Food and beverage manufacturers are faced with a challenge to keep up with the growing meal replacement market. As more and more consumers ditch the conventional 3 square meals a day for 4-5 smaller meals and snacks, the demand for easy, on-the-go meals are at an all-time high. Today’s consumers want something that can be eaten on the run that will keep them full until their next meal. However, with consumers also being pickier about the nutrition and naturalness of their food, manufacturers have to think carefully about how they formulate their products.
For meal replacement beverages (MRBs) especially, a lot has changed since the products were first released to the market in the early 1970s. Back then, MRBs were essentially enhanced baby formula marketed as complete nutrition in a can, and used in hospitals and senior care facilities as a source of nutrition for those who couldn’t eat solid foods. Fast-forward to today, and MRBs are being formulated and used for a wide variety of reasons, including on-the-go breakfast options, weight loss shakes, and sports nutrition. In fact, roughly 1 out of 5 U.S. consumers reported using MRBs within the past year, and for a variety of reasons, including:
- Adding more protein to their diet (34%)
- Meal supplement/replacement (20%)
- Good source of vitamins/minerals (16%)
- Weight-loss tool (15%)
- Other (15%)
Similarly, with meal replacement bars and other meal replacement foods, today’s products offer more diversity and benefits than ever before. It’s not just power bars any more; food manufacturers are using healthy, natural ingredients like fruits, nuts, whole grains, and whey protein to give consumers products that are easy to eat, healthy, and provide multiple functional benefits. Cereal bars have become a popular breakfast replacement food, for example, and protein-fortified granola bars are frequently being positioned as a convenient way to satiate hunger between meals and as a solid source of energy and nutrition for consumers who only have time for a quick snack.
With all the different formulation possibilities and different consumer demands in the meal replacement market, the biggest challenge for food and beverage manufacturers is making a product with well-rounded nutritional benefits, that also tastes great, and can be eaten on-the-go. One way that manufacturers can easily overcome these formulation hurdles is by using natural whey protein in their applications to enhance nutrition and provide numerous functional benefits. As the Innovators of Dairy-Based Food Ingredients™ Grande Custom Ingredients Group offer several natural whey protein products that can certainly help you do this.
Grande Ultra® Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
For beverage manufacturers looking to add a protein boost to their sports drinks, flavored water, and juices, Grande Ultra is the perfect solution. In addition to all of its nutritional benefits, our specially produced isolate is an industry leader in taste and turbidity. This allows you to create a drink that’s fortified with protein, while achieving a clean, neutral flavor and best beverage clarity available over a wide pH range.
Grande Primo™ Dried Yogurt & Cultured Dairy Products
Whether it’s used as a coating for snacks and nutrition bars or a base for protein-packed smoothies, Grande Primo can help you add an authentic yogurt taste to your meal replacement products, without having to worry about the hassle and perishability of fresh yogurt. Our Y100 formulation even meets the CFR for lowfat yogurt prior to drying.
Grande WPCrisp® Whey Protein Crisps
Our whey protein crisps deliver a high-quality source of whey protein and can be seasoned, coated, or mixed with other ingredients for use in nutrition bars, cereals, and other products. They’re also a great substitute for soy, corn, or rice crisps that don’t offer quite as much protein, and our 60% protein is also available in natural dark cocoa.
For more information about how our natural whey protein products can be used to add a functional and nutritional boost to your meal replacement offerings, check out our Applications Page or contact one of our food scientists today!