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US dairy council seeks collaboration in SE Asia to promote industry innovation

2019-11-18 10:15 Monday

In recent months, U.S. dairy representatives have been conducting a publicity drive throughout SE Asia, in an attempt to convince more F&B companies to choose its liquid milk and protein ingredients in their local products.


According to the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC), it believes there are big opportunities to be had in the region for new product development, and they are trying to cement diary imports from the States as a more common option in comparison to competitor countries such as New Zealand and Australia.

Though exports to Asia have been slow so far, the council is determined to make their case and open up the continent further to dairy farmers by encouraging innovation in areas such as snacks, protein bars, sports drinks and seasonal foods.

According to data from USDEC, the share of global food and beverage launches featuring a dairy protein component doubled between 2014 and 2018, up to 6.3 percent. In terms of whey protein launches, it is still far behind N America and Western Europe, but Asia has been growing faster than anywhere else.

In 2018, the biggest share of whey protein-related product launches were in China, with SE Asia as a regional group contributing a total of 4.4 percent globally.

Martin Teo, technical director for food applications at USDEC's Southeast Asia operation, says Thailand is one of the quickest growing markets, with a particular appetite for launches involving yogurt, beverages, sports nutrition, protein bars and cookies.

He added that companies in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are also becoming more keen on developing high-protein products for local consumers. He said: "The food service sector in this region is playing catch-up on the high-protein diet by offering protein smoothies and booster juices on their menus."

"Efforts in the innovation of U.S. dairy proteins has also enabled the creation of high-protein products in traditional Asian recipes like mooncakes, bob-bons, traditional sesame snacks and coconut-based sweets," he added.

At a Thai trade show in August, USDEC showed off prototypes of several SE Asia-friendly snacking concepts that industry promoters hope will catch on among the public in the region.

One high-protein mango chew was developed in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic's Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) and contained added whey protein isolate.

"It was developed to be a prototype to inspire end-users to think beyond common flavors and be creative in their product innovation… It's also one of many product ideas demonstrating that U.S. dairy ingredients possess the versatility to be successfully added into Asia-style protein snacks and foods," remarked Teo.

The collaboration between Singapore Polytechnic and USDEC began in 2018. It has allowed the lobby group and U.S. dairy suppliers to work with the innovation center to deepen regional knowledge and come up with new products for the SE Asian market that match specific local tastes.

The island state has been setting itself up as an Asian hub for food science and technology over the last 10 years or so, as part of the government's economic goal to develop the country as a regional center for food and nutrition research and development.

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