The high-protein dairy beverage market is experiencing significant growth due to greater consumer interest in health and wellness products. Protein-rich diets contribute to satiety, appetite control, and the maintenance of lean body mass. This trend is reflected in the global market, where high-protein dairy beverages have seen an average annual growth rate of 20.8% in new product launches from 2016 to 2021, according to Innova Market Insights.

The protein beverage category includes ready-to-mix powders, ready-to-drink beverages, meal replacement beverages, and other better-for-you health and wellness options. Recognizing this growing trend, the farmer- and importer-funded Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) product research team led by Emil Nashed has published a review paper to support companies with troubleshooting, ideation, and other needs.

Our research focused on shelf-stable, high-protein, ready-to-drink beverages, particularly in the sports nutrition and better-for-you categories, which often feature “high in protein” claims. Dairy protein ingredients, valued for their functionality and quality, are the top choice for companies aiming to meet these protein claims. Cow’s milk proteins, primarily caseins and whey proteins, are the key ingredients.

This review paper serves as a quick-reference guide for the industry. For instance, if a company wants to develop a dairy beverage with 25 grams of protein per serving, this paper provides insights into the necessary ingredients and processing considerations. It also addresses quality issues and remedial measures for high-acid and low-acid high-protein, shelf-stable beverages.

The paper’s authors are affiliated with the checkoff-funded National Dairy Foods Research Center program, established in 1987 to drive innovation in dairy products. These centers offer top-tier research and development facilities and expertise in areas such as dairy proteins and processing, which is crucial for developing high-protein dairy beverages.

The checkoff has a strong research legacy, including funding platform technologies such as membrane filtration for more than three decades. Membrane filtration produces ingredients for high-protein beverages and is widely used in various other dairy product categories, such as cheese (to boost yield) and high-protein, low-sugar, or zero-sugar yogurts.

Checkoff-led research has contributed to the launch of products including fairlife, Core Power, and Darigold FIT, among others. This paper aims to help companies harness dairy proteins to create novel high-protein, shelf-stable products to support the category’s growth momentum.

We have widely shared it at conferences, generating significant industry interest and troubleshooting support for developing high-protein beverages. The category is rapidly evolving, with new product launches anticipated soon.

With support from farmers, importers, and the research center network, the DMI team leads science-based efforts to develop, apply, and disseminate technologies and processes, driving growth for the U.S. dairy industry in domestic and international markets.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
June 24, 2024
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