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World: Market to see more high protein products with alternatives, analyst tells FNI

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Innova Market Insights shared about the growing market interest in high protein products and lines with show visitors at IFT Food Expo in New Orleans, US from June 21 to 24, 2014.

The company said such growing market interest is fuelled by consumers’ health concerns, sports and active living, the Paleo diet that focuses on lean protein, a growing global population, a rise in sarcopenia (declining muscle mass, particularly among an aging population), and the economic and environmental costs of existing protein sources.

Protein types

Its data indicate that nearly 3% of global food and beverage launches in the 12 months ending 31 March, 2014, were marketed on a “high-protein” or “source-of-protein” positioning, rising to 6% in the US.

The demand for whey protein specifically is soaring as a result of growing demand in certain Asian markets, as well as its rising popularity as a natural, healthy ingredient, particularly in sports, medical and infant nutrition, and in weight management.

While vegetables lead the list for the number of published protein patents in food and drinks, whey has risen from eighth position in 2012 to third position in 2013.

At the same time, the number of nut and seed protein patents has also risen sharply, from single figures in 2012 to more than 200 in 2013.

In addition, there is a strong activity in patent actions relating to algae-derived proteins.

Food News International finds out more from director of innovation Lu Ann Williams.

FNI: Which countries are demanding more protein products?

Williams: In the short term, the demand should grow for developed nations such as the US and the UK for example, which already have well-established markets for protein.

Consumers there are already familiar with protein and its associated health benefits due to sports performance products becoming more mainstream and the proliferation of Greek yogurt options, which are often positioned on a higher protein platform to regular yogurt.

FNI organic dry soy beans

FNI: What is the demand for protein in countries that predominantly have a plant-based diet?

Williams: It will be interesting to see what happens in regard to protein demand in Asia. In many Asian countries, alternative protein options to animal proteins such as soy, seaweed and pulses form a part of the daily diet.

Asians may be more willing to embrace newer, alternative protein sources such as microalgae.

With younger generations wanting more westernized lifestyles that include Western food habits, it is possible that their demand for animal protein sources may increase in the near future.

FNI: What is the relationship between the demand for high protein and developed nations?

Williams: Consumers from these nations are more likely to be able to afford to buy protein products on a regular basis.

They have more disposable income to buy added value products containing protein for weight management, sports performance and general health benefits.

FNI: How receptive are manufacturers exploring protein sources such as artificial meat and insects?

Williams: There seems to be considerable innovation occurring from various research establishments with sustainability at the forefront of new product development.

For now, I think insects may be a challenge for manufacturers to really consider seriously, but laboratory-produced burgers that look and taste like meat may be embraced, as we have already seen the success of mycoprotein products for example, in various markets.

FNI: Do you think there will be a growing demand for alternative sources of protein such as artificial meat and insects?

Williams: Some markets, where insect consumption is already practiced and is culturally accepted, may be able to get consumers on board.

However, I think it will be hard for consumers from other markets to try these alternatives, where it is not practiced.

I see artificial sources of protein having more chance of growth.

FNI: With more products being launched as “high-protein” and “source-of-protein”, what are the possible risks food manufacturers have to take note of?

Williams: Consumers may want more ingredient transparency in regard to protein sourcing and manufacturers may have to provide information accordingly.

An over consumption of protein could also be a problem for consumers, with protein being present in a wider and increasing variety of foods and beverages.

To manage these risks, manufacturers will have to provide clear communication on packaging regarding guideline daily amount’s for protein content and possible health warnings.