You build an innovation hub and invite customers and potential customers to meet you face-to-face. Additionally, you create foods with dairy ingredients that consumers halfway around the world will come to appreciate given their flavor palettes.
Just days after returning from a U.S. dairy farmer trade mission to Singapore, I had the opportunity to join Millaine Wells of WFRV TV 5 in Green Bay, Wis., to share my firsthand experiences at the Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE).
Learn more on WFRV TV 5 in this segment: Explore the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence in Singapore.
Creating Asian cuisine
Funded by U.S. dairy farmers and processors, U.S. CDE is an investment in Southeast Asia’s future and paves the way for strengthening partnerships in the region.
“We don’t just promote ingredients, we promote innovation,” said Martin Teo, USDEC technical director, Food Applications, Southeast Asia. “We want people to succeed,” he said with the “people” being U.S. dairy product customers.
With that as the backdrop, Teo gave farmers a glimpse into the future.
“We (Southeast Asians) like a crispy and crunchy cookie. Protein crisps that are made up of casein and whey proteins are very popular. One potential product is a Crunchy Protein Mocha Bar,” shared Martin, who had a host of food product prototypes on display. “It contains dairy protein, chocolate, mocha, and almonds, and it creates a winning combination. Some have suggested to us to offer a caffeine-free variant to make it kid-friendly.”
“We believe the ‘High Protein Mango Pudding’ could become popular,” shared Anoo Pothen, USDEC director, Consumer Insights, Southeast Asia. “The benefits include quality dairy protein and reduced sugar content.”
Some other concepts being developed by the CDE team include a protein water enhanced with citrus ginger turmeric. To help develop a product to the liking of Southeast Asian consumers, acidified whey protein concentrate delivers the protein while allowing the citrus-ginger-turmeric flavored protein water to hold its yellow color. Another product ideation, “Honey Lemon Protein Water,” provided flavor Asian consumers cherish, and it also delivered 19 grams of protein per serving thanks to the addition of U.S. whey protein.
In the same vein, ginseng is a popular root plant incorporated into Asian cuisines. By adding milk protein concentrate and skimmed milk powder, USDEC food specialists married the great taste of ginseng with dairy’s high protein content.
Sodium levels that have climbed to 300% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), in some cases, have also become a concern in the region. “Permeate, a high-lactose dairy ingredient, has been a great replacement for salt in Southeast Asia diets,” said Teo.
“Cheese is not an inherent part of our diet. We need to show others how to use it,” Teo added of the kingpin of U.S. dairy products and the CDE’s efforts to connect with more customers.
“One of the most impressive things I saw at the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence was how they were able to look at different ingredients and different ways to use dairy in forms that I never even thought,” said Marilyn Hershey, chair of the board of directors for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and a Pennsylvania dairy farmer. “It fits perfectly into the Singapore and Southeast Asia culture,” she said of the Center that helps educate customers about U.S. dairy ingredients and cheese and informs USDEC members about promising export growth opportunities throughout Southeast Asia.
“The most striking thing that I found at the Center for Dairy Excellence is our ability to find wide-ranging solutions for our customers,” said Missouri dairyman Alex Peterson, doubling down on the solutions the CDE can provide customers. “Whether it’s the test kitchen where we can come up with new formulations, the sensory lab to test those creations, or a space to host presentations or webinars, the CDE is a great place to connect with customers,” continued the USDEC vice chairman.
“The visibility for the U.S. Dairy Export Council is real,” said Daliah Ghazalay, USDEC regional director for Southeast Asia. “We are making good traction,” she said of the group’s work.