Fiber and protein ingredients are improving and growing significantly, as more consumers look for convenient and healthy nutritional product choices.
Ask just about any health expert and they’ll most likely agree that protein and fiber are essential parts of a healthy diet. And with busy, on-the-go lifestyles, consumers are leaning in to convenient and healthy products, such as bars and shakes that can help them the get the nutrition they need each day. And it is this growth in demand that is causing the protein and fiber categories to skyrocket.
“Protein has always been an important factor in a healthy diet, and increasingly, consumers are looking for quicker ways to incorporate more protein into their diets for sustained energy, satiety, and to help them achieve the goals they set for their health,” said James Komorowski, chief science office for Nutrition 21 in New York. “This increasing consumer demand has resulted in a shift in the protein market over the last decade, away from a concentrated focus on sports nutrition consumers to a wider focus on consumers interested in improving consumption to help improve their general health. This general health-focused audience is seeking new ways to eat healthier, maintain and gain lean body mass, and maintain and increase their energy.”
“In terms of fiber, there is a growing body of evidence that people who eat more fiber tend to have a healthier body weight,” added Anne Louise Friis, sales development manager North & South America for Denmark-based Arla Foods. “A recent study found that people who added more of it to their diets—without changing anything else—lost almost as much weight as people who followed the heart-healthy, low-fat eating plan recommended by the American Heart Association.”
According to Alison Raban, CFS, ingredient application scientist for BI Nutraceuticals in California, from the perspective of an ingredient supplier, the market for both proteins and fibers is growing. “This is based both on ingredient sales as well as R&D interest in both these categories,” she said. “As plant-based proteins keep gaining traction with consumers, formulators are looking at more unique sources of plant protein to deliver on the consumer desire for high-quality products featuring plant-derived proteins.”
While whey has been one of the category leaders for some time, market research confirms plant-based protein options are growing rapidly. According to statistics from Mintel, in 2012, U.S. sales of plant-based proteins were $553 million. Innova Market Insights reported that in 2014, the introduction of new products with plant-based proteins grew 14.7 percent, while animal protein grew 7.5 percent, while Markets and Markets estimated that the global plant-based protein market is projected to reach $5 billion by 2020. Finally, research from Lux Research found that plant-based protein could represent one-third of overall protein by 2054.
Komorowski also confirmed seeing the shift, pointing out that the two core, long-standing ingredients in the protein market are whey and casein protein. “However, the hottest trend in protein over the past year has been the rise of plant-based protein products, and all indications say that this trend will continue,” he explained. “Consumer interest in plant-based protein has opened the door to the exploration of new plant-based protein sources, such as pea, brown rice, or hemp protein, to power up new protein products. Brands and formulators largely have been focused on designing the optimal blend of plant-based protein sources to create the most complete protein product they can, with the end goal of increasing muscle protein synthesis (MPS), the key to muscle growth.
“There is a plant-based food revolution underway in supermarkets and specialty stores around the world,” agreed Steve Fink, director of marketing for New Jersey-based PLT Health Solutions. “A recent study conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by the Plant Based Foods Association found that sales of plant-based foods grew at 20 percent in the 52 weeks ending 16 June 2018, reaching a total of $3.3 billion. Contrasting this growth with all food products—which grew at only 2 percent in this time frame—shows the explosive growth and the need for improved ingredients.”
In 2018, PLT Health Solutions introduced Artesa Chickpea Protein and Artesa Chickpea Flour to address both the protein and fiber space. Artesa Chickpea Protein was launched at IFT 2018, and is a source of both protein and fiber.
According to Fink, “Artesa Chickpea Flour is targeted to the gluten-free product space—solving the problems other pulse/legume flours face in creating consumer pleasing products—including taste, sensory characteristics and formulating functionality. From a nutritional standpoint, Artesa Chickpea Flour contains a minimum of 12 percent protein. It is a source of resistant starch—and compared to wheat and other pulse flours, has a lower glycemic index.”
Still, whey continues to see a secure place in the market. According to a 2016 report from BCC Research, the global market for whey protein is projected to reach $13.5 billion in 2020 from $9.2 billion in 2015, reflecting a five-year annual compound growth (CAGR) of 6.5 percent.
“Whey proteins are highly nutritious and complete proteins, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids (EAA) needed by the human body,” noted Friis. “Compared to other protein sources, whey proteins provide a higher proportion of EAAs and, in particular, the BCAAs, which are known to effectively stimulate muscle synthesis. In addition, whey proteins are easily digested and absorbed by the human body. During weight loss, whey protein helps reduce body weight, waist circumference and fat mass while preserving lean body mass.”
Nutrition 21’s ingredient, Velositol, is an amylopectin/chromium complex, which nutritional ingredient that enhances the power of protein and amino acids, making it the ideal muscle growth activator.
“By adding an ingredient like Velositol to their protein products, formulators can help consumers achieve their muscle-building goals and differentiate their protein products from the competition,” Komorowski said. “When added to protein, Velositol safely activates insulin release and increases the insulin sensitivity of muscle cells. This helps to enhance the body’s amino acid uptake into muscle, stimulating and boosting MPS. Velositol has received GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status at the recommended serving of 2 grams per day in protein drinks (including ready-to-drink and powder), meal replacement bars, energy and protein bars, with the consideration that these products can be taken up to three times a day.”
New Finds in Fiber
According to Raban, while protein’s popularity continues to grow, trend data shows fiber is gaining focus from consumers. “When consumers are asked about what they think they need to get more of in their diets, fiber is often the first or second on the list,” she said. “Most clinical trials and studies in the last few decades that have focused on protein and fiber show many benefits from heart health to digestion to weight management and those association will continue to lead consumers to products containing protein, fiber or both.”
BI offers Psybeloid Psyllium Fiber, a clean label natural source of fiber. In addition, the company has expanded its vast ingredient portfolio over the years to include other plant-based fibers, such as carrot, apple, and most recently, sweet potato, as well as innovative plant-based proteins like faba, lentil and pumpkin seed.
“On the fiber side, psyllium was a popular whole-food source of fiber for years and recently, inulin has gained a lot of consumer awareness but still the market is much more varied,” Raban explained. “Similar to the plant-based trend in protein, a close-to-nature approach to fiber has been seen with many finished products featuring whole foods, such as chia seeds or fruit and vegetable powders to add fiber. BI has seen that trend in the requests we receive from our customers, the supplement manufacturers, especially with an increase in interest in custom multicomponent blends.”
With protein and fiber, there are often a number of challenges to overcome when developing products that are appealing to consumers. While formulating products that contain fiber and/or protein, finished product manufacturers want to make sure that the product is not only convenient, but that they also get the taste, flavor and mouthfeel right so that the product is appealing to consumers. According to Friis, taste is critical for consumer acceptability and repeat usage.
Arla Foods Ingredients recently developed a 100 ml Pre-Meal Shot concept that is high in fiber and contains 15 g of Lacprodan whey protein. It is designed for drinking before a meal to help regulate blood glucose levels.
“The challenge is to find products that fit easily into people’s lifestyles in terms of convenience and nutrition,” Friis said. “Our application scientists have taken on this challenge to develop a natural, very low volume and yet highly nutritious 100 ml Pre-Meal Shot with 15 g of high-quality whey proteins and fibers. Such a high concentration of whey proteins in a beverage normally gels or results in a thick liquid. But our application experts have developed Lacprodan DI-6820, a compound that beverage manufacturers can use to produce ultra-convenient, tasty UHT beverages containing high quantities of premium-quality whey proteins.
In addition, today’s savvy consumers may not take things at face value. Because of this, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers must provide high-quality products that deliver. “Today’s consumers are even more cautious of the products they purchase and manufacturers have a responsibility to deliver on the promise of safe supplements,” said Raban. “…Fibers and proteins, just like any ingredient need to be sourced from credible suppliers that can ensure high-quality raw materials are used. Especially when manufacturers are looking to source ingredients that are new to the market place or just themselves, they need to take the time to qualify the supplier to ensure high-quality and safe ingredients. One of the best ways to ensure high-quality products is to work with high-quality ingredient suppliers that have the industry expertise to qualify new and unique ingredients.” NIE
For More Information:
Arla Foods Ingredients, www.arlafoodsingredients.com
BI Nutraceuticals, www.botanicals.com
Nutrition 21, www.nutrition21.com
PLT Health Solutions, www.plthealth.com