Protein is the No. 1 nutrient Americans said they are seeking, according to the 2022 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council, Washington, DC. Bakers looking to attract these consumers are including dairy proteins in new product development, as they are recognized for their in-process stability, ease-of-use and great flavor. They can be added without compromising taste, texture and shelf life.

Bars are one of the most common baked good applications, but dairy proteins are not limited to this space. Dairy proteins can be found in baked snacks, cookies and even pizza crusts.

The Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is used to assess the quality of all proteins in human nutrition. The PDCAAS value of cows’ milk, casein, whey, eggs and soy protein all possess the maximum score of 1. Most plant protein sources have lower values.

“Consumer research shows that most consumers aren’t aware of or aren’t able to distinguish that proteins have differences in protein quality,” said Kimberlee Burrington, vice president of technical development, American Dairy Products Institute. “We use the Nutrition Facts panel to communicate the grams per serving of protein, but the only way to show a difference in protein quality is by using the % Daily Value.”

The % Daily Value for protein is determined using PDCAAS. A bar containing 10 grams of milk protein may make an “excellent source of protein” claim, while a vegan product with 10 grams of protein from peas and nuts most likely only qualifies for a “good source of protein” claim. When making or implying any protein content claim, the US Food and Drug Administration requires the inclusion of the % Daily Value.

“Most products that don’t claim anything about the level of protein on the product will not show anything in the % Daily Value column,” Burrington said.

Milk protein concentrates and isolates, as well as whey protein concentrates and isolates, and their various derivatives, can be used for product innovation in sports nutrition, weight management and healthful snacking segments.

Because proteins bind water, it is often necessary to adjust the proportion of other ingredients to standardize moisture content. This is important to achieve the desired texture and shelf life.

“It is always important to look at a bakery formulation as an entire system and understand the role each ingredient is playing,” said Susan O’Shaughnessy, senior applications specialist at Edlong.

Bakers today understand the important functionality, protein and taste that eggs and dairy ingredients bring to their products, but they are keeping an eye out for alternatives that can help them manage costs without compromising quality. Those who find the right balance will find success.

– This article is an excerpt from the June 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Dairy & Eggs, click here.