“High-quality” protein demand set to boom: Report

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Protein, Nutrition

Quality protein has a bright future, but challenges remain
Quality protein has a bright future, but challenges remain
The rise of protein as a nutrient that can assist weight management will drive the quality protein market to new heights, according to a new report.

The most health-conscious consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of protein in the diet, specifically in relation to weight management,”​ Julian Mellentin, the author of the report, ‘Protein power – new foods, new markets’ writes.

“The image of protein as a body-builder’s food is changing and protein is making headway in products aiming for a wider consumer audience.”

‘Normal people’ to drive market to €1.71bn by 2020

Mellentin writes that while the audience is widening, the demand for quality is increasing.

“Protein’s appeal is growing among ‘normal people” with some of the more health-conscious people consuming more protein, but with a focus on leaner and higher-quality sources. This trend has already helped drive the growth of brands such as Quorn, which uses protein from a novel source, and we estimate novel proteins will become a $2.5 billion (€1.71bn) business within this decade.”

The report fingers China, India and other “newly-wealthy countries” ​as markets where animal protein demand is registering strong growth and set to continue, along with price hikes, that will bring other sources into play.

Already-surging prices for animal proteins – which reached record highs in 2010 – are forecast to increase. This will create consumer demand for alternative sources of protein that are more affordable than animal sources.”

Mainstreaming protein

Mellentin warns dairy industry ambitions of “mainstreaming protein”​ are yet some way off.

It has been an ambition for a decade but most protein-fortified products remain niche and attempts to create mainstream products have largely failed. Taste, consumer unfamiliarity with protein in the formats being offered – as well as strongly-held expectations about the meal formats where protein should be found – have all kept the “mainstreaming of protein” to a slower pace than industry would like.”

The report contends that protein-fortified products continue to suffer from taste and texture issues and that choosing the right format remains key.

Most companies have focused on bars and beverages as a source of a high dose of protein, but they are not formats that have a strong association in people’s minds (outside the sports niche) with protein.”

“They are still a new and unfamiliar way of getting protein, in the minds of most consumers, and this has been an important factor in the slow development of the market. Creating consumer acceptance of these ‘new’ formats will take time and a much greater investment in marketing and in consumer education than any company has been willing to make so far. In practice, some formats may never be suitable vehicles for delivering protein. One example is water, a format that has already been tried, without any success, several times in many markets.”

Because consumers are more comfortable with proteins in the food formats where they currently expect to find protein – meals, soups – than with ‘novel’ formats such as bars and beverages, the growth opportunities for new products will initially have to come from the ‘lifestyle consumer' segment.”

More about the report can be found here.

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