Quark – the New Low, Fat, Low Salt, and Low Sugar Healthy Protein

In my last article, I wrote about Creme Budwig wherein one of the central ingredients is quark.   I had never heard of let alone tried quark.   My girlfriend in London told me it’s the best and healthiest new dairy protein on the market.  I found it easily in the grocery store in London and Geneva.  And I am loving the taste.  I even used it on nachos as a sub for sour cream!  For the lactose intolerant one can buy goat milk quark from Whole Foods!

And if you are worried about eating dairy – remember ladies, the woman who eat full fat dairy – strange though it may seem – have an easier time conceiving.  Look it up.  Dairy keeps you fertile.  And lactic acid is wonderful for the skin!  (Even applied on the exterior as those of you who have read this site know…)

But what is quark exactly and why is it so damn good for you? 

I found this fascinating article by Diana Cowland which explains everything and makes me want to eat quark every day.

Quark, a fresh dairy product and a regular part of the Eastern European diet—often eaten for breakfast on its own or mixed with sour cream or yogurt and with a topping of fruit, cucumber or even just a sprinkling of salt and pepper—has a very high protein but low fat, sugar and salt content. Its protein content reaches 13.6 grams per 100 grams in some variants in comparison to Greek yogurt brand Chobani’s 8.2 grams per 100 grams.

Protein, in particular, holds an attraction for consumers looking for a more passive approach to weight management by maintaining or losing weight through more natural and long-term means, rather than a quick fix.

Limited Use of Quark Outside Eastern Europe
Many consumers outside Eastern Europe, however, had until recently never heard of quark, but this is starting to change as it is increasingly added to shopping baskets thanks to its high protein content. One such example is the U.K., where variants are now present in all the leading retailers. As such, quark has the potential to be the next on-trend, high-protein satiating health food. Euromonitor International researches sales of fromage frais and quark combined. Global sales reached $10.3 billion in 2012, up by 20% in current terms from 2007.

Greek Yogurt Riding High but Quark Contains 150% More Protein
Consumers in Western Europe and North America are becoming more sophisticated. The consumption of reduced-fat yogurt in Western Europe, for example, is expected to decline over 2012-2017 as people move away from buying diet-specific products to taking a more holistic approach to improving their nutritional intake. Yogurt is a key driver of this trend as consumers are looking for high-protein breakfast foods to start the day.

In the U.S., Chobani, a low-fat Greek product, has grown enormously since its launch in 2007, and in 2012 held a 20% value share of the yogurt category. However, often when the fat content of yogurt is lowered, the sugar content is increased to maintain the flavor. For example, Danone’s Shape Greek-style yogurts contain 18.2 grams of sugar in each 125-gram pot.

Quark, on the other hand, fits the bill as a “better-for-you” alternative. It is made by warming soured milk until the desired degree of denaturation of milk proteins is met, and then strained. Unlike other types of cheese, it usually has no salt added to it during the manufacturing process. The brand Meadow Churn, available in the U.K. for example, contains an impressive 13.6 grams of protein per 100 grams but just 0.2 grams of fat and 0.04 grams of salt.

As a result, quark could not only be a breakfast alternative but also a high-protein satiating afternoon snack for those looking for replacements for spreadable cheeses or may even be used to make healthier versions of desserts, including cheesecake, or even a favorite pasta dish such as macaroni and cheese.

Quark Boasts More Nutritional Benefits than Cottage Cheese
Many American consumers looking for a healthy, high-protein snack turn to cottage cheese, with Dean’s Low Fat Small Curd cottage cheese for example containing 11.5 grams of protein per 100 grams. However, with a much higher salt content than quark, this variant has 424 mg per 100 grams, nearly double that given in the Dietary Guidelines—those consumers concerned about their cardiovascular health may well be less inclined to buy it. Dean’s sales of cottage cheese in fact declined by a CAGR of 4.6% over 2007-2012.

Multinationals Buying Leading Eastern European Brands
Leading Russian quark brands such as Domik v Derevne and Prostokvashino have both been bought by multinational players—the former by PepsiCo Inc in 2011 and the latter by Groupe Danone in 2010. Both of these companies have a very strong consumer base behind their well-known global yogurt brands and as such promoting a new product extension would surely hold few obstacles. It also presents the opportunity to extend the product line by offering fortified variants through, for example, the addition of fruit-based toppings. In 2012, fortified/functional fromage frais and quark sales reached $1.4 billon, witnessing just a 7% increase on 2007.

Quark, with its greater range of uses in comparison to its protein rival Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, has the potential to widen its geographical consumer base by offering a “better-for-you” satiating dairy alternative. And as the interest from consumers and manufacturers in on-trend protein shows no signs of slowing down due to its highly satiating properties, time is on quark’s side.

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