According to a new market report, the industry response to product development addressing weight control or management has never been stronger with food giants Nestlé and Kellogg taking a lead in providing complete nutritional, calorie-reduced replacement meal products.
In a sector globally estimated to be worth €13.7bn ($16bn), the report authors 3A Business Consulting believe protein is a key purchasing factor in most weight management products with protein content often shown on product labelling.
Along with products designed to maintain energy, strength and function as part of a healthy ageing lifestyle, the combined usage of dairy and plant proteins for these two sectors is estimated to be over 100,000 metric tons (MT).
Sports nutrition consumers ‘fussier’
“Weight management products often label protein content on the face of the product along with calorie and sugar content, the latter due to sugar now widely considered the main culprit of obesity,” the report said.
“In healthy ageing, protein is also a crucial component preventing age-related muscle loss and preserve strength as we age.
“Sports nutrition consumers are generally fussier than weight management consumers in terms of the type of protein consumed with whey protein considered the premium muscle building protein.
“However, in weight management and healthy ageing products, milk proteins and caseinates are more common given their properties as a slowly digested protein, providing a sustained release of protein to the body over time, and promoting satiety.”
Amongst key players in the weight management space, include Nestlé with its Boost brand, a line of nutritional drinks, which provide extra nutrition to fill gaps in their diets, who have lost their appetite, and individuals who have difficulty preparing meals.
Boost products, which are only available in the US, can be used as a mini meal or as a between-meal snack and contain vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin D.
Closer to home, Heinz made available in July 2016, its Weight Watcher range of sweet biscuits and cookies that use pea protein as its protein source of choice.
Other weight management products that use plant proteins include Norway’s Amway, which introduced a weight management soup mix to the market in November 2017. This mix uses soy protein as its primary protein source.
The market report ‘Dairy and Plant Proteins in Weight Management and Healthy Ageing 2018-2022’ adds that healthy ageing products are often calorie-dense to maintain bone and muscle mass (prevent sarcopenia) in the elderly, often lacking the appetite to eat enough calories leading to loss of lean muscle tissue.
The report highlights the format of healthy ageing products, which typically come in nutritional, ready-to-drink format to supplement diets with key nutrients like protein, calcium and certain vitamins and minerals.
It cites Abbott as an example of a firm catering to the Healthy Ageing consumer with its Ensure and Glucerna brands.
The US-based food maker have in recent years transitioned products from a clinical nutrition positioning to being available for purchase in stores and online.
“Plant-based foods and beverages have been singled out as the number one food trend in 2018 and plant-based proteins are significantly used in weight management and healthy ageing alongside dairy proteins,” the report concluded.
“Soy proteins are common, whereas other plant-based proteins such as pea and rice proteins have only more recently emerged."