Glanbia launches EasyFlav for whey protein as manufacturers compete for best taste

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock/Marilyna
Photo: iStock/Marilyna

Related tags: Whey protein, Nutrition, Glanbia nutritionals

Are US consumers still in a protein frenzy? Nutrition ingredient company Glanbia Nutritionals shares some insight as it announces its latest product offering EasyFlav, marketed as a “flavor optimizer” for whey protein products.

“The whey protein market continues to show strong growth,”​ Grace Cahalane, director of incubation and flavors, R&D, at Glanbia Nutritionals​ told NutraIngredients-USA.

She attributed its growth in the US market to a few key areas: “Firstly, the sports nutrition market continues to expand and reach more mainstream consumers/ casual users through growing channels (e.g., club stores, online); second, the high protein nutritional bar market is showing rapid growth with a number of key companies/brands driving significant growth and demand for protein; and third, consumers continue to want protein in more and more formats so we keep seeing protein added to traditional food/beverage items in the grocery aisles.”

EasyFlav’s creation, a matter of taste

The team at Glanbia Nutritionals argued that whey protein products have certain “off notes,” which leads to many brands masking their products with sweeteners and flavoring. With their EasyFlav technology, Glanbia said it rids this bitter taste by “by replacing the traditional carbohydrate core with added protein and a stable flavor,” ​the company said.

EasyFlav was originally developed last year for Glanbia’s pea protein ingredient as a way to remove the nutty, bitter flavor peas have, with the aim of making it a versatile ingredient to incorporate in various applications. "Taste continues to be a problem, each protein has a unique taste which the product formulator needs to work with to mask. Whey proteins have been known to have astringent, cardboard, cabbage off-flavors, in the same way that pea protein is known to have grassy, earthy and nutty off-flavors," ​Cahalane said.

The technology is marketed to help manufacturers streamline production, “eliminating the need for separate protein and flavor solutions,” ​which Glanbia said can help save development time as well as allow manufacturers to customize and tailor their products’ flavors to meet the end consumer’s demands.

Whey protein consumption in bars, drinks, supplements

According to Cahalane, the US whey protein market is by far the largest market for Glanbia Nutritionals’ sales because “the sports nutrition and bar categories are the most mature in the US,” she​ said.

According to Euromonitor data, the volume of consumption of products with whey protein concentrate was 20,950 tons in 2015 as an ingredient, used in sports foods and supplements and are finding increased favor as protein ingredients in other food and drinks. It’s up by 1.6% from the year before, with a historic period growth from 2010 to 2015 was 12%.

“However, we are seeing high growth in demand for whey protein in several overseas markets, including Brazil, India, China and several other developing countries,”​ Cahalane added. “While overall demand in those countries is still relatively small, the high growth rate is a positive sign for the future as trends in those countries should drive continued growth.”

Competition from plant proteins?

The emergence of a plant-based diet has also led to an increased demand for plant-based proteins. The plant-based food and beverage market overall grew 3.4% to 4.9 billion​ in the year ending June 12, 2016. Is the demand for plant-based denting sales in dairy-derived proteins?

“Plant based protein is definitely experiencing rapid growth, however this appears to be driving growth in proteins as a category overall (both dairy and plant-based), rather than denting the growth of the whey protein market,”​ Cahalane said.

“The market for soy protein has been well established for a long time, and the markets for other plant based proteins – pea, rice, hemp, and others – are clearly emerging. However, overall it appears that these proteins are drawing new consumers into the market for high protein products and new usage occasions rather than taking share from the whey protein market, as there are still different nutritional benefits and flavor profiles for the various types of plant proteins relative to whey protein,”​ she added.

Sports Nutrition forum

Experts from Mintel, Bodybuilding.com, and the International Society of Sports Nutrition will discuss the science, market, and consumer clean label and transparency expectations at the upcoming NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Forum on Sept. 13. For more information and to register for free, please click HERE​.

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