These are an increasing interest in health and fitness, heart health concerns and the growing consumer correlation of beauty and healthy eating.
Dr Satish Lele, senior vice-president, Frost & Sullivan, highlighted these factors in his presentation on global and regional protein insights and trends at the recent Protein Now event, organised by NZMP, the ingredients brand of New Zealand-based dairy manufacturer Fonterra.
The first driver he highlighted was an increasing focus on health and fitness, which is leading to the fortification of more foods with protien..
“It is not only athletes who have this desire to remain fit,” Dr Lele said.
“Consumers are also increasingly feeling the drive to stay fit through active lifestyles and nutritious diets. This is happening everywhere, not just across Asia. People are moving to less and less sedentary lifestyles.”
Also, since obesity is one of the leading public health concerns globally, proteins are being linked to weight management. Terefore, protein ingredients are well-positioned to successfully help in addressing this issue, he explained.
Heart health concerns are also driving protein consumption, because cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death across APAC.
“Protein ingredients are gaining traction in medical foods for diabetics as it helps in regulating blood glucose level,” Dr Lele revealed.
“Also, a growing array of scientific evidence about health benefits offered by proteins is driving its use in functional foods.”
Lastly, beauty and protein are correlated, said Dr Lele, because research pointed to an increasing consumer link between beauty and healthy eating.
Protein is being seen by slender Asian populations as a method of achieving better body structure – bulking up for men and contouring for women, said Dr Lele.
The rising popularity of gyms in the region is also driving protein uptake, with cross fit movements seen as key factors spurring protein’s popularity.
And as anti-ageing interest in Asia peaks, demand for collagen, a structural protein vital for skin elasticity and maintaining firmness is also increasing.
“Specifically in Asia-Pacific, what we find is that the Asian consumers are very conscious about looking good, and we see more and more consumers willing to spend that extra amount of money in relation to how they can improve their physical appearance,” Dr Lele said.
“So it’s a very active area that we see specifically in this part of the world, where you can communicate these benefits related to protein.”