Taste isn’t the only improvement in plant-based meats that consumers crave. Clean label plant-based meat is another emerging trend that addresses consumers’ concerns over the long, complicated ingredient labels often found on plant-based meats. Shortening ingredient statements while maintaining an acceptable texture is the main challenge here. Plant-based meat that matches the nutrition of animal-based meat is also on the radar, especially for vitamin, mineral, and sodium content.
The buzz around environmentally sustainable proteins has been largely driven by Millennials but is also supported by Gen Z. Foods and beverages made with more sustainable proteins give consumers a way to support products that align with their values. Sustainable proteins might require less land or fresh water to produce or may be associated with fewer greenhouse emissions.
Protein from climate-resistant crops—such as indigenous, drought-tolerant millets in India and quinoa in Bolivia—can also be seen as more sustainable, as well as protein from animal agriculture more connected with the land, such as grass-fed dairy. Upcycled proteins (from food production side streams), proteins associated with regenerative agricultural practices, and marine-based proteins like algae can also have compelling sustainability stories.
Sports performance consumers are driving the demand for protein-based bioactives. This is due to the range of benefits they can provide related to muscle synthesis and endurance. However, weight management is another use for protein-based bioactives that has important mainstream applications—for example, milk protein isolate modified to reduce the rate of digestion and increase satiety. With obesity rates rising globally, the use of bioactives in weight loss products is a key opportunity area.
There are also protein-based bioactives to support immunity and even skin health. These bioactives aren’t limited to the food industry. Demand is also surging in the personal care market, where collagen-boosting bioactives are used in anti-aging facial products. Science-based skincare ingredients like these are especially popular among higher-income Asian countries.
Choosing the Right Protein Solution
While consumers’ protein needs may be diverse, there are fortunately many protein ingredients on the market to meet these needs—including protein concentrates, isolates, hydrolysates, and bioactives, available from both animal and plant sources. There are protein options suitable for all types of foods, beverages, and supplements, as well as personal care products.
The simplest approach to choosing the right protein ingredient for any product is to first determine which benefits are needed to make the best product for the target consumer. All proteins are not created equal. Differences in nutrient quality, functionality, flavor, cost, health benefits, and consumer perception will influence protein selection. What works the best in a nutrition bar may not be ideal for protein water or plant-based meat, for example.
In developing a new protein product or boosting the protein of an existing product, it can be helpful to lean on the ingredient supplier to learn about all the options available and the nuanced differences among them. To create protein products that will address today’s top global protein trends—from sustainable plant-based and dairy proteins to cutting-edge protein bioactives, choosing an ingredient supplier with protein R&D expertise is key.
Contact Glanbia Nutritionals to learn about choosing the right protein solution for your product.