The newly launched ingredient, intended for sports drinks and energy bars, is promised to deliver 10 per cent more protein with less fat, sugar and carbohydrates than similar protein products.
Fonterra lead technologist Neil Fraser said that was because, in what he believed was world first, their product was made using lactic casein whey instead of the standard cheese whey.
Whey is a byproduct of cheese manufacture. It’s the liquid left over after milk has been curdled and strained. Lactic casein is made using lactic acid to extract protein from milk and its whey is a similar byproduct of the process. While cheese begins with whole milk, Lactic casein begins with skim milk.
Fraser said the sports nutrition market was rapidly growing as people became more health conscious and an aging population looked for ways to maintain muscle-mass.
“As the awareness of the benefits of protein goes more mainstream, sports nutrition is no longer just for exercise fanatics.”
Protein is an essential part of human diet. It’s vital for growth and maintenance of every cell in the body, especially in muscles.
“Proteins are believed to support athletic performance, but are also important for healthy ageing, especially when it comes to maintaining muscle strength and function as we get older,” Fraser said.
Dave Elgar, one of the lead researchers of the product, said the difference from the standard cheese whey improved the product’s taste and made it clearer, important considerations for beverages.
The new process also opened up another source for protein ingredients, which gave New Zealand a competitive edge in the market, Elgar said.
New Zealand has some of the few lactic casein plants in the world, so for most of Fonterra’s competitors, cheese whey is the only way they can make the protein products.
“That gives us the critical mass needed to meet some pretty big demand for some major beverage companies.”