The quote “eat to live” often refers to the careful selection and consumption of the right foods and nutrients for survival. As consumers globally become more health conscious, they are more aware of what they eat. “You are what you eat,” has become synonymous with being able to balance food intake to ensure the body gets the nutrients it needs.
According to Mintel in a 2016 report on ‘food as medicine’, 78 percent of Chinese consumers between the ages of 20 and 59 agree that food therapy is one way to maintain health.
The functionality of foods covers a wide range of claims from sustaining energy through the day, boosting energy levels, maintaining mental alertness to supporting digestive, cognitive, heart and bone health, as well as maintaining the immune system. This explains the rise of functional foods and beverages launches globally since 2014.
Fulfilling Consumers’ Needs In Satiety
With the increasing urbanisation in Asia Pacific, consumers are seeking convenient on-the-go options that complement their busy lifestyles and help them save time while sustaining energy through the day via ingredients that promote satiety.
According to another report by Mintel on ‘energy and endurance’ in 2015, the top sub-categories in energy and endurance products in Asia-Pacific is driven by the beverage category that includes energy drinks, meal replacements options, malt and other hot beverages.
This provides an opportunity for formulators to develop beverages that may provide satiety as fuel for the body— creating longer-lasting energy that is already a common positioning in cereal bars.
Consumers want to feel fuller for a longer period of time. As such, they are constantly searching for foods that provide satiety to keep hunger at bay. These high-satiety products can therefore help manage appetites and could also help in weight management.
Although satiety claims are niche, they continue to increase. The percentage of satiety-focused food and beverage launches globally grew from 16 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2015.
When developing beverages intended for satiety, protein fortification is gaining popularity. The word protein is derived from the Greek term “proteos”, meaning the “first one” or “the most important one”. The significance of protein as the body’s most important building block to sustain life is truly reflected in the term itself.
Protein is used first for body tissue maintenance and muscle building. After carbohydrates, it is the next energy source that will be used by the body. As a fuel, proteins provide as much energy density as carbohydrates—4 kcal (17 kJ) per gram. Across all global launches of high satiety products in 2015, 17 percent had both a high protein and high satiety claim.
The blurring of meal times and in-between snacking occasions requires protein in on-the-go formats, and high satiety and high protein claims with protein fortification can create satisfying filling options to appeal to consumers.
Taking reference from a Mintel study on protein consumption, 37 percent of Chinese consumers eat more protein in place of carbohydrates, with 34 percent stating that it helps to satisfy their appetite, thus further connecting protein and satiety.
Protein products need to satisfy the different tastes of consumers across demographics. For example, the increase in vegan and flexitarian lifestyles would require incorporating plant-based proteins to create good-tasting products that are lactose-free and free from animal ingredients.
With all the choices for protein fortification, one of the biggest hurdles is achieving the appropriate protein level. It is critical to work with a knowledgeable partner to blend proteins for optimum cost-effectiveness, taste and performance.
Formulators are often looking to deliver protein content greater than or equal to a cup of milk, which often requires blending different plant-based proteins to achieve the right protein level while achieving desired flavour and texture. Working with the right partner at the forefront of plant-based proteins will help food formulators find the right solutions to meet consumers’ needs.
Protein is not the only option for satiety. In 2015, 39 percent of high satiety product launches were linked to fibre with high/ added fibre claims. It has been known that fibre’s bulk and ability to slow gastric emptying leaves consumers feeling full longer.
Studies have shown dietary fibre stimulates satiety or reduces hunger. In one such clinical study, subjects who consumed soluble corn fibre experienced prolonged fullness and delayed post-meal hunger compared to those consuming a control. They also recorded increased production of the satiety hormones PYY (pancreatic peptide YY3-36) and GLP-1 (glucagonlike peptide 1).
Choosing the right fibre is important to ensure optimal performance in your product and also ideal digestive tolerance even at high fibre levels. The ideal fibre of choice should help to maintain intestinal regularity without the concern of gastric discomfort because the fibre’s use as energy by the body’s gut microflora occurs very slowly.
These make protein and fibre a potential dynamic duo for a high satiety formulation in a vegan power drink, and products such as these are an ideal choice for consumers seeking more functional products for their ever-healthier lifestyles.