It's time to put whey and casein back together, exec says

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Milk

Cutting milk proteins apart has been all the rage in recent years. But Benoit Turpin of Milk Specialities Global said the market is now starting to come around to the idea that Mother Nature did a pretty good job with the original protein and using it in its whole form makes a lot of sense.

Turpin, who is the company’s vice president of sales, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Institute of Food Technologists’ trade show in Chicago. Turpin spoke about the company’s new focused protein ingredients for bars that up the protein content while maintaining pliability and increasing shelf life. He also gave his view of the protein market as it relates to sports nutrition.

Over recent decades dairy companies have created an entire industry by deconstructing milk. Shipping liquid milk long distances is of course a non starter, and even milk powder is a relatively low value product to ship in bulk. There has even been a government-industry partnership—Ireland’s milk mining initiative—devoted to the process. So producers like Glanbia, Fonterra and Friesland Campina have sought ways to derive higher value ingredients and finished products from milk as a way to reach new markets and drive profits.  

Putting whey and casein back together

Historically, one of the first of these type of products was cheese, with its attendant waste product whey.  Whey, once a low value commodity that just a couple of decades ago was more of a burden than a blessing, subsequently became the source of an in demand, high value protein subject to shortages that was the foundation of the sports nutrition industry because of its proven rapid digestibility.

Casein, other side of the milk protein coin, showed a slower growth curve.  This was in part because the protein must be fractionated from whole milk protein, and thus is a diversion from other uses rather than the process of improving the value of a waste stream, as is the case with whey.  It is also because of the digestion profile of the protein, in which it tends to clump or gel in stomach acids and remains mostly inaccessible to enzymes and only digests later in the less acidic environment of the small intestine (whey, on the other hand, remains open in long strands in the stomach that are easily snipped apart).  The ‘slow’ side of the protein absorption coin was slow to get going in the sports nutrition field, and only recently has begun to gain traction with notions of satiety boosted by specific proteins.

Benoit said this story is now coming full circle. 

“The beauty of milk protein is it is what comes straight from the milk,”​ Turpin said. “It’s the perfect combination.  You have a naturally occurring, slow digesting protein and the whey protein, which is a quick uptick, right off the bat digestion process.”

Turpin said a big application for these proteins is in ready-to-drink beverages.  To better serve that market the company has come up with a 90% lactose free milk protein isolate, as well as an organic version as well.  The ingredients are also hormone free and non GMO, Turpin said.

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