Director of R&D at Glanbia Nutritionals, Brent Petersen, told us: “Usually when you have a protein powder and you add it into water it clumps and doesn’t dissolve. Industry for years has come up with instantanisation or agglomeration whereby you build a particle size so it disperses in water and you can stir the protein powder into a solution.
“Typically industry uses soy lecithin to spray into the powder making the particles larger. But people don’t want soy allergens on the label and it’s an added ingredient on the label whereas the trend has been to clean and clear up labels. This technology replaces that.”
Lecithin naturally occurs in egg yolks and soy and is used by the food industry as an emulsifier.
Glanbia removes the need for the additive by treating the protein particles in a way that makes them dispersable in liquid. “We do it without adding any ingredients – no fibre, no lecithin, nothing. It’s a way of manufacturing the powder.”
This manufacturing process can be applied to a variety of plant-based and animal-based proteins, such as pea protein isolate, whey, casein or milk proteins, and the ingredient can then be used in a product formulation like-for-like without needing to tweak the recipe.
Glanbia said the BevEdge powder “is all about functionality” and allows for greater ease of flavouring and better flavour expression, although the colour may change slightly. The powder appears more “flowable” and less powdery. “It will pour out nicely from a powder stick,” Petersen added.
It should also match standard protein powder for shelf-, light- and heat-stability, he said.
The Kilkenny-headquartered company expected most initial demand to come from the North American and European markets. “But of course our market is bigger than that; it’s anywhere where people want a shorter ingredient deck and no allergens.”
Although Glanbia has applied the technology only to drinks its potential applications are much wider, Petersen said.
In 2016, Glanbia reported a 2.8% increase in wholly-owned revenue, hitting the €2.8 billion mark.