Dairy protein promotes healthy ageing

Protein has moved from niche to mainstream markets as consumers are grasping its numerous benefits. Dairy protein is one of the highest quality protein available. We interviewed Aaron Fanning, Human Nutritionist and Senior Nutrition Research Scientist at Fonterra Co - operative Group, a head of his presentation at the Fi Europe Conference 2017 to find out what the future of protein hold in store for us.



You say there is a growing demand for protein across all demographics – which is seeing most growth?
‘Protein demand is growing across a wide range of demographics. The sports nutrition market is growing strongly, and predicted to continue at least until 2020, but the biggest growth market will be the healthy ageing – around the ageing population, using protein to help protect their health and wellness as they grow older.’

What are the nutritional benefits of protein?
‘Protein has numerous health benefits associated with it. But these can be collected into a few main areas. Protein helps support sports performance and recovery, not just for the top athletes, but for every day exercisers trying to get the best gains for their time spent exercising. It can also aid in weight management, by protecting against the loss of muscle mass, while promoting appetite control. Finally, protein helps support mobility through supporting the maintenance of muscle mass against the losses that can occur with ageing.’

How does protein from dairy sources compare with others, such as plant or meat in terms of quality, applications etc.?
‘Dairy protein is amongst the highest quality protein available. This is determined by not only its high content of essential amino acids, but that it is also classified as a highly bioavailable protein, providing highly absorbable amino acids to the body. It is also a highly functional protein, that can be used in a wide range of formulations and product types, and provides a natural neutral milky flavour that provides the best base for formulating great tasting consumer products.’

Which demographic/ consumer group will have more benefit from increasing their protein intake?
‘The 40 - 50 year old segment would have the most benefit with improving their protein intake, especially around break fast/lunch, or after exercise. This will help promote the retention or gain of muscle, as well as promote reduced food intake to help minimise any age related weight gain.’

Why has protein appeal moved to the mainstream? Why has there been a surge in demand?
‘Protein has moved mainstream as consumers are seeing the benefit outside of the niche sports market. The weight management and muscle maintenance benefits resonate with the ageing population, and finally it’s a positive story, showing a benefit of a nutrient, rather than the negative stories often related with carbohydrate, sugars or fats.’

What are you predictions for the F&B industry in the next 3-5 years?
‘High-quality protein will become more important to the population. The medical nutrition industry will branch out towards the mainstream older adults more and more, and the sports nutrition industry will start promoting more into the older adults, or older athletes. The global desire around protein will increase the range of novel offerings being promoted to the consumer, with new formats, new flavours and new packaging bringing protein into every potential market.’

Be sure to catch Aaron Fanning’s presentation ‘Dairy expertise for every life stage’, at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference during the Master Class: Life Stages on Wednesday, 29th November 14:30–17:15.