Consumers want more protein in their diets because of its role in satiety, weight loss and health.
While they want most of it in the form of animal protein, they are increasingly seeking it out in packaged goods.
About half of U.S. consumers purchase protein-enriched foods, according to The NPD Group. What’s more, one in five say they have paid more for protein-enriched items.
Protein-enriched foods are growing in popularity because they appeal to many demographics, from weight-conscious males to women and children, said Natalie Tremellen, market analyst at Innova Market Insights.
Manufacturers are responding.
New product launches with a high/source of protein positioning increased by 33% in 2014 versus 2013, with continued growth anticipated, according to Innova.
The success of Greek yogurt was one of the main drivers behind the growth of products with protein claims in the U.S. Protein claims have since emerged for a wide variety of products from various market categories.
Cereal/food bars were the leading category last year, accounting for 12.6% of high-protein new product launches, followed by yogurt (7.8%), sports bars (6.9%) and breakfast cereals (4.2%).
Among the protein-packed items on store shelves: Kellogg’s Special K Protein Cereal, which boasts 10g protein; Cheerios Protein, 11grams with milk; and Fiber One protein bars.
There are plenty of other products, from Luke’s Organic multigrain & seeds chips to V8 protein shakes.
Private labels are also involved. For instance, Safeway offers a private label milk called Lucerne Plus Protein that contains 30% more protein and 30% less sugar than skim milk.
Safeway also has introduced high-protein frozen entrees under its "Eating Right" private label. “Eating Right for High Protein” frozen entrees each have at least 20 grams of protein and less than 15 net carbs.
Consumer would like to see more of other types of protein-enriched foods, including bagels and frozen foods, according to NPD.
The greatest challenge for new high-protein products , however, is to get noticed.
Packaged goods manufacturers need to inform consumers about what a great source of protein their product is, and why it matters to their health, noted Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.
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