Arla bets on the RTD market with protein-packed cold-brew concepts
Exhibiting at Vitafoods Europe 2023, the ingredients division of the multi-national dairy co-operative is aiming to tap into the market of functional RTD teas and coffees, which is predicted to grow by 6-7% CAGR by 2026.
The company’s Mathias Toft Vangsoe told DairyReporter that the two beverage concepts are fortified with a micellar casein isolate that is rich in protein and calcium, while the coffee also benefits from 90mg of caffeine per serving. The ingredient, Lacprodan MicelPure, contains at least 86% native protein, offers low viscosity and a milk milky taste, and is suitable for high-temperature processing.
Vangsoe said the two concepts are designed for the mainstream market, rather than the performance segment. “We don’t see these as hardcore post-exercise products, but more as healthy on-the-go drinks with added benefits,” said Vangsoe. “In a typical protein beverage you would have 20-30g of protein per serving. What we are showcasing here are 200ml beverages, which have 12g of protein for the coffee and 8g of protein for the tea. So it’s a case of having protein in the mix, which increases the health benefits of the product, making it more desirable by the consumer.”
The cold brew coffee works as either a morning caffeine boost or a pre-workout energizer and will appeal to consumers who choose functional food and beverages that increase their energy levels. Meanwhile, the RTD tea is designed as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, flavored with yuzu and ideal for consumers who are conscious about bone health.
The market for functional RTD teas and coffees is predicted to grow 6-7% by 2026, according to Innova Market Insights data quoted by Arla, but while there’s a clear trend, consumer buying habits and taste preferences differ across the world. While the company is targeting the global market, the concept of milky tea could admittedly be more suitable for some markets more than others.
“Tea can be very market-specific,” said Vangsoe. “For example, Denmark is not very big on milky tea but the UK is, and the UK is a big market in Europe. That and Asia might make more sense [as markets].
“But I think it’s also about being a little creative, going out of your comfort zone. It’s about sparking creativity. We might be onto something, we might not but as long as the sample is nice and tasty and relevant to that particular market, we’d have done our job well.”
From cold-brew coffee to protein bars
Tapping into the functional snack bars market, Arla Foods Ingredients also presented a concept for a protein bar that enables manufacturers to raise the protein content in every layer, from the filling and coating to the bar mass. “Protein bars go hand-in-hand with candy bars nowadays,” explained Vangsoe. “Brands want to create something that’s indulgent all the way through and more fun to consume.
“We’ve been able to incorporate protein across all three layers - in the chocolate coating we have whey protein concentrate; in the fat filling, we’ve got the miscellar casein isolate, and for the bar mass we’ve got a third protein ingredient. So that way you can spread out your protein source throughout all three layers and therefore have a bit more flexibility on the end formula.”
He said that ‘all brands are jumping on that multi-sensory trend’ in snack bars. “Protein bars are super versatile, they are suitable for the sports consumer but also the general, mainstream, health-conscious consumer and it fulfils different roles – it’s something sweet, something that’s filling, but it’s also not your regular Mars bar.”
Vangsoe added that two of the biggest taste trends on the snack bar market are indulgence and licence collaborations, such as the Grenade-Oreo protein bar release. “Anything that’s familiar to the consumer – something they know and like – can be turned into a protein bar. That’s a fairly good place to start.”