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Once relegated to a post-workout supplement for the most active consumers, instant protein beverages are now a staple meal replacement for consumers across all demographic categories.

How popular are sport powders like protein drinks?

According to data from Innova Market Insights, the number of new product launches in the US bearing claims of “Added Protein” or “High Source of Protein” was rather flat between 2011 and 2014. That trend was busted in 2015 when 695 new products were launched in the category, more than double the number launched the prior year.

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Sports powder launches also up globally

The explosion of the sports nutrition category isn’t isolated to the US market. In the first half of 2015, sports powders represented 59% of the global launches in the category. Additionally, while the sports nutrition category as a whole has seen a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.7% over the last five years, sports power launches saw a CAGR of 30.5%.

Interest in products containing increased protein levels also extends outside the US and, while dairy-based protein sources lead the market, interest in non-dairy sources is also growing as proteins like egg and rice gain momentum.

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Consumer demand for transparency

With broader appeal comes more interest in the ingredients used in the product and increased demands to meet specific labeling or nutritional requirements like non-GMO or high protein. For beverage formulators, this means balancing the need to maintain the positive texture attributes of the finished drink with the desire to improve the nutritional profile and, if the product also needs to be non-GMO, having fewer stabilizer options to choose from.

Designing Stabilizers for Instant Protein Beverages

In instant protein beverages, the nutritional goals are often accomplished by fortifying the product with vitamin-mineral blends, fiber, and protein selections and other nutritional ingredients. These ingredients increase particulate levels and can be perceived by consumers who commonly use the terms “gritty” or “grainy” to describe this texture defect in the finished beverage.

Since people might characterize “gritty” or “grainy” textures differently, our Gum Gurus® used our food texture terminology to identify the most important attributes of instant protein beverages. Once they had an agreed upon set of texture attributes, they were able to design a stabilizer that addressed all the desired texture characteristics of the application.

For example, the consumer term “gritty” closely correlates to the texture term “awareness of particulates,” which was identified as a critical texture attribute in sports powders. With a concrete description of the texture attribute that needed to be modified, our team used sensory testing to evaluate various non-GMO stabilizer systems. They determined that Ticaloid® Ultrasmooth NGMO Original more effectively decreased the awareness of particulates in finished protein beverages than xanthan gum alone.

Download our new white paper “Targeting Texture in Non-GMO Instant Protein Beverages” to learn more. 

To talk with a Gum Guru® about your specific texture and stability needs, call our technical support hotline at +1-800-899-3953 / +1-410-273-7300 or chat online.

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