Protein—and especially whey protein—has long been popular with body-builders and elite athletes for its superb muscle-building and satiety benefits. Specialist health stores have embraced this opportunity and offered a wide range of high-protein products, such as shakes and whole meal replacements, often enriched with other nutrients like fibers, vitamins and minerals.
In recent years, however, whey protein has emerged from this niche to go mainstream. Now, increasing numbers of “ordinary” health-conscious consumers are demanding food and beverage products that help them stay fit, toned and looking and feeling good but which are convenient to integrate into their everyday lives.
Market analyst Euromonitor International reported that sales of protein products in North America grew by 66% between 2008 and 2013 to just less than $5 billion, representing a compound annual growth rate of 10.7% over the period. Protein is an amazing opportunity, and the key to tapping into it is to offer consumers “lifestyle” protein-based products that are delicious and easy to consume, since these shoppers are not willing to make the taste and convenience sacrifices accepted by niche protein consumers such as body-builders.
In addition, companies should not ignore the enormous potential for marketing protein products to women. There are just more than 100 million females aged 16-39 in the U.S. However, while many of them have already been won over by the nutritional benefits of protein, plenty of them still have misconceptions about the effect it will have on their bodies.
Some women mistakenly believe that eating and drinking high protein products could make them fat or develop excessive muscle mass. This means they avoid high protein products because they perceive them to be high in calories, or associate them with body-builders and fear they will acquire an unfeminine body shape.
It’s important manufacturers work with their ingredient suppliers to develop concepts that will shatter these myths by educating female consumers about the true benefits of whey protein. This means creating products that are far removed from the “macho” image of protein fostered by products aimed at male consumers, including body-builders. But it’s important to avoid “pinkwashing.” Just feminizing products is not enough to appeal to female consumers. Instead, protein products aimed at women should speak to the specific health and nutrition concerns of women, which include toning, bone health, joint health and skin health.
Taste is really important, because female consumers will be deterred if they do not like the flavor and texture of a product. A good choice of protein is also essential. Whey proteins, such as those supplied by Arla Foods Ingredients, have long been recognized as the “gold standard” of proteins. This is because they are easily digestible and contain high levels of the essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids compared with other protein sources.
With the right protein, and the right ingredients partner, it’s possible to develop product concepts that appeal to certain demographics. This is a sensible approach, because there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all product. Consumers have differing needs nutritionally and in terms of their lifestyles. An ingredients company with a portfolio of high quality whey proteins is able to work closely with customers to develop the right concepts for the right markets every time.
Here are three of Arla Foods Ingredients’ generic protein product concepts, for three specific applications, that could resonate with female consumers:
Protein Water – Sports Nutrition
“Strong is the new skinny” is the rallying cry of many women, as they embrace physical activity in their droves. This makes them the ideal target demographic for protein-rich sports drinks. Our ready-to-drink Protein Water is the perfect antithesis of the body-builder’s thick protein shake. Formulated with a high quality whey protein isolate, it offers a light, refreshing fruit flavor. Sugar and fat free, and with less than 50 kcals per serving, it contains 10 grams of fast-acting whey protein to help muscles recover faster, without adding extra unwanted calories to the diet.
Breakfast Beverage – Weight Management
Something more substantial is usually preferred at breakfast. Our coffee cappuccino concept is a water-based milky drink rich in high quality whey protein that will help women feel fuller for longer. This could be further enhanced by adding dairy calcium, which has been shown to have a beneficial effect on fat loss. Serving size is in the region of 250-300 ml to ensure consumers enjoy the full benefits of the protein and calcium content.
Protein Smoothie – Lifestyle Nutrition
Many female consumers already drink fruit juices and smoothies as part of their daily diet. Adding 10 grams of whey protein to the mix creates our Protein Smoothie, a delicious and nutritious drink with all the benefits of fruit and protein combined.
Clearly, if women still have misconceptions about the impact whey protein will have on their weight and body shape, we need to do more to address these. At Arla Foods Ingredients, we believe the most effective way to do this is to use tailored whey protein ingredients to create products that really resonate with women, so that they come to understand the tangible benefits offered by a diet rich in high quality whey protein.
Health-conscious female consumers are always on the lookout for products that will help them stay fit and toned. A nutritional ingredient that promises to help them achieve this in an easy and enjoyable way—such as whey protein—is a compelling offer.
For more information, visit www.arlafoodsingredients.com.