Research shows whey protein isolates can provide a sense of satiety, and Fonterra is aggressively marketing them in this new application. Kellogg in 2006 stretched its Special K franchise with Special K2O Protein Waters, which delivered 5g of protein per 16-oz. bottle with 50 calories. The company followed with Special K20 protein water mixes (in stick packets), but both products apparently were dropped last year. (Fonterra says it did not provide the protein for Special K2O Protein Waters.)
Also using whey protein is General Mills' Yoplait "Smoothie in a Bag' – which also requires consumers to add a generous amount of milk to make these smoothies at home.
A hot trend in all beverage formulations, and dairy is no exception, is lowering calories, often by replacing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup with low- to no-calorie sweeteners. But many high-intensity sweeteners can be tricky to employ without having bitter or off-flavor notes and an aftertaste. To serve the growing demand for making these sweeteners viable in delicate beverage formulas, careful balance is required.
To that end, companies such as Gold Coast Ingredients Inc. (www.goldcoastinc.com) Commerce, Calif., have developed a new generation of masking agents compounded to help mask the "sharpness' of these sweeteners. Michele Trent, corporate sales manager for Gold Coast, stresses that the appropriate masking agent must also be successfully usable in soy, whey and energy beverages. The company provides an extensive line of masking agents as well as natural, organic and kosher flavors.
New dairy formulations also are dressing up traditionally dairy-free nutritious drinks to make them either more flavorful or more nutritious. "Milk flavors and masking flavors are commonly used in soy-based beverages to improve consumer acceptance by masking ‘beany' notes and adding dairy attributes, such as are in cream or fresh milk,' says Anne Druschitz, certified research chef for Edlong Dairy Flavors Inc. (www.edlong.com), Elk Grove Village, Ill.
"Dairy flavors can impart creaminess, richness and indulgent profiles in water-soluble or reduced-fat beverages, or mask bitterness or undesirable flavor attributes in beverages fortified with vitamins, minerals or other nutraceutical ingredients,' she adds.
Citing specific applications of dairy flavors for beverage enhancement, Druschitz continues, "Flavors can make beverage seem more indulgent while minimally impacting fat and sugar. For example, vanilla-flavored milk can be transformed into vanilla-caramel, and chocolate-flavored milk is [transformed into] dark chocolate truffle. Cream flavors can be added to milk-based drinks and flavored coffees to add richness. And yogurt flavor can be added to frozen fruit beverages and smoothies to add a depth that is appealing to adults; while vanilla and sweet cream flavors in the same products will make them irresistible to kids.'
With all the growth in sweeteners and nutraceuticals for beverage development, the classic flavors and colors are rising in popularity. Surveys of manufacturers are showing a growth spurt for chocolate, vanilla, mocha and fruit flavors.
D.D. Williamson (www.ddwilliamson.com), Louisville, Ky., combined its expertise in caramel colors with the increasing demand for clean labels and organic/natural ingredient forms to create a caramelized sugar flavor. The non-GMO flavor is unique in that it's acid-stable (phosphoric and citric) and also adds desired incidental coloring properties.
Hitting just about all of the current trends, California Natural Products, Lathrop, Calif., enters the multi-functional, non-dairy beverage market this month with its own branded CalNaturale Svelte (www.sveltebrand.com), "a natural alternative to energy, protein and meal replacement beverages.' In addition to the health target, it comes in the top three flavors cited above, chocolate, French vanilla and cappuccino, as well as spiced chai. It's gluten-free and contains 16g of protein from organic soymilk, and is sweetened with a low-sugar blend of stevia, organic complex carbohydrates, including rice syrup solids and inulin. It's also a high-fiber product, providing a third of the recommended daily value of fiber per serving and is available.