Economic growth and rising middle income population in Southeast Asia, coupled with growing consumer focus on health and nutrition has fuelled demand for functional beverages. In recent years, there is also a growing appreciation of protein’s nutritional benefits which drive demand for enriched drinks. As a result, beverage manufacturers are ramping up efforts to formulate a variety of beverage formats fortified with proteins.
Instant 3-in-1 hot beverages like coffee, tea and chocolate malt are popular among Southeast Asian consumers and they are consumed throughout the day and especially enjoyed at breakfast and teatime. Unfortunately, these beverages are often high in sugar and has very little nutrients and health benefits to the consumers.
U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) Southeast Asia has developed several healthier prototypes within this popular hot drink category by fortifying them with proteins and reducing the sugar content. Consumers can easily supplement their daily protein needs by replacing the beverages that they consume on a regular basis with healthier beverage options.
Protein drinks within the already popular coffee, tea and chocolate drink category
Presently, the market is flooded with protein shake powders in chocolate, mocha and other flavors mainly targeting athletes and gym goers. USDEC noted that there is a potential for protein-enriched hot beverages that can appeal to a broader range of consumers, particularly older consumers who need to boost their protein intake while maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle.
Consumers are willing to pay a premium for such products that are protein-enriched but yet palatable. The objective of introducing such products are not to compete directly with the mass-market 3-in-1 hot beverages, but rather to offer consumers a healthier option for beverages that are part of their regular diet.
Protein-enriched vs Conventional Hot Drinks
According to Martin Teo, Technical Director for Food Applications of USDEC Southeast Asia, the enriched protein beverages have about 11g of protein per serving compared to standard hot beverages which have less than 1g of protein per serving.
In addition, the new product prototypes are lower in sugar, sodium and fat. Meanwhile, a recent sensory evaluation conducted by USDEC has shown that the 3 protein fortified hot beverages were well accepted as the taste is close to the traditional 3-in-1 hot drink products available in the market.
Consumers can now enjoy their usual hot drinks - tea, coffee or chocolate drink – while gaining health benefits from the added proteins and other nutrients.
Target consumers for protein-enriched drinks
Martin emphasised that one major target consumer segment for such protein-enriched hot drinks will be the older adults. As part of active healthy ageing, adults need to have sufficient daily protein intake for muscle health which is key in maintaining mobility and plays a critical role in helping to influence their overall health.
Several experts recommended consuming 25-30g of high- quality protein spaced throughout the day at each meal. As many people tend to eat the least amount of protein at breakfast, these enriched hot beverages can help to boost their protein intake with the right choice of food.
USDEC – your ideal partner
In 2020, USDEC opened the US Center for Dairy Excellence in Singapore, a learning destination, ideation hub and collaboration space for US dairy customers and other partners in Southeast Asia. USDEC is in a good position to help accelerate customer success in providing dairy knowledge and expertise to speed up the R&D/ formulation process.
In addition, USDEC is also able to connect you with its US dairy suppliers with a large portfolio of high quality sustainably-produced, versatile dairy ingredients to support locally-driven ideation and product development.
For more information on USDEC or to contact them directly, click HERE