By Elaine Watson Nutra Ingredients USA
An international patent application filed by PepsiCo last September - and published yesterday - reveals the firm is seeking to patent high-protein nutrition beverages in 4floz ‘hydration units’ containing alpha-lactalbumin, whey protein hydrolysates, and/or hydrolyzed collagen.
PepsiCo Nutrition Ventures VP Dondeena Bradley PhD, who told reporters at last year’s Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) that PepsiCo was working on new protein beverage launch that “won’t show up on a shelf the way you envision it”, is named as an inventor on the patent, along with senior director Ellen Rohrer.
PepsiCo did not respond to requests for comment, so it is not clear whether the formulations it describes in the patent application (click here) will feature in the launch Bradley flagged up at FNCE, or whether the two initiatives are unrelated.
A product that women will love ….which ‘won’t show up on a shelf the way you envision it’
Bradley, who mentioned the impending launch at a FNCE press briefing to promote an initiative called PLAY (Protein, Liquid, Activity, You-time), said PepsiCo was testing product prototypes with consumers, but would not provide any details.
She added: “We are going to introduce a product that has protein in it, a complete protein and in a product that women will love. But it won’t show up on a shelf the way you envision it.”
‘A ready-to-drink container containing a single hydration unit comprising four fluid ounces’
According to the application, PepsiCo - which has a lot of experience in developing protein drinks via its Gatorade Recover whey-protein-based products - is seeking to patent “nutrition beverage compositions including high concentrations of protein” along with methods of making them.
As for serving sizes and packaging, it says: “In certain aspects, a high protein beverage composition is provided in a ready-to-drink container containing a single hydration unit comprising four fluid ounces.
“In other aspects, a high protein beverage composition is provided in a ready-to-drink container containing multiple four fluid ounce hydration units.”
The beverages would contain 4-8% protein by weight, and one or several of the following: alpha- lactalbumin, hydrolyzed collagen, whey protein hydrolysate and collagen.
Some applications would contain 5-8g of protein per 4 fluid oz serving.
High protein clear beverages, juice beverages, dairy beverages, carbonated beverages...
The application describes a bewildering array of possible ingredient combinations in the beverages, with some containing monk fruit or stevia and others containing sucralose, neotame or ace-K; some carbonated; some juice-based; some dairy-based, and others clear.
“The high protein beverage products disclosed here include …frozen ready-to-drink beverages, coffee beverages, tea beverages, dairy beverages, powdered beverages, liquid concentrates, strong water compositions, flavored waters, enhanced waters, fruit juice and fruit juice-flavored beverages”, says the application.
“At least certain exemplary embodiments of the high protein beverage concentrates contemplated are prepared with an initial volume of water to which the additional ingredients are added.
“Full strength high protein beverage compositions can be formed from the high protein beverage concentrate by adding further volumes of water…”
Many women are not getting enough protein, especially at breakfast and lunch
While most Americans eat more than enough protein at their evening meal, and meet or exceed their daily requirements, they would be better off spreading their consumption across the day as our bodies can only process around 20-30g at one sitting and turn it into muscle, reporters were told at the FNCE PepsiCo P.L.A.Y. briefing.
However, many women in particular are not getting any protein at breakfast, and hardly any at lunch, said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, senior vice president, nutrition and food safety at the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
People often tend to think about lack of protein as being an issue for older people, and tend to talk about it in terms of frailty, fractures, sarcopenia and so on, she said.
Meanwhile, may women still think of protein as something that’s most important for athletes and young people, particularly young men looking to build muscle, she said.
“They also think that protein is less important as we age, when in fact it can help to prevent many of the issues we see in older adults. Men also think more about protein than women.”
Are we on the cusp of a protein renaissance?
From a commercial perspective, protein is red hot right now, with recent launches including Powerful Yogurt (aka 'Brogurt'... yogurt for men), Post Foods’ Great Grains Protein Blend whole grain cereal, Yoplait’s Pro-Force yogurts for kids, and ProYo’s new high-protein frozen desserts/snacks.
Notably, products are targeting all ages and both sexes, with messaging around weight management, healthy aging, sports nutrition, and general health & wellness rather than purely bodybuilding.
A lot of work has also been done on the supply side to make proteins more palatable at higher addition levels, while new products from ADM’s ‘invisible’ soy protein Clarisoy (which works in clear beverages with a low pH) to Solazyme Roquette Nutritionals’ algae-based protein ingredients are creating novel application opportunities.