The ‘silver bullet’ of protein good news for NZ


Consumers across the world are seeing protein as the ‘silver bullet’ to good health with dairy products and milk regarded among the holy grail of protein sources. 

Florida based HealthFocus International specialise in understanding consumer attitudes toward health and nutrition. At a recent seminar near Chicago*, they presented findings from a global survey of more than 12,000 people in 22 countries. The survey looked at the respondent’s diets, the role of protein in their diets and the emerging discussion around plant and animal proteins.

Among the topline results are that consumers actively want a healthier life and see protein as a ‘silver bullet’ for better general health with physical and lifestyle benefits. Just under 40% of respondents choose foods or beverages because they are high in protein, up 4% since 2016.

Dairy protein is among the top sources frequently used by respondents and regarded as core to their diet for being healthy.

Other sources in the same category include eggs, beans, fish, legumes, oats, peas and plant protein.

Science tells you not all protein is equal.  Dietary proteins can be separated into two categories, based on their ability to provide the essential amino acids. Complete proteins provide all the essential amino acids at the levels required by the body. Dairy proteins and common dairy ingredients such as milk, milk protein concentrate, casein and whey are complete proteins. Incomplete proteins such as maize, wheat, nuts, grains and rice protein do not contain sufficient levels of the essential amino acids required by the body.

Fonterra has a team of over 200 food scientists and researchers who play a key part in diversifying our product range to maximise the goodness of dairy.

We have been responsible for many firsts in dairy protein, have one of the widest portfolios of dairy protein in the world and we can produce proteins of consistent quality at scale.

All this positions us well for being able to target specific market segments.

Over the last 18 months our NZMP ingredients business has focused on two key areas where dairy, the power of protein and our track record in harnessing that power can make a positive difference in people’s lives and give us a compelling opportunity to win in the market – Medical Nutrition and Sports and Active Lifestyles.

One example our medical and healthy aging nutrition research teams are working on are applications to support treatment plans for diseases like cancer, sarcopenia and diabetes. 

Sports and active lifestyle is one of the fastest growing categories in the food and beverage sector. One reason is the consumer base continues to widen beyond athletes to the general population while growth in Asia continues to soar. In China, the number of gyms has doubled in the last decade, sports apparel is now a bigger category than luxury goods and last year alone, there were 1500 marathon and running events involving more than six million participants. 

The recent global survey results show people of all ages are better understanding the power of protein, are deliberately choosing foods to ensure they get it and dairy is a sought-after source. All of this is good news for New Zealand dairy. 

*May 2019


Kelvin Wickham

Kelvin Wickham is Chief Operating Officer for Fonterra’s NZMP ingredients business.