MPC’s MaltRite™ malted barley extract gaining attention as base
for malt-based energy drinks; ethnic beverages; kombucha and specialty teas; and sports recovery drinks.
Malt Products Corporation (MPC), a manufacturer of malted barley extract and other natural, nutritious sweeteners, is seeing an uptick in beverage-related inquiries for its Malt-Rite™ line of malt extract sweeteners, which have become increasingly popular ingredients in a wide variety of malt-based drinks. In addition to the generally heightened interest in plant-based, multi-functional ingredients, malt extract sweeteners also provide sector-specific benefits for a spectrum of beverage-industry items.
For example, nearly a third of consumers have increased their consumption of nutrition or performance beverages, and many are seeking products with ingredients deemed simple, natural or clean. Malt-based beverages offer not only unique flavor profiles and subtle sweetness but – unlike cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrups and artificial sweeteners – contains an abundance of antioxidants (five times the amount of broccoli) as well as essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber.
In addition, a trend already in full swing in Europe has been coming to America of late: the recognition that malt-based drinks offer superior sports recovery for athletes. Malt-based beverages for sports recovery are, essentially, non-alcoholic beer, which German Olympians are known to prefer. In the US, often unique flavors are added, both for extra sweetness and fruitier notes.
Another trend is the recognition by companies of the growing diversification of the US population. Malt-based beverages are extremely popular in Asia (such as Nestle’s Milo) and South & Central America (Malta). To grow their market share among expanding ethnic populations, US beverage companies are developing similar malt-based beverages that, particularly in these segments, enjoy a strong and positive association with health benefits.
Yet another trend is the popularity of fermented drinks, including kombucha and specialty teas, that reflect growing recognition of the importance of sustaining good gut microbes, known to reduce inflammatory diseases, type two diabetes and obesity. Malt is widely considered a substance that supports these helpful gut microbes.
A “Base for Malt-based” Beverages
Malt Product Corporation’s Malt-Rite™ is a malted barley extract serving as an ideal base for malt-based beverages. Malt extract is made by brewing the whole grain in the same way beer is made but skipping the fermentation step; once varying amounts of water is evaporated, the result is a syrupy liquid or soluble powder. This eliminates the need for a conventional brewing operation.
“For manufacturers, one advantage of using Malt-Rite malt extract is that you are not tied to a contract brewery, since it is already brewed and easily transported because the water has been evaporated,” said Amy Targan, President of Malt Products Corporation. “Since all that is needed is a bottling plant, this makes it far easier for a company to enter the market – a big plus for making niche malt-based drinks.”
While Targan notes that most inquiries from beverage companies have involved liquid malt extracts, soluble powder malt extract also is a viable option. Here, the company’s recently installed $15 million state-of-the-art vacuum belt dryer comes into play; in addition to giving MPC in-house flexibility for batch drying, the new dryer also produces powders far more soluble than traditional spray drying operations. Compared with spray drying, vacuum belt drying also comprises a gentler process that preserves the flavors and nutrients of the whole grain.