Consumer online searches for ‘plant-based’ tripled, protein powder dominates category

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Orgain, Vega top selling plant-based products online

Related tags 2016 Protein

As more consumers try to add more plants into their diets, plant-based protein is a shining star in the emerging category, making up the majority of both online searches and sales for ‘plant-based’ products, according to one research firm.

The ‘plant-based’ trend isn’t exclusive to dietary supplements—with everything from food and beverage, to personal care products, to disposable utensils also in on the trend.

But it may feel so, as plant-based protein powder made up 78% of all online ‘plant-based’ sales in the 52 weeks ending July 2017, according to market research firm 1010data. The numbers are an aggregation of multiple online merchants, like Amazon, Walmart, Jet, and Boxed.

Additionally, searches for ‘plant-based’ in these online retail platforms tripled from March 2016 to July 2017.

Manufacturers are taking note, novel plant proteins come to market

“Consumers are getting more conscious. They’re mindful of the products they put in and on their bodies and the environmental impact they have,”​ according to a report by the data firm. “As this consciousness increases, manufacturers are taking note.”

For those who frequent the trade shows, it’s easy to see that, indeed, manufacturers are taking note. While pea protein​has skyrocketed into the poster child of plant proteins, pushing soy off its throne​, manufacturers are now looking at novel sources to differentiate themselves in the crowded space.

As an example, at the SupplySide West 2017 two weeks ago, Lesaffre Human Care​, the nutritional ingredients business unit of yeast giant Lessafre, announced a new yeast-derived protein ingredient called Proteyn (technically not a plant as yeast is a fungus, but it's a dairy alternative nonetheless).

Then there’s the Minnesota-based start-up Zea10​, which introduced barley-derived protein ingredients Orzate and Beretein.

Orgain, Vega top sellers: Powders on the rise

According to 1010data’s numbers, liquid plant protein (ready-to-drink beverages) made up only 5% of plant-based sales compared to 78% for powders.

Without specifying sales numbers or volume, the report indicated that top selling brands are Orgain, Vega, Garden of Life, Sunwarrior, and MRM.

The firm’s findings echo consumer research done by Chicago-based CBD Marketing​, which found that, to most Millennial consumers, powders and beverages are the favorite way to consume supplements​, especially when compared to taking a pill.

While the two are interchangeable to many consumers, the appeal powder has over RTD beverages is the customization possibility and the value component, as buying a tub of powder may cost less per serving than a bottled protein beverage.

“[Powders] are a lot less scary,” said Sarah Flagg, senior account executive at CBD Marketing. “If you put it in a smoothie, it’s not scary anymore, but taking a pill, there’s a negative connotation.”​​

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