Dairy Protein Key Ingredient in Nutrition Strategy for Healthy Active Aging in Southeast Asia
USDEC webinar highlights research and product ideas supporting quality protein intake
SINGAPORE, November 18, 2020 – Findings from a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) saw 98% of respondents in Thailand and Singapore aspire towards healthy aging, but only half feel they are prepared for the process. The study, which explored topics of protein, dairy, whey and perceptions around health and wellness, focused on these two markets known for their diverse and different tastes and cultures. At a webinar held today for food and beverage formulators and the nutrition community in Southeast Asia, nutrition and food innovation experts from Singapore and Japan discussed opportunities and proactive steps to narrow this large intention-action gap and reduce sarcopenia risks as Southeast Asia’s population ages. Sarcopenia is the age-related, progressive decline in muscle mass, strength and function that can impact adults as early as in their forties.
Raising Consumer Awareness of Protein Benefits
Addressing consumer knowledge gaps about the ideal sources of proteins nutritionally, along with the optimal quantity and timing to consume protein, is an important step to help consumers on a path to achieve their healthy aging goals. While 80% of respondents in USDEC’s study agreed that protein is a key nutrient to build muscles, remain active and reduce muscle loss during aging, many were confused about the body’s requirements for protein, how these needs change at different life stages, as well as the distinctive nutritional differences between plant, meat, and dairy proteins.
Dr. Satoshi Fujita, Professor, College of Sport and Health Science, Ritsumeikan University, Japan, shed scientific light on these questions. He explained the importance of sufficient protein intake spread evenly throughout the day with about 20-30g or 0.4g per kg of body weight at each meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – to help protect against sarcopenia. He also emphasized the importance of protein quality, especially the essential amino acid composition and the critically important role of the branched chain amino acid, leucine. When it comes to the ratio of essential amino acids as a percentage of total protein, whey proteins lead with 52% compared to other animal and plant sources such as beef (44%), cod (40%), soy (38%), pea (37%) and wheat (30%). Similarly, whey protein ranks highest for leucine content, the molecular trigger for muscle protein synthesis.
Another issue speakers raised during the webinar was the imbalanced protein intake over the course of the day. In Southeast Asia where cuisines are carbohydrate-heavy, especially for breakfast, protein intake is low at the start of the day and high at the evening meal, rather than optimally spread evenly throughout the day. Incorporating dairy protein, especially at breakfast, is a proactive and convenient step consumers can take today to fill the protein gap at breakfast. This also helps preserve muscle mass and function to in turn, remain active in senior years.
Catering for the Southeast Asian Palate
Together with nutrition, taste is central to successfully optimize protein intake in Southeast Asia. Careful product and recipe formulation are important to increase protein levels in products and dishes without affecting tastes, flavors and textures. Whey protein has a neutral flavor profile, making it a good fit to incorporate into everyday foods, whether Western or Asian style.
Through application ideation and prototype development efforts conducted by USDEC at its U.S. Centre for Dairy Excellence (U.S. CDE), which includes a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen and sensory evaluation lab, food and beverage manufacturers in the region can gain access to and be inspired by an expanding repertoire of local-friendly protein-enriched foods and beverages incorporating U.S. dairy proteins that fit seamlessly into everyday diets.
“The versatility and functionality of dairy proteins allow for the creation of products and menus that represent the region’s cuisines while providing higher levels of quality protein. Incorporating ingredients such as whey and milk proteins into various rice and noodle dishes such as Pad Thai, Laksa, fried rice, curries and desserts will help balance daily protein intake and in the case of the elderly, help them achieve their nutritional needs with familiar dishes,” said Pauline Chan, Director, Food and Nutrition Specialists Pte Ltd, Singapore.
As today’s technological and societal changes continue to drive and reshape the food and beverage industry, the U.S. CDE will focus on inspiring regionally tailored nutrition and innovation solutions with U.S. dairy ingredients and cheeses to meet evolving consumer needs. The first-of-its-kind learning destination, ideation hub and collaboration space, the U.S. CDE is envisioned to be a valuable resource that enables Southeast Asian customers, consumers and U.S. dairy suppliers to thrive together in the future food ecosystem.
Providing Increased Access and Options
Supplementing the mindset change is the need for increased access and options for individuals to consume protein-enriched foods. From the study, consumers in both Thailand and Singapore indicated that they are willing to pay a premium for healthy food, actively read nutritional information prior to purchase and are keen on trying new flavors and variants. 83% of all respondents also highlighted that they are likely to consume products with whey protein in the next 12 months.
However, present market conditions do not meet consumer preferences with 41% of respondents in Thailand indicating difficulties in finding protein enriched products where they shop. Furthermore, the percentage of products labelled “Protein Enriched” in 25 leading supermarkets in Bangkok fell below 10% for many product types available on the shelves. This represents a big opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers to fulfill rising consumer demand.
“Consumers are increasingly aware of protein’s overall. However, our study shows that while demand is present in the region, the availability and variety of protein-enriched products is lagging behind. This presents a major opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers to capture a growing market in Southeast Asia through the introduction of protein-enriched variations of local dishes and products that consumers in the region are familiar with,” said Mr. Martin Teo, Technical Director – Food Applications, USDEC Southeast Asia.
With Southeast Asia’s population already starting to age, a new approach is beneficial to invest in a healthier tomorrow through taking action today optimizing how much, what kinds, and when to consume proteins. As a nutritionally high-quality and complete source of protein that is also versatile and multifunctional, U.S. dairy proteins are an ideal ingredient solution to meet the unique nutritional needs of aging societies.
ร่วมพูดคุยด้วย บัญชี facebook