Having transparency about the list of ingredients that make up many popular food items is increasingly driving purchasing decisions, and concerns about overall health are causing consumers to take more interest in nutrition labels.
And what do they want to find? Food ingredients they recognize and can pronounce.
How can food manufacturers improve nutrition and maintain clean labels? All-natural whey protein concentrate in its various forms is an ideal solution for everything from soups, sauces and spreads to baked goods, frozen novelties and even sports drinks. It’s a nutritious dairy product that contains all nine essential amino acids with no artificial flavors and colors.
Read on to understand the many challenges food formulators face and how whey protein can help overcome them.
The Clean Label Challenge
Coupled with the staying power of the clean label movement, the negative perception associated with using thickening agents and gums in processed foods is causing food manufacturers and consumers alike to seek alternatives. Gelling agents such as carrageenan, agar and others are among the concerns, and they’re commonly found in dressings, frozen desserts, cream cheese, frosting, dips, spreads, sauces and cream-based soups.
While some thickening agents allow for food manufacturers to promote their products as “natural,” the ways in which those agents are processed leaves many questioning their clean-label product claims, and they have yet to become mainstream as recognizable ingredients to most consumers.
RELATED: How Whey Protein Helps Manufacturers Clean Up Labels
The challenge for many food manufacturers is reformulating their products to include truly natural ingredient alternatives without compromising the viscosity, mouthfeel and taste their loyal consumers have come to expect. Meeting these demands while also maintaining a sustainable profit margin only adds to the dilemma. And most natural thickeners and emulsifiers such as eggs, cream, oil and butter are costly, require special handling, have limited shelf lives and, of course, come with much higher fat contents.
Controlled Testing Reveals a Natural Solution
Grande Bravo functional whey protein is a recognized ingredient for most consumers because of its health benefits, and it can be promoted as an all-natural texture modifier. However, not all whey protein ingredients are created equal.
Controlled side-by-side testing shows that using Grande Bravo® functional whey protein versus a common commodity whey protein concentrate provides the superior functionality and water-holding capabilities that food manufacturers need.
Grande Bravo can be used to reduce or replace artificial or highly processed thickening agents and offers a rare combination of benefits. Soups, sauces, dips, desserts, frozen entrees and other popular applications were reformulated using Grande Bravo, and the results revealed fewer calories and fat, reduced need for high-cost ingredients, and maintained or improved flavor and viscosity.
As an example, Grande Bravo had 28% less fat than regular cream cheese in a cheesecake application and also had superior appearance and texture than the high-fat version.
Likewise, another whey ingredient, Grande Gusto®, improves nutrition by replacing 20% to 50% of the cheese in cheesy sauces & soups. Achieving the distinct umami flavor and velvety mouthfeel of melted cheese isn’t easy. But in a controlled study pitting Grande Gusto against American cheese in a macaroni and cheese application, Grande Gusto scored higher for taste and texture yet reduced fat by 25% and sodium and calories by 10% overall.
Additional benefits of formulating with whey proteins include cost savings, a long shelf life without the need for refrigeration, a strict chain of custody, superior functionality, a simplified supply chain and more.
Staying on the leading edge of the clean product labeling trend is important for food manufacturers that want to increase market share and attract a growing segment of consumers. Check out our Guide to Creamy Applications below for more insights into using whey protein in your product development. If you’re ready to explore how Grande Bravo or Grande Gusto can enhance your products and offer cost savings, reach out to us. Our team of experienced food scientists will work closely with you to develop an ideal solution.