Jumping on the protein bandwagon

It’s not all that long ago that sports nutrition and protein products were considered the preserve of athletes and bodybuilders. These days, however, it seems everyone wants a slice of the action.

Indeed, Mintel research finds that three in five (61%) men aged 16-34 and two in five (40%) women aged 16-34 use sports nutrition products.

Currently, the top three sports nutrition products used by Brits are protein bars (11%), protein powders for a drink (10%) and energy bars (9%). However, many brands have been jumping on the protein bandwagon, with launches of added protein products geared towards those looking to increase their protein intake.

Recent launches include Warburton’s four-strong range of added protein bread products comprising of loaves, wraps, rolls and thins; Weetabix Protein, which was the biggest selling launch of 2016 in cereals; and Arla’s Protein range, which continues to expand and includes yogurt and cottage cheese, among other products.

Mintel confirms usage of high protein food and drink is strong: three in 10 (29%) Brits have eaten or drunk high protein food or drink products in 2017, with 28 per cent of Brits saying that products with added protein are a good alternative to eating foods naturally high in protein.

Anita Winther, research analyst at Mintel, says, “The sports nutrition category continues to grow in popularity. A new ideal appears to be rising that sidelines the waiflike figures common among many fashion models in favour of athletic and toned – or even highly muscular – physiques, widely known as ‘strong is the new skinny’. This is great news for the sports nutrition market as well as high protein brands and is likely to be contributing to the uptake in usage.”

The market shows no sign of slowing. On the contrary, increasing numbers of products on supermarket shelves are shouting about their protein positioning. But are such products putting the traditional sports nutrition market at risk?

Winther adds, “The sports nutrition market is facing intensifying competition from the growing number of mainstream foods embracing a high protein proposition. Usage of the two overlaps heavily and the more accessible prices and less processed image are likely to work in favour of the latter, with ‘lifestyle’ users particularly likely to be swayed.”

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