The Protein Mindset – compiled from an extensive survey conducted earlier this year – substantiated the consumer’s deeper focus on health and wellness thanks to the pandemic, and underscored protein’s growing role in this.
Be it plant, dairy or animal protein, all consumers agreed that proteins carry a ‘health halo’ delivering multiple benefits beyond general wellness, and country-specific findings showed that:
- Americans and Europeans correlate protein with weight management and building muscle;
- It has a strong association with digestive and gut health for Latin America consumers;
- Those in Asia-Pacific believe it is essential for better immunity, healthy ageing and a glowing skin.
The report drills down further into needs and wants:
The popularity of protein extends across mainstream and indulgent snacks and treats.
The ‘better-for-you’ and ‘clean label’ messages are highly important.
There is little doubt that waves of veganism will continue to get stronger, and plant proteins are well positioned to unlock further growth. In fact, consumers around the globe accept plants as a source of ethical and sustainable protein. They have become a key innovation strategy in the protein-fortification space, with launches of snacks containing plant proteins growing by 49% between 2018 and 2020.
However, familiarity significantly drives the appeal of the various protein sources, so trending are sources such as nuts, lentils, soy and oats. Less well known for its nutritional properties are sources like canola, hemp, algae and casein. This holds vast potential for future innovation and product differentiation.
Provenance is also growing in importance – consumers want to know the back story of the goods they consume.
More than half of global consumers are happy to pay a 10% premium for high protein snacks, while an additional 15% would be willing to pay a 25% premium.
Taste is still considered the number one criterion 65%), but the quality of protein comes in a close second (59%) when it comes to driving the purchase decision. The use of natural ingredients (57%) and price (55%) also play a role.
Proactive vs reactive
“Accelerated by COVID-19 and consumer focus on health and rising interest in proactive – versus reactive – nutrition, rapid change has occurred recently in food and beverage markets around the world as broader awareness of the many benefits of protein increasingly drives purchase decisions among mainstream consumers,” said Soymya Nair, author of the report and global director, Consumer Research and Insights, Kerry.
“This extensive Kerry research puts protein foods and beverages squarely under a microscope to understand where the opportunities lie for brands to innovate.
“There is little doubt the protein revolution in food and beverages offers exciting and dynamic opportunities for all product developers. This timely report provides a range of insights to consider incorporating within their short- and long-term product planning and development processes.”
When it comes to the consumer’s favoured go to source for a protein hit, Kerry found that high frequency breakfast goods like cereals, granola bars and yoghurts hit the mark, as well as indulgent treats like bread, cookies, sweet biscuits, ice crease and frozen yoghurt.
The most sought out claims included ‘high quality protein’ and ‘complete protein’, ‘no added sugar’ or ‘reduced sugar’ and ‘100% natural’, ‘no additives/preservatives/colours’ and made with real ingredients.
Concluding the report are five ‘tip of the iceberg’ opportunities for innovation, and how Kerry – a cutting-edge taste and nutrition partner with a 1,100-strong team of food scientists and experts at its fingertips – can support product developers.