Which high-protein ready to drink beverages taste the best?

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Which high-protein ready to drink beverages taste the best?

Related tags Amino acid Nutrition Protein

New research from DuPont Nutrition & Health exploring what drives liking in ready to drink high-protein beverages – a $2.7bn category in the US – revealed that products combining dairy and soy protein performed the best on taste, while 25g of protein per serving was seen as the ideal number. 

The study, utilizing a trained descriptive panel, profiled more than 65 commercial high-protein (with more than 8g protein per 237ml) beverages, and enabled DuPont to create a ‘sensory map’ of the category. Consumer panels in three US cities then evaluated 20 beverages – both commercial and DuPont prototypes – occupying unique spots on the sensory map.

Consumers perceived the ideal protein content level to be 25 grams of protein per serving, whether they consumed such beverages to support weight loss, as a supplement before or after exercise, or as a meal or snack alternative.

Taste: Soy and dairy combo performs the best

When it came to taste, six of the top seven scoring beverages in the study were formulated with blends of dairy and soy proteins, said Colleen Conley, principle scientist, sensory science, and one of the main study collaborators:

This study adds to existing data confirming the benefit of soy and dairy blends in driving better flavor in the category. All proteins, including dairy and soy, have inherent positive and negative flavor attributes. By blending them, you can create formulas that maximize their positive attributes, and minimize any negatives.”​       

Jean Heggie, marketing lead, added: “Leveraging insights from this study, we can help our customers in many ways – whether to improve the sensory performance of their current formulas, optimize a new product formulation or identify innovation opportunities to differentiate their brand.

“Blending protein sources not only improves product flavor, but it also can help manage formulation costs, as soy proteins are more cost-effective than dairy proteins, and less susceptible to supply and price volatility.”    

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA last year, ​Heggie said blending soy and dairy created a more neutral flavor, saved money (soy is cheaper than whey) and offered nutritional benefits: “Certain dairy proteins, such as whey, are quickly absorbed in the body, whereas soy is a slow release protein. So, you can get this sustained release of amino acids to the blood stream with a blend that can provide more post exercise benefits.”

Check out the infographic below to find out more about DuPont's research into protein:


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