I would respond that although the EU’s high meat-consumption habits of old are indeed beginning to wane, high-protein remains and will remain a hot topic for new food product formulators for some time to come.
As Michael Hiron, Volac’s head of Dairy & Lifestyle Ingredients says in Claire Phoenix’s report on healthy ingredients including protein in the next issue of Food & Beverage International: “Consumers are beginning to understand that protein has the ability to play a key role in optimal health, not only for sports professionals and elite athletes, but those living a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Michael goes on to emphasise that mainstream consumers (particularly women) continue to look towards protein to support their stamina and help them feel fuller for longer.
“Positive messages are being supported in the mainstream media with almost daily coverage around the importance of protein in the diet, particularly linked to the role that protein can play in addressing rising health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity,” he said.
Innova Market Insights data indicates 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. (At the bottom of this piece, you can find a list of just a few of the recent product launches published on FoodBev.com.)
Demand for whey protein is soaring as a result of growing demand in certain Asian markets, as well as its rising popularity as a natural, healthy ingredient, particularly for sportsmen and generally active consumers, medical and infant nutrition, and in weight management, according to Innova.
“The time is right for protein innovation,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. Lu Ann cites a number of drivers, including the need to feed a growing global population, an alarming rise in sarcopenia (declining muscle mass, particularly among an ageing population), and the economic and environmental costs of existing protein sources.
“Proteins have diverse application potential, with opportunities for alternative vegetarian options, and new protein sources – such as microalgae – alongside existing and novel dairy-based and vegetable sources, such as soy, beans and grains,” she said.
Although, as Datamonitor highlights, meat consumption in the EU has stagnated due to religious, cultural, ethical and environmental (as well as price) considerations: ‘Almost a third (31%) of global consumers choose to limit their intake of meat as consumers reduce rather than completely avoid meat,’ says Datamonitor. The FAO United Nations reports, at the same time, that global demand for animal proteins is expected to rise by over 30% by 2050.
Critically, as the FAO United Nations’ stresses, ‘Livestock occupies 70% of agricultural land, takes over 8% of human water usage and generates a high level of greenhouse gases’. So, there is little doubt that meat is not a very environmentally or resource-friendly source of protein. The need to move to alternative protein sources such as vegetables, grains and micro algae as, indicated by Innova, is therefore vital because there’s no way that the high-protein bandwagon is a short-term phenomenon. On the contrary – demand for protein is growing healthily and continues to represent an exciting area of opportunity for new product developers everywhere.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019