Killing the clumps
Lumps plague the powder market. You remember them from your days of trying to mix up your chocolate milk. Well, they’re back in the plethora of powdered protein boosters on the market, few of which have much to say about the dispersal qualities of the ingredients. The products are often comarketed with shaker bottles, with the implication that the time spent shaking the thing to get an adequate amount of the formula to dissolve is part of the workout.
DuPont’s new offering, called SUPRO XT 221D Isolated Soy Protein, was formulated with a key goal in mind. It had to be mixable with a spoon, and the company quotes a nine-second window for the product to dissolve.
David Shabbagh, senior group manager for DuPont, said the company identified the mixing issue as a challenge during the development phase of the project. Many protein suppliers, especially on the vegetarian side, have taken steps to address the organoleptic properties of their products, from a taste and mouthfeel standpoint. The days of having to swallow an unappetizing mouthful of chalk to get a protein boost are pretty much gone. But the lumps have remained.
“There were some process changes to improve the agglomeration characteristics of the protein,” Shabbagh told NutraIngredients-USA.“That enables it to disperse much more rapidly in water than the typical protein. The particle size matters, especially with soy proteins, which as they disperse in water tend to form clumps which have a tendency to harden. You put some of the other soy proteins in a shaker bottle and shake it vigorously for 30 seconds and open it up and you still see some clumps. With our new ingredient, we have had consumers just mix it up with a spoon, and in our consumer research that was a big issue.”
Dispersibility = portability
Jean Heggie, a strategic marketing lead for DuPont, said that same research showed the dispersibility issue can be a make-or-break one for consumers.
“We did sensory tests where we incorporated the new ingredient in an end formula. We did validate through the research that the ease of dispersal is very important to the consumer. They felt it would make the product more portable; you could take it along in bag, for instance, and mix it up at work. It had a big effect on purchase intent,” she said.
Heggie said plant proteins are the hot end of the market these days, and a number of new players are crowding to the fore. While many of these ingredients have interesting stories to tell, and carry with them the power of novelty, Heggie said soy is a tried and true alternative, especially now as the questions of the ingredient’s potential estrogenic effects are pretty much in the past.
“Consumers are enamored with plant proteins these days and so you have a lot of different proteins being looked at. We think soy protein offers some clear advantages in the market. It’s range of functionality is unmatched. It has hundreds of clinic studies behind it proving health benefits, much more than other plant proteins can offer. I don’t think the other proteins will have the same staying power that soy has demonstrated,” she said.
Power of the mixture
Soy offers high quality protein, Shabbagh said, containing as it does all of the essential amino acids. It rates a 1.0 (the highest score) on the PDCAAS scale (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score), sharing the top rung with whey, egg and casein. Soy also has another benefit; in terms of speed of digestion it sits somewhere between whey, considered the fastest digesting protein, and casein, which is among the slowest. This opens an interesting formulation window for products that are not aiming at a vegan positioning.
“We have done some work on the blending of soy and dairy protein,” Shabbagh said. “When you blend dairy and soy you end up with the benefit of extending that window of protein absorption post workout. We have two or three published studies on that aspect and work in continuing along those lines going forward.”