Fonterra launches improved protein range for nutrition bars

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Fonterra has launched a new range of concentrated dairy proteins for the nutritional bar market which it claims solve the discolouration, texture and shelf-life issues associated with traditional proteins.

There are three ingredients in its new PowerProtein range, including a whey protein concentrate (WPC) and a milk protein concentrate (MPC), which will be marketed alongside Powercrisps, its existing, ‘rice-bubble’-type concentrated whey protein.

Fonterra has designed PowerMPC and PowerWPC to replace ingredients such as calcium caseinate, whey protein hydrolosates and total milk proteins. The company says that unlike these traditional proteins, the new ingredients have a less chewy texture and do not harden or become brown over time, thereby improving shelf-life.

WPCs are derived from by-products of cheese manufacturing, while MPCs are independent of the cheese production process. However, Fonterra would not disclose the specific technology used in the development of its PowerProtein range.

Nigel Little, Fonterra’s Global Category Manager for Physical Nutrition, told BakeryandSnacks.com: “They are a new protein protected by patents and trade secrets but we can measure moisture content, texture and how proteins perform. We have already had meetings with most of the major bar manufacturers in the US and the UK and many of them are now trialling our products.”

He said that Fonterra has long been involved in dairy protein research, particularly for the nutritional bar market, and the company’s technology has significantly progressed, leading to this latest product development.

“The problem with high protein bars is that the protein absorbs the moisture from the rest of the bar. Over their shelf life the bars get harder and harder and don’t taste as good and they can also become brown. The texture can also be chalky and powdery,” ​he said.

The PowerProtein range aims to provide a cost-competitive alternative which also provides improved functionality.

Market opportunities

The company hopes to market the new ingredients primarily to the US and European markets for sports, nutrition and weight-management bars but also sees potential for their use in mainstream bars as a way to provide extra protein while reducing fat and sugar content. It envisages that the proteins could be included in caramels and nougats to improve satiety without compromising flavour.

“The original protein bar market was aimed at sports people as it is a rapidly absorbed protein,”​ said Little. “As the bar market has matured, specifically meal replacement, the nutrition bar market has expanded, especially with demand for low-carb products. It has stalled partly because not enough has been done to improve the flavour of these bars. There is a significant opportunity to grow this market with better tasting products.”

According to Euromonitor, the global snack bar market is estimated to be worth US$8.53bn in 2008, with the energy bar sector making up $1.38bn of that.

Fonterra is the world’s largest dairy exporter, with turnover of NZ$19.5bn (approximately 9.38bn euros at today’s rate) in the 2007/08 financial year. It plans to showcase the PowerProtein range at the Health Ingredients Europe trade show in November.

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