Where there’s a will…iced coffee concept makes whey protein cool

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers want more high quality protein in their day-to-day diet, and iced coffee consumption has exploded in the last few years, says Arla on its concept combination. ©iStock/JoBuM
Consumers want more high quality protein in their day-to-day diet, and iced coffee consumption has exploded in the last few years, says Arla on its concept combination. ©iStock/JoBuM
Arla Foods Ingredients has developed an on-trend whey protein iced coffee concept that it is confident will be “on the market and available to consumers very soon”, but can it dispel negative perceptions around whey protein drinks? 

A whey protein iced coffee drink that can make EU-backed claims around muscle building, bone strengthening and brain health is the latest product concept to emerge from Arla Foods Ingredients’ innovation pipeline. 

Pitched as a concept for “busy urban consumers”​, the drink delivers 20 g of protein from its whey ingredient Lacprodan DI-7017 per 350 ml serving, enabling it to carry EU-approved claims such as “effectively helps build and maintain muscle mass and function”​ and “helps reduce body fat mass”​. 

The drink is also a source of calcium and phosphorus through the inclusion of Capolac milk minerals, allowing for the use of claims around muscle function, bone health and neurotransmission. “Helps maintain bone mass and strength”​ is one example of an applicable claim. 

A caffeine shot similar to that of one to two cups of espresso is delivered via its coffee bean content. 

Hot trends

Peter Schouw Andersen, head of science and sales development at the Danish dairy ingredients firm, said the company expected the concept to be a success because it taps into two market ‘mega-trends’.​ 

“Firstly, consumers are wanting to get more high quality protein into their day-to-day diet, and secondly, ice coffee consumption has simply exploded in the last few years globally,” ​he told us. 

caffeine coffee alert awake sleep health iStock.com ArtTim
©iStock/ArtTim

Arla cited data from Innova Market Insights, which found the number of newly-launched ready-to-drink (RTD) iced coffee products grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4% between 2012 and 2015. During the same period, the number of new beverages launched with a high protein claim increased at a CAGR of 34%. 

Euromonitor senior beverages analyst Virginia Lee echoed this, saying RTD coffee and protein drinks are major trends in the western world particularly in the UK and US. 

“RTD coffee has been performing in many parts of western Europe, registering 20% value growth in the UK in 2015,”​ she said. 

She said RTD coffee sales are expected to show good growth over the 2015-2020 period, with a projected CAGR of 9% in the US and 13% in the UK. 

Global sales of RTD sports protein products are tipped to grow in parallel - by a projected 8% (CAGR) during the period 2015-2020. 

“Protein drinks continue to grow in popularity as most consumers view protein in a favourable light as a way to provide satiety and provide nutrition…By combining the energy boost of coffee and the health benefits of protein, RTD protein-enhanced coffees are likely to do well over the 2015-2020 period,” ​she said. 

protein whey muscle sports gym iStock ogichobanov
©iStock/ogichobanov

The UK and Germany would probably be the most receptive markets for whey-based iced coffees, as they are projected to show strong sales gains in the 2015-2020 period, according to Lee. 

Niche appeal

However, she cautioned that an RTD whey protein iced coffee would be likely to have difficulty attracting mainstream, non-athlete consumers. 

“An obstacle to launching an RTD whey protein based iced coffee would be consumer perceptions of whey as a sports nutrition product and their belief that this type of iced coffee would not taste good. Consumers are looking for a delicious, indulgent taste when they buy an RTD coffee. As a result it may be difficult to gain trial outside of a core athlete base and outside of health food stores,” ​she said. 

That said, Lee added that such a product would have a higher chance of success now than five years ago because the market is seeing more RTD coffees touting high protein content. 

In a market dominated by milk or milk protein concentrate RTD coffees, Euromonitor confirmed that a product based on whey protein would be the first of its kind. 

Whilst Arla wouldn’t divulge whether any customers are working on bringing the concept to market, Schouw Andersen did say “we are confident we will see this concept on the market and available to consumers very soon”​.

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