Whey protein has gained increasing popularity in Thailand over the past years. This surge is driven by rising health consciousness among consumers. Whey protein is heat sensitive. Because of its low capacity to withstand processing in higher temperature, whey protein is commercially available in the forms of powder or cold beverage, which are not convenient to consumers as the former needs further preparation and the latter only has a short shelf life of 1-2 weeks and requires refrigeration. This market gap has prompted Tawan Bott & Can Company and BIOTEC-NSTDA to co-develop ready-to-drink whey protein with a longer shelf life and can be stored at room temperature, catering to the modern lifestyle of today’s consumers.

Dr. Atikorn Panya, BIOTEC researcher leading the development reveals that the challenge of this assignment was to develop the process and beverage formulation that has high protein content, an appealing taste and can be subject to the retort sterilization process at 120 °C – a procedure that prolongs shelf life. Their effort resulted in ready-to-drink whey protein containing 30 g protein per 350-mL bottle and having a 6-month shelf life when stored in room temperature. The beverage comes in assorted flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and banana, each flavor with an option of sweetened (4% sugar) or sugar-free.

This research project was supported by NSTDA Innovation and Technology Assistance Program (ITAP). In addition, the company was financed by the Innovation Coupon of the National Innovation Agency (NIA) to advance the technology to industrial-scale production.

Tawan Bott & Can plans to launch this protein drink in the first quarter of 2020. This technology also opens up opportunities for the company to supplement its existing beverage products with whey protein and even apply to ready-to-eat food products for specific groups such as patients and the elderly.