Recent data from Datamonitor showed protein’s healthy halo is attracting consumer attention and interest in protein has grown faster than interest in almost any other nutrient or ingredient. In fact, 33 percent of consumers said protein is an ingredient of concern to them when reading product labels, and close to 25 percent said products with high-protein claims have a high to very high amount of influence on their purchasing decision.
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) named protein as one of 2014’s functional food trends that will likely shape the industry in the coming years. The protein market is still center stage with 57 percent of consumers, especially between the ages of 18 and 34 and above age 65, seeking protein sources to maintain healthy bones/joints, strengthen immune systems, and build muscle strength and tone while maintaining energy throughout the day.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 3 g per day for children ages 1 to 3 years, 46 g per day for women aged 19 to 70 years, and up to 56 g per day for men up to and beyond age 70. According to the NPD Group, nearly 80 percent of U.S. consumers want more protein in their diets and look to a wide range of sources to meet their needs. Interestingly, about half of consumers said non-meat sources are best and the other half consider meat and fish the best sources of protein.
Consumers willing to look beyond meat in order to meet their protein needs are motivated by health-related reasons. Protein has experienced substantial growth recently, marked by an unprecedented increase in consumers’ perceived deficiency of the nutrient, a growing awareness and usage of plant-based protein, and the resulting proliferation of protein-rich and protein-enriched products across an array of food and beverage categories.
However, growth in the past 12 months is down. Despite growth in the past five years, consumers’ general knowledge about protein’s health benefits, especially those beyond muscle-maintenance/building, is severely lacking, representing an opportunity for protein food/beverage product manufacturers. In addition, shifts are being observed across categories, with some peaking and/or declining.
Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) President and Managing Partner Maryellen Molyneaux recently authored the article “Consumer Protein Trends" for Natural Products INSIDER discussing this essential nutrient. I invite you to click on the link above to read about the about protein’s migration from niche to mainstream; the shift in usage of protein types; the increased demand; the perceived health benefits of protein; and more.