The strange new world of mainstream protein
The shift of protein from niche to mainstream is well underway with more products moving through retail channels than ever before. This means that not only is there more protein in the market but also greater variety as brands scramble to differentiate themselves in a market that is both expanding in scale and value. As a result this is driving some truly innovative new product development which demands ever more innovative protein ingredients. Market analysts forecast the global protein ingredient market to grow at a CAGR of 6.03 percent over the period 2013-2018.
Michael Hiron, Head of Dairy and Lifestyle Ingredients for Volac comments on the growing demand:
As the demand for more convenience in protein consumption continues we are seeing a proliferation of new product formulations to meet the growing needs of today’s taste and convenience savvy consumers. Whey proteins are becoming increasingly popular in everyday products.
Mainstream consumers are also increasingly looking more towards protein as they believe this supports stamina and makes them feel fuller for longer, while at the same time providing a nutrient rich dairy alternative to high sugar content snacks and beverages.
Food manufacturers and Sports Nutrition brand owners are becoming more creative and advanced in product development, and Volac’s high-performing Volactive UltraWhey proteins are an ideal solution for this fast expanding market. I am always on the lookout for new customers who are pushing boundaries and bringing new concepts of protein fortified products to the market. The successful launch of protein ice-cream from Wheyhey is a great example of where two young guys had an idea and have persevered through the ups and downs of starting up their own business to create a truly wonderful award-winning product that has a cult-like following.
Food retailers and manufacturers are beginning to recognise there is a much bigger role for protein in living a healthy active life; this is largely being driven by the normalisation of protein and the market shift from the niche body-building and elite athlete market into a more every day exercise and health nutrition market.
The appetite for protein, particularly dairy protein, will continue to drive the Sports Nutrition category but it is really good to see more products crossing over into the mainstream market such as Upbeat, our high protein drink made from fresh liquid whey.“
Formulation advantages of dairy proteins
With the concept of a healthy and active lifestyle being continually redefined, people are basing their nutritional needs on their individual lifestyle choice. Whether muscle support, healthy ageing or weight management, protein fortified foods are driving the general nutritional trend.
Dairy-derived proteins are high in essential amino acids and have a distinct nutritional advantage over other protein sources. This is because whey proteins offer formulation advantages in a wide range of products from ice cream to breakfast cereal. Glanbia Nutritionals have developed a range of next generation whey protein isolate ingredients with taste and texture in mind such as Hydrovon which is suited for both sports and everyday use.
Milk proteins are extremely popular for the greater nutritional equilibrium they provide. With a light milky taste, they present a good amino acid profile and offer heat stability for drinks and innovative formats such as cookies and soups. Micellar casein offers a slow digestion rate for the steady release of protein, making it an optimum formulation for post work out recovery products.
Other key innovations include harnessing the power of whey peptides, to deliver amino acids such as Leucine. Technical advances achieved by Glanbia Nutritionals in sport nutrition can be successfully adapted for products targeting mainstream consumer groups. Ideal for muscle maintenance technology such as PepForm Leucine peptides is highly functional as small quantities can be incorporated or built into a variety of everyday products.
On-the-go drinks, meals and snacks are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their convenience as they are easy to fit into busy lifestyles. Key advancements BarPro and BarGain allow manufacturers to add sought-after nutritious protein ingredients to bars without compromising taste and texture. Ingredients such as Solmiko milk proteins and BevWise pre-acidified whey protein isolates enable a new set of flavours in low PH drinks while keeping the focus on consumers’ needs for enriched protein functionality.
Getting active with collagen
The diversifying market is also seeing new opportunities to exploit the benefits in dairy protein alternatives such as solutions for lifestyle or dietary needs (lactose intollerance/vegan). We recently came across YouTheory Anti-Aging Protein at Natural & Organic Products Europe which combines both whey and collagen. Mai Nygaard, global product manager for Rousselot’s Peptan® explains further the potential for collagen protein in active nutrition.
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Diet and nutrition are critical to achieving optimal athletic performance. Sports enthusiasts therefore commonly rely on specialist nutritional products to deliver the essential nutrients they require during and after exercise. With the market for these products increasingly moving from niche to mainstream, a great deal of research is currently being conducted into the potential of novel ingredients, such as collagen peptides, to support the goals of both professional and recreational athletes.
Essential for building muscle mass and recovery after exercise, protein is a vital ingredient in sports nutrition. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is a key constituent of all connective tissue. Collagen peptides are the hydrolyzed form of collagen.
Characterized by a unique combination of key amino acids, Rousselot’s Peptan collagen peptides are high digestible and bioactive ingredients which offer a variety of nutritional properties not found with other protein sources. The innovative ingredients are highly effective at rapidly delivering essential amino acids to the body and provide numerous athletic performance benefits.
A crucial area for the sports nutrition market is recovery. During and after long periods of exercise protein loss occurs in the muscles; to ensure optimum recovery, this must be replaced. Athletes therefore need higher quantities of protein in comparison to average requirements – up to 2-3 g/kg of bodyweight per day compared to the typically recommended 0.8 g/kg.
To ensure efficient uptake, protein used in sports nutrition formulations need to be easily digestible and highly bioavailable. This makes collagen peptides an ideal solution.
Peptan collagen peptides naturally contain a high concentration of glycine, alanine, glutamic acid and arginine. These amino acids are closely involved in the body’s energy supply and metabolism, helping boost athletic performance.
What’s more, the uniquely high levels of glycine and arginine found in collagen peptides may support the synthesis of creatine in the body. This molecule can aid muscular contraction during high intensity exercise and also helps replace depleted adenosine triphosphate levels – a compound that is necessary for muscular function.
Research continues into the ways in which collagen peptides can enhance athletic performance. Suitable for use in sports bars, drinks and supplements, Peptan is a key component in many protein blends targeted for sports nutrition. It is also a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution for manufacturers aiming to create effective products which appeal to both professional and recreational sportsmen and -women.”
Protein Product Innovation
Despite the shift, protein remains most commonly associated with bodybuilding. Whilst many consumers could benefit from a higher ratio of protein in their diets, the very mention of protein is often met with a response such as “I don’t want to be/look like a bodybuilder“. So the challenge for companies developing this new market is to effectively break that association with supplementation all together and find ways to normalise protein by successfully introducing it into common every day products.
Wheyhey Protein Push-Up’s are the latest innovation from a brand which has become the poster child for the new wave of protein products aimed to make protein consumption a more normal part of every day diets and consumer shopping choices, as Co-Founder Greg Duggan explained at BodyPower Expo 2014 (read more). Launching in June 2014 the frozen yoghurt lollies are both fat and sugar free with 12g of whey protein isolate per 100ml, available in vanilla, coconut and blueberry.
Protein Bites have garnered a great deal of attention in 2014. At FIBO it was hard to turn and not see someone eating them. Then at Vitafoods 2014 this was possibly the most talked about product at the show. Some of this attention was due to the flavour of older versions of the product which have since been twice reformulated. It’s always easier to drive from the back seat after someone has taken the first steps, but ultimately Protein Bites have encouraged healthy debate around a category which until now has not existed. At the BodyPower Expo Press Launch, CEO Andrew Coulson explained that he feels the key to the success of this new market is to align with existing consumer buying habits (read more). Protein Bites are extruded snacks available in Sour Cream & Onion, Grilled Children, and Peri Peri Chilli with 20-12g of soy protein per 40.5g packet.
Dr Zac’s Protein Bread contains 214g of whey protein isolate per loaf meaning that two slices provides over 30g of protein which is an average-high quantity of protein compared to what you might find in a scoop of an average protein powder. Protein bread also contains linseed (flax seed), an important source of Omega 3 which aids the digestion process. Not only does protein bread provide an opportunity to increase the protein content in what is a common household staple food, it also makes it somewhat more appealing to athletes that may have avoided bread altogether in the past due to its high carb and low protein content.
Twist combines Colombian coffee granules with 17 grams of whey protein. Given that many use protein supplements in pre/post workout nutrition, the natural combination of coffee and protein seems a very logical move. In fact even Starbucks have experimented with including whey in coffee in the past. From a flavour perspective it also makes for a perfect combination and a very welcome change from the usual milkshake flavours associated with protein. The format of the product itself is very appealing. The user simply adds water to powered contents then replaces the lid and shakes. The bottle features a patented grill which has the bottle act as a mini shaker ensuring a smooth drink. Such a patent could prove hugely valuable to Twist Drinks and it ensures freshness at the point of consumption. The product is amongst a new wave affecting a shift in protein to remove the immediate sport nutrition/bodybuilding association making it something of a more normal drink choice with a focus upon nutritional content (read more).