The report found the market earned revenues of $14.47 million in 2014 and predicted this to reach $20.21 million in 2018. Specialty proteins are produced from animal sources, plant sources and algae. Amino acids are produced through fermentation, chemical synthesis, enzymatic production and protein hydrolysis.
Since consumer concerns over health and safety are the primary growth drivers in this market, regulatory approvals, and scientific evidence regarding functional and nutritional benefits are crucial for continued growth. With animal products attracting considerable skepticism due the use of genetically modified (GM) products, plants and dairy are considered more desirable and sustainable sources for proteins.
"Protein manufacturers that can develop specific concentrates and isolates of sauces, dairy products, and a wide range of processed foods will have an edge in the market," said Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials & Food Industry Analyst Dr. Nandhini Rajagopal.
Manufacturers are also leaning towards natural amino acids, as there is a marked preference for them over synthetic ones in the Western European market. However, the former are expensive to produce. To deal with the price pressure, some food companies choose to formulate their produce with lesser percent of natural amino acids and high percent of synthetic amino acids. However, they still claim their product as completely natural; this leads to confusion among consumers while selecting the amino acid product that best fit their needs.
As such, detailed labeling about the sourcing of each ingredient formulated in a dietary supplement or fortified foods will aid greater penetration of protein fortified functional foods and facilitate decision making. Clinical trials proving the efficacy of the ingredients are also vital for garnering substantial market shares.
As plant proteins have more volumes of scientific evidence, they are likely to find higher uptake among savvy consumers. In addition, plant proteins are less susceptible to contamination by pathogenic microorganisms and some plant proteins, such as soy proteins, contain fibres and important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
"In the coming years, algal proteins are expected to take the lead in the market," noted Dr. Rajagopal. "Apart from having all the attributes consumers desire, they overcome challenges inherent in other protein sources by being non-GMO, organoleptic, sustainable, and non-allergenic."