Protein: Getting it Right

So you want to be the office Trend Guru, right? Our monthly trends posts will certainly have you turning heads at product development meetings. This month we are diving into a hot topic that is the center of health and wellness – protein. It may come and go in favor but right now, consumers across the country are seeking products with high protein claims to curb hunger between meals and for meal replacement. Let’s take a look at what is guiding their choices with some unique options as well.

High Protein is Highly Satisfying

Consumers looking to make a change in their health and wellness usually go on a diet. Sometimes considered a four-letter word, the meaning of diet has come a long way from the days of cottage cheese and dry salad. Consumers are finally catching on that starvation and denial isn’t the key to long-term health but an overall health consciousness is. For many, eating more protein is a big part of achieving their health and wellness or weight loss goal. Forty percent of US consumers feel high protein (HP) food and drink products keep them satisfied longer and 37% feel that a high protein product builds more muscle.1 So, what are consumers’ options for healthy proteins and what’s on the horizon?

Making Good Choices

When it comes to protein, there is high quality and low quality but what consumers think is high quality sometimes conflicts with what dietitians define it as. According to a recent study conducted by nutrition trade magazine Today’s Dietitian, most consumers view animal-based protein, such as meat, fish and poultry, as high-quality, but nutrition pros rank them differently, recommending (in order) fish and seafood, eggs, legumes and nuts, poultry and dairy as healthy, high-quality proteins, followed by soy.2 Red meat is considered less healthy among the nutrition pros, most likely due to the saturated fat, cholesterol and high environmental demands required to produce beef. With consumer confusion can come poor choices.

But there is always a positive. Sales of high protein bars, shakes, cereals and snacks are higher than ever and are only expected to continue to climb as manufacturers continue to innovate with unique flavor combinations in these areas. And this fits right in with the consumers’ obsession with snacking where incorporating protein becomes easy, which we alluded to in our 2015 trends post.

A Bugs Life

Finally, we can’t have a post about protein and ignore the most talked about alternative protein that is giving some consumers the chills. We’re talking insect protein and more than 2 billion consumers worldwide make it a part of their daily diet.3 This is a trend that is slowly crawling (pun intended) into the American diet for some early adopters but we don’t expect it to become mainstream anytime soon. For now, check out Chapul’s The Original Cricket Energy Bar as seen on Shark Tank. In flavors like Peanut Butter and Chocolate or Dark Chocolate, Coffee and Cayenne, the bars feature cricket flour.

Whether you want your protein in the form of an occasional juicy steak or chicken burger, a blended shake or an insect-loaded chocolate bar, the options are plentiful. Want to meet for a grasshopper taco? Throw that one out at your next meeting – guaranteed Trend Guru status.



  1. Mintel Serves Up 5 Key Food & Drink Trends For 2015