1st November 2015Back
Infant formula is one of the fastest growing markets in the dairy sector, particularly China (with the largest growth rate), Eastern Europe, Middle East and Latin America. The development of the market is linked with the economic growth of those countries and the growing number of working women.
Although it is known and accepted that the ideal food for new born infants is their mother’s milk, due to the fact it enhances the immune system and is hypoallergenic, it is sometimes not possible to provide this and infant formula has to be used. However, this is sometimes not as simple as it first sounds…
The main allergen in cow’s milk protein is beta-lactoglobulin. Beta-lactoglobulin is the most abundant protein in whey accounting for 50% of the total protein. Although the incidence of allergies to cow’s milk protein are low, many infant formula manufacturers are increasingly adding whey proteins to infant formula which could potentially increase problems such as severe life threatening allergies that need to be overcome.
So how can we overcome this problem?
A simple way is by enzymatic hydrolysis of the protein beta-lactoglobulin. This means that the whey proteins that are added to infant formula to improve factors such as taste and smell should be extensively hydrolysed in order to reduce allergenicity.
Consumer demand does not seem to be slowing in the infant nutrition market. In fact, according to the specialist food and industry consultancy Zenith International, when the global economy went into reverse, the infant nutrition market grew by 7% and is expected to be the fastest growing packaged food category over the next 5 years. The market is currently estimated at over 50 billion US dollars.
With this high demand for infant formulas, enzymes provide an excellent solution for hydrolysing whey proteins, reducing allergenicity as well as providing a superior taste. Take a read of our technical bulletin on The Use of Enzymes in the Production of Whey Protein Hydrolysates which gives recommendations on which enzymes to use for infant formula as well as the many different benefits and applications of whey protein hydrolysates.