Kasia Kandulski Lindegaard, marketing and business development manager for functional milk proteins at Arla Food Ingredients (AFI) claimed major branded interest in the smoothie concept which is 50% Greek yogurt, 50% fruit and up to 7.5% protein.
“It’s not viscous at all, it’s very drinkable – that is the uniqueness of this product. Normally it’s very hard to produce dairy products for drinking with a high protein level and low viscosity,” she said.
AFI used its Nutrilac YO-8075 whey protein to formulate the drink, and Lindegaard said the ingredient did not make the proteins gellify (as per commodity products using other proteins), which is why the company was able to produce such as smooth, drinkable product.
AFI overcomes formulation challenges
“We haven’t been able to find any other such high protein products – it’s the first time we succeeded in making a Greek-style smoothie, a fermented drinking dairy product, with such a high protein level,” Lindegaard said of the fat-free drink.
“Also, there’s 50% fruit in it. And normally it’s very difficult to use fruit like this and retain such a high protein level,” she added; Arla has developed red berry, exotic fruit and vegetable and basil-flavored smoothie concepts.
Greek yogurt sales were worth $7.3bn in the US in 2012, and is on course to hit $9.3bn by 2017 (Packaged Facts), and Lindegaard said the ‘Greek style’ remains wildly popular with NPD across many CPG categories.
In a November 2013 research report (freely accessible online), Affinova flagged up opportunities for Greek yogurt in sectors as varied as natural beauty (estimated to reach $13.6bn in 2016), supplements and even flushable face wipes!
“The Greek style is spreading into everything, it’s even in shampoo and cream now. Greek yogurt is considered to be something very healthy and local. Consumers still feel good about it,” she added.
Such smoothies would appeal to busy people who lived and worked in cities and lived their lives at a fast pace, Lindegaard said, singling out the ‘younger generation’ as the priority target group.
‘Everything about convenience’ for time-pressed consumers
“Everything is about convenience. They’re not preparing large meals during the day so they want something very easy and snacky – something that satisfies them for a longer period as well,” she said, adding that seniors might also like the product due to high levels of protein and fruit.
Lindegaard agreed that beverages that satiate are an important focus for Arla Food Ingredients, “especially in dairy drinks because they are so convenient. You can drink it on the go, you’re not sitting eating a yogurt, for instance”.
She concedes that such a product may command a price premium but agrees it could be a useful way for brands and retailers to rebuild value in a somewhat commodified smoothie category.
Moreover, Lindegaard said the process used to create the product gives a 100% yield – cutting out the acid whey waste that results from traditional Greek yogurt production, which would save producers money and help them offer a more environmentally friendly product.