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Volactive: Creating clear, protein-rich beverages to drive sports nutrition market growth

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The market for ready-to-drink functional beverages is growing quickly as interest in convenient, protein-rich products spreads beyond bodybuilders and professional athletes. If the rapid growth is to continue, businesses will need to broaden the appeal of functional drinks. Seeing this need, Volac has created a whey protein isolate that empowers manufacturers to develop crystal clear, high protein beverages.

In the past, demand for protein-enriched functional beverages was limited to hardcore athletes who were willing to overlook the sensory properties of products if they delivered the desired nutrients. The focus was on optimizing performance and physique, not enjoying a pleasant beverage.

That is changing. Today, a far broader, more diverse group of consumers want sports nutrition foods and beverages. These Active Nutrition consumers want to optimize their health and counteract aging, and understand that additional protein, specifically whey protein, can help them achieve these goals as part of muscle-building exercise regimes.

Protein-enriched, nutritionally-balanced drinks provide these consumers with a quick, convenient way to consume their desired macromolecules and are a good fit for busy lifestyles, leading to rising sales of the products. Coupled with continued demand from core users of protein drinks, this emerging interest among Active Nutrition consumers is fueling double-digit growth in the ready-to-drink functional sports beverage market, according to Nutrition Business Journal​, and revitalising the broader soft drink market.

Through its analysis of the market, Volac identified that consumers want light, refreshing and clear beverages that deliver a drinking experience comparable to that of flavoured water, fruit juice and squash, but the market is providing them with creamy, high-volume shakes.

Developing Volactive Pro2​O

Volac responded to the unmet market demand by setting out to develop a whey protein isolate that can be formulated into clear drinks, yet retains the excellent amino acid profile and clean label status that makes existing whey proteins a hit with consumers and manufacturers. The goal was to facilitate development of drinks that provide both protein and hydration, enabling consumers to use a single product to rehydrate, refuel and recondition.

The development process began with whey protein isolate. Volac then identified and removed all the components in the isolate that might make beverages cloudy, resulting in an ingredient that dissolves in liquid to create crystal clear beverages and only contains trace levels of ash and fat.  

Volac’s ingredient, Volactive Pro2​O, is an undenatured complete whey protein isolate that provides the benefit Active and Performance Nutrition consumers expect from whey protein products, while also facilitating the development of clear, fruit-flavoured beverages that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and sugars and free from fat. A suggested formulation of Volactive Pro2​O contains 20g of protein per 500ml.

As Volactive Pro2​O has a clean neutral flavour and mouthfeel with no astringency or drying aftertaste, formulators can easily create beverages with their desired taste and sensory profile. The ingredient is vegetarian, GMO free and Halal and Kosher certified.

Formulators can combine Volactive Pro2​O with minerals, such as calcium and sodium, and vitamins to further fortify their beverages. Other optional additions include sucralose and other sweeteners to enhance flavour, preservatives such as potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate to prolong the shelf life of the finished product and natural or artificial colours to provide a bright tint to the pale and clear beverages made using Volactive Pro2​O.

Enhancing drinks to grow sales

To help manufacturers understand how to create optimal formulations and efficiently scale them up, Volac offers the support of its specialist R&D applications team throughout the development process.   

Volac’s experience working with Volactive Pro2​O has identified a best practice process but it is far from the only way to incorporate the protein into beverages. Formulators can work with Volac’s R&D applications team to adapt the process to the characteristics and capabilities of their products and manufacturing facilities.

Through these collaborations, Volac is helping meet consumer demand for crystal clear drinks that deliver protein and hydration, thereby unlocking the full growth potential of the functional beverage market.

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