Vitafoods 2018: ‘The consumer really is driving into plant-based’

Protein refreshment: Kerry eyes up growth of protein juice, water and energy drinks

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By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

With protein seeing continued interest from mainstream consumers, a new world of ‘protein refreshment’ is emerging, says Irish dairy and ingredients supplier Kerry – with increased demand for protein boosts in lighter, refreshing beverages such as water, juice and energy drinks.

Coupled with that is increased demand for plant-based, clean label products: the plant protein market is forecast to be worth more than €13m ($15.3m) by 2022.

Kerry’s vegan protein ProDiem Refresh is the first time that a convincing allergen free, plant-based protein has been developed for low pH beverages, according to Albert McQuaid, chief innovation officer, Kerry, speaking at Vitafoods in Geneva this month.

Plant protein power

As sports and performance nutrition continue to go mainstream, high protein products are increasingly being used not only to supplement exercise but also for satiety to support consumers’ busy lifestyles.

However, protein is moving beyond its traditional dairy applications: the plant protein market is forecast to be worth over €13m ($15.27m) by 2022, according to Mordor Intelligence.

And this market is appealing to vegetarians, vegans and mainstream consumers.

‘Protein refreshment’ refers to the growth of non-traditional protein beverages, such as water, juices and energy drinks – those with a low pH. The market value of protein water, for example, has increased by 563% (CAGR 2015-2017) in the US, according to Nielsen, while the functional waters market is set to double from €18bn ($21bn) to €36bn ($42bn) over the next five years.

“The consumer really is driving into plant-based: they’re looking at plant-based as a much more sustainable product,”​ said McQuaid.

“So we thought we’d jump ahead and look into that space.”


While there may be demand for protein refreshment, adding protein to low pH beverages while maintaining functionality and a good taste can be a challenge – even with dairy-based protein options - and Kerry felt there was a gap in the market in this respect.

In response it has developed ProDiem Refresh, which is made from a soluble pea protein hydrolysate, and with use in low pH beverages has a ‘clean taste and is light in texture’. It is dairy free, allergen free, gluten free, non GMO, Halal/Kosher, and clean label (no stabilizers are required).

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