The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • Nutrition Opportunities for Dairy Ingredient Growth

    By USDEC Staff February 23, 2015


    Plenty of opportunities exist, such as meeting the nutritional needs of an aging world population.

    Veronique Lagrange is USDEC's senior vice president of strategy and insights. In this Q&A, she answers questions about nutritional opportunities for dairy ingredients.    

    Q: Looking toward the future, where do you see the biggest nutrition opportunities for dairy ingredient growth?

    VL: The world population is aging. In developed countries like Japan, Germany and Italy, more than one-third of the people will be age 60 or over by 2050. Without a doubt, nutrition influences health outcomes and chronic disease progression for this group, and dairy is well positioned with regards to bone and muscle maintenance.

    15140821_sFalls are the leading cause of injury and death among older adults (2.4 million senior Americans visited emergency rooms in 2012 alone due to falls), and dairy proteins have a role to play in both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia, and loss of muscle and strength that are a primary cause of falls.

    New trials are also investigating the impact of nutrition on Alzheimer’s and mental health, where certain dairy components may play a role.

    Medical nutrition products (a $28 billion industry globally) need to be formulated with high quality proteins and minerals that the U.S. dairy industry has the capacity to deliver. This specific industry segment represents incremental demand of more than 30,000 tons per annum for high-end milk protein ingredients (such as isolates) worth approximately $30 million. The medical nutrition segment grows an average of 6 percent per year, and is already a large user of other dairy ingredients, such as caseinates.

    Q: When the dairy industry talks about nutrition and dairy ingredients five years from now, what will be the main topics?

    VL: I hope we will have more information on the role of lactose and its impact on the microbiome, gene expression, etc. Today lactose is often vilified as a sugar or due to claims of digestive intolerance, but nature put lactose, a unique carbohydrate, in milk for a reason. Microbiota is key to health, and researchers are starting to see evidence not only in malnourished children but also obese persons of how small quantities of lactose or its derivatives (such as lacto-oligosaccharides) can help alleviate consequences of over- and under-nutrition.

    The research community, will, no doubt, be looking at new benefits—perhaps mental health and development, or linear growth—associated with milk phospholipids, Type II minerals or yet-to-be-discovered fractions and components of milk. As our production technologies grow ever more sophisticated, so will be our ability to conduct innovative clinical trials that will provide science-based, “prescription strength” evidence for new benefits.

    Q: How do you see the food aid sector developing in terms of U.S. opportunity?

    VL: We have made great inroads on developing food aid as a commercially viable market from one that historically the United States supplied only from surplus government stocks. Five years ago, U.S. manufacturers were supplying less than 2 percent of the ready-to-use therapeutic food market. Today, they have a 21 percent market share and are the second largest player after the EU.

    Now we are working on firming dairy’s position in products for moderately malnourished children (ready-to-use supplementary foods or RUSF) and conducting new research to document benefits for pregnant and lactating women—a much larger group. We need to make sure measures of protein quality and specifications for dairy content are part of official UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization policies and Codex standards. We are collaborating with groups around the world to make that so. While the opportunity is not U.S.-specific, we estimate incremental demand for the United States to be in the 150,000-200,000-ton range (milk powder equivalent).

    Q: How competitive can the United States be in providing ingredients for cutting-edge nutrition products?

    VL: A strength of the United States is its ability to deliver high safety standards and meet stringent specifications, be it in ingredients (for local production) or formulated products. Our suppliers are very well positioned to meet this rising demand. 

    Image copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

    The U.S. Dairy Export Council is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff that builds on collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to build global demand for U.S. dairy products.   


    Research & Data Food Aid Innovation Nutrition
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