space, as they are not only functional and nutritious, but versatile enough to bring creative and tasteful food solutions that consumers desire—offering formulators opportunities to innovate and create convenient applications that highlight local flavours.

Two dairy ingredients in particular—US whey protein and permeate—are poised for continued growth.


Whey Protein

New food and beverage product launches around the world containing whey protein reached a new record, up 6.6 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, according to an analysis of data from the Innova Market Insights database.

At a regional level, between 2012 to 2017, food and beverages tracked with whey protein ingredients in Southeast Asia showed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 16 percent. The number of new product launches in 2017 more than doubled that of 2012’s.

Sports nutrition continues to be the leading category for global whey protein products, but the category saw diversification in applications as new products spanned from pizza with fortified crust to oatmeal.  Sports and fitness-minded consumers have embraced the clean label and health advantages of incorporating more protein into their diets, driving formulators to deliver protein boosts throughout the day beyond the traditional bar—new snacks range from chips and dips and popcorns to protein-coated almonds.



Permeate is gaining popularity as a cost-effective, mineral-rich ingredient that has both flavour-enhancing and sodium-reducing properties. According to data from Innova Market Insights, the number of global food and beverage new product launches tracked with permeate is on the rise, with the number of new products launches tracked globally in 2017 exceeding the prior 2016 record by over 90 additional products.

In Southeast Asia, new product launches with permeate grew at a CAGR of 15.5 percent from 2012 to 2017. As food and beverage manufacturers innovate with permeate’s salty flavour enhancement characteristics, products have expanded beyond traditional applications such as baked goods and hot drinks to more usage in savoury snacks and iced coffee beverages.


Product Development In The Region

In 2018, the US Dairy Export Council launched a collaborative partnership with Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation and Resource Centre to spur new food and beverage product innovations tailored for the Southeast Asian market. Combining US dairy ingredients with local flavours presents a way to capitalise on these global trends, but through a lens of local taste profiles and consumer habits.

New Asia-friendly concepts that have been developed include pandan and gula melaka coconut cookies and cakes made with US permeate.

Since US permeate products can enhance the flavour and appearance of snacks, a recent focus has been on the development of regionally-friendly seasonings like chicken and curry flavours that can be applied to a variety of applications from instant noodles and rice crackers to cookies.

US dairy proteins also work wonderfully in Southeast Asia-friendly applications, such as a black sesame high protein dessert containing both US milk protein and whey protein concentrates that features the sweet, nutty flavour of black sesame with boosted protein content (35.8 g protein per 100 g serving size).

Consistent supply availability is a key consideration for buyers and manufacturers when selecting and sourcing ingredients. As the world’s largest single-country producer of cow’s milk, the source for whey and milk ingredients, the US dairy industry is well equipped to reliably deliver nutritious and functional dairy ingredients specific to Asia’s needs, backed by rigorous quality assurance.

As Asian consumers continue to seek nutritionally advantageous, natural products with a local twist, brands that embrace a ‘glocal’ approach to partnership and innovation will be best placed to capitalise the opportunity to delight adventurous consumers.



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