Retailers should cater to lifestyle diets and focus on protein, said panelists at SN’s Natural Products Expo East track in Baltimore.
Now that the protein craze has gone mainstream, Ronak Sheth, chief product officer of FoodEssentials, said he was seeing an increase in protein innovation and marketing in categories like cereal and Greek yogurt.
Suppliers are finding new places to tuck in protein. Sheth pointed to protein drinks that combine 100% whey isolate (high in protein) with either a Gatorade-like base or coconut water.
New products at Natural Products Expos — East and West — show a lot more products incorporating protein-high ingredients like chia, quinoa and pea, and an emerging number of products using beans, cranberry and lentils, according to panelist Eric Pierce, director of strategy and insights, New Hope Natural Media.
The panelists also said that reaching out to niche “food tribes” like vegans and people who follow the Paleo diet can result in reaching a greater group of health-oriented consumers who follow some aspects of these diets. The Paleo diet — which encourages a diet similar to cavemen — is even getting the attention of nonfood suppliers; Reebok has its own bacon that fits the diet's standards and is free of MSG, nitrites, nitrates, natural sweeteners and natural preservatives.
Citing a Nutrition Business Journal estimate, Pierce said that natural and organic sales have a 11.7% growth, compared to total food sales growth of 4.2%. Vegetarian and vegan sales are 22.9% and expected to triple by 2018, while Paleo sales have gone up by 56.3% and are expected to quadruple by 2018.
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