Protein Fever Continues to Spread

15 Oct 2013

Protein appears to be well established in the US and is very much poised for global growth as manufacturers educate consumers on the many nutritional benefits this macronutrient has to offer. Protein is increasingly sought out by American consumers as a means of building muscle, balancing the diet, aiding with satiety, and even weight loss. […]

Protein Fever Continues to Spread

Protein appears to be well established in the US and is very much poised for global growth as manufacturers educate consumers on the many nutritional benefits this macronutrient has to offer.

Protein is increasingly sought out by American consumers as a means of building muscle, balancing the diet, aiding with satiety, and even weight loss. In the United States, the launch activity of foods making high protein claims was over four times higher than anywhere else in the world in 2012.

However, there are signs that the interest in protein is starting to spread outside of the US to Europe, with almost three times as many high protein products launched in Europe in 2012 compared with 2008. High protein products launched in Europe can help substantiate high protein claims by utilising the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved health claims for protein.

The authorised claims for protein include “Protein contributes to a growth in muscle mass”, “Protein contributes to the maintenance of muscle mass”, and “Protein contributes to the maintenance of normal bones”. Authorisation of these claims provides an ideal opportunity for European manufacturers and should help promote the spread of, and enthusiasm for, protein in Europe.

Protein’s rising profile is connected to its wide offering of nutritional and wellness benefits. However, protein’s satiating powers appear to be proving particularly popular amongst consumers. Satiety is the feeling of fullness that is experienced after eating certain foods and protein has been shown to have a positive effect on subjective satiety.

Whey protein in particular has demonstrated a functional role in weight management and satiety, as it is believed to be involved in the mechanism that signals satiety and physiological fullness. Protein’s satiating properties are also a good match with low carbohydrate (carb) products and offer a way to increase the satisfaction of low carb products, which appear to be making a comeback, albeit slow, across Europe.

Low carb products often fall short on producing the same filling effects as their higher carb alternatives due to the removal of some of the bulky carbohydrate. Utilising protein’s satiating powers in low carb products will help increase the satisfaction of low carb options, as protein provides a sense of fullness, providing greater satisfaction to low carb foods which otherwise might be perceived as ‘empty’.

Protein is recognised as an important nutrient at all life stages, particularly during intense growth periods. However, as the needs of the rapidly ageing population are given more attention, the importance of adequate protein intake amongst seniors is increasingly being recognised. Given that we lose muscle mass as we age, protein can help minimise muscle wastage by helping maintain muscle mass and bulk. In addition, protein’s role in cognitive health has also been linked to reducing the functional decline of frail senior populations.

As the list of purported health benefits linked to protein grows, its value as a key building block in our diets continues to be recognised. This looks set to continue to drive the demand for high protein products as consumer increasingly seek the benefits offered by protein.

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