Consumer Sales Data on Plant and Animal Proteins

Posted on:December 3, 2019

HIGH-PROTEIN DIETS mean different things to different people. So stated Kasey Farrell, Data Product Manager, Product Intelligence Team SPINS, while setting the stage for her talk “The Age of Protein: Emerging Opportunity for Plant-Based Alternatives.”

Historically, vegan products have been favored for animal welfare and environmental concerns but are often associated with poor taste qualities. The term “plant-based” is more about good health and flexible, customized approaches to eating.

The meat substitute market is expected to grow 74% to $2.5 billion globally by 2023, according to Euromonitor.

Sales of plant-based meat alternatives are growing with plant-based burgers seeing the most accelerated growth. Sugar-free, low-carb, gluten-free and keto-friendly products using plant-based protein sources are trending.

Farrell noted data from a 2018 International Food Information Council Foundation report that shows over 70% of people view protein from plant sources as healthy, whereas less than 40% view animal protein as healthy. In the retail sector, animal-based proteins—with the exception of egg and collagen—declined. Meanwhile, plant protein sales are still increasing, with pea protein showing the greatest growth.

Farrell presented data showing that plant-based alternatives to burgers and other meats, protein supplements and milks all saw impressive growth in the past year. Milks have the highest dollar sales, but burgers have seen the greatest percent growth. “Euromonitor International data noted that the meat substitute market was valued $1.44 billion and, by 2023, is expected to grow 74% to $2.5 billion,” Farrell stated.

Taste is still the primary determinant for consumers, and restaurants and chefs are formulating new recipes and menu items to broaden plant-based options. Farrell provided examples including Burger King’s “Impossible Whopper,” Carl’s Jr’s “Beyond Famous Star burger” and Silver Diner’s “Just Egg Benedict.” Additionally, Dunkin Donuts has announced the introduction of plant-based breakfast meats.

Farrell noted that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), environmental sustainability may be another driving force behind plant-based eating, with livestock farming leading to soil erosion, deforestation and destruction of natural habitats. Furthermore, FAO reports that 1-2,000 liters of water are needed to produce 1kg of wheat, whereas 13-15,000 liters is required to produce 1kg of grain-fed beef. The livestock sector contributes about 9% CO2, 65% nitrous oxide and 37% methane.

Traditionally, vegans and vegetarians are known to avoid meat for animal welfare concerns. According to GlobalData, the number of people in the U.S. who followed a vegan diet grew 600% between 2014-2017.

Non-GMO (or not genetically modified) is another claim or certification consumers may be looking for in their products. Many consumers shun GMO ingredients or products, believing these have not been studied enough to understand safety and long-term effects. Farrell explained that the USDA will require bioengineered foods to be labeled by 2022, with the exception of ingredients with undetectable levels of the ingredient, such as high-fructose corn syrup. Consumer demand for Non-GMO Project Verified items grew exponentially since 2011, across all retail channels.

Brands and manufacturers across all categories are looking for new and innovative ways to increase their products’ protein content. Products featuring pea protein grew more than other plant-based protein sources in the natural segment in 2018.

Plant-based options are expanding into new product categories and traditionally meat-based areas, like jerky and meat snacks. Farrell concluded by stating that protein sources are being combined to provide complete nutritional profiles as well as texture and taste properties. New categories of products are getting an added boost of protein, including items that inherently contain protein, like nut butters. Indulgent treats are following suit and appealing to the protein-conscience consumer.

“The Age of Protein: Emerging Opportunity for Plant-Based Alternatives,” Kasey Farrell, Data Product Manager, Product Intelligence Team SPINS

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at

RDA Determination and Over or Under Consumption of Proteins

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COMMON MYTHS REGARDING dietary protein were a key focus of the presentation, titled “New News About Protein: How Much is Too Much…and Not Enough,” provided by Steve Hertzler, Ph.D., RD, Sr. Scientist, Clinical Research, Abbott Nutrition.

“Can protein give you energy?” questioned Hertzler. “Yes, theoretically! But this is not preferred and occurs only to a limited extent, as amino acids are not the ideal source to burn for energy.” This is because excretion products of protein oxidation, such ammonia and urea, can potentially be toxic to the body.

Hertzler noted that the current Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 0.8g protein/kg of body weight per day. “The RDA is the amount sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group,” he noted. RDAs are based on nitrogen balance studies; however, these studies are difficult to perform and interpret correctly.

Indicator Amino Acid Oxidation (IAAO) is a “newer method in which humans are fed different amounts of IAA (typically an isotopically labeled amino acid such as 13C-phenylalanine). The 13C comes out of the body as 13CO2 when the amino acid is oxidized and can be quantified in expired breath samples,” stated Hertzler. The IAAO method removes some of the limitations that have been associated with older nitrogen balance studies.

The theoretical basis underpinning the IAAO method is that, at low protein intakes, essential amino acid (EAA) intake is insufficient to support protein synthesis, and IAAO will be high. As protein/EAA intake increases toward requirements, protein synthesis improves, and IAAO falls.

“At breakpoint,” Hertzler explained, “IAAO reaches its lowest point, and further increases in protein intake do not alter it. This breakpoint is referred to as the estimated average requirement (EAR). A margin of safety is added (typically 2 standard deviations above the EAR), and that protein intake number becomes the proposed RDA.”

Data from ten IAAO human studies indicate an EAR higher than the present RDA. (See chart “IAAO Studies to Estimate Human Protein Requirement.”) “This is important,” stressed Hertzler, “because, for non-exercising adults of all ages, the protein RDA (1.15-1.30g/kg/d) is around 50% higher than the present RDA.” For athletes, the present RDA is two-three times lower than the proposed RDAs derived from more recent IAAO studies, which range from 1.7-2.6g/kg/d.

Expert groups are recommending increases in protein intake. For example, this would include, for healthy older people or those who are (or at risk of) malnutrition, at least 1.0-1.2g and 1.2-1.5g protein/kg BW/d, respectively. (Deutz NEP et al. Clin Nutr 2014. Hertzler stressed that nearly all new evidence points to benefits of protein intakes higher than current RDA, yet no specific changes are being implemented to current RDAs. Data from “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey” (NHANES) 2011-2014 showed that 31-50% of older populations consume below the protein RDA (which may already be too low), as expressed on an actual BW (not ideal BW) basis. (Krok-Schoen JL et al. J Nutr Health Aging 2019/

There appears to be a benefit for older people to consume higher protein intakes. Intakes of 1.5 vs. 0.8 g/kg/day protein resulted in muscle mass more than doubling in arms and legs in frail elderly subjects. Indices relating arm and leg muscle mass to BW, BMI and body fat all significantly improved, as did gait speed. (Oikawa SY et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2018/

Hertzler emphasized that it is very difficult to consume “too much protein.” High-protein diets within the U.S. Institute of Medicine’s Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) of 10-35% of energy (and up to two-three times the RDA) pose no direct safety concern. “However, the key proviso is that a person has healthy liver and kidney function to start.” (Antonio J et al. J Nutr Metab 2016/

High-protein diets are unlikely to have an adverse effect on bone health and may have positive effects. Indirect risks of high-protein diets have less to do with the protein and more to do with other dietary factors that may do harm, such as saturated fat or low fiber. “My main concern is with protein crowding out other healthy foods,” stated Hertzler. Many high-protein foods are low in carbohydrate and fiber, yet many healthy high-carbohydrate foods are low in protein.

He noted, “Plant-based proteins, as part of your overall protein mix, are a great way to get protein, as well as a lot of other beneficial nutrients.”

Hertzler concluded that current research suggests protein recommendations, such as the RDA, may be too low to promote optimal health and function, especially as people get older. Proper distribution of protein intake may be helpful as well.

“New News About Protein: How Much is Too Much…and Not Enough,” Steve Hertzler, Ph.D., RD, Senior Scientist, Clinical Research, Nutrition Science & Innovation, Global Scientific and Medical Affairs, Abbott Nutrition

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at

Market Size and Applications for Dairy Proteins

Posted on:December 2, 2019

THE DAIRY INGREDIENT SECTOR remains a dynamic and crucial source of proteins for foods and beverages. The global market for dairy proteins includes many mature ingredients. “However, it is the newer ingredients, such as native whey, micellar casein and peptides, that are creating added value in the sector,” said Tage Affertsholt, MSc, Owner, 3A Business Consulting, in his presentation titled “Global Market for Whey and Other Dairy Proteins.”

First, let’s look at the whey category. The more concentrated protein products, such as whey protein concentrate 80% (WPC80) and whey protein isolate (WPI), have been driving category growth and value, and this trend is expected to continue through 2022.

The global market value of whey ingredients was approximately 6 billion USD in 2017 and is expected to grow to 7.1 billion by 2022. While the EU is the dominant producer of whey powder and demineralized whey, production of whey protein concentrates in the ranges of 35-89% protein is equally distributed between North American and Europe.

The U.S. dominates production of WPC80 and WPI to fuel its protein-hungry sports nutrition market. Asia relies heavily on exports from North America and Oceania to meet their demand for these ingredients. Demand from the nutrition sector for higher protein ingredients is divided into four major usage categories: obesity; child and infant nutrition; healthy active lifestyles; and aging populations.

The sports nutrition category represents more than 15 billion USD annually and is growing by 10%. One of the biggest companies in sports nutrition is Glanbia, which has acquired many sports nutrition brands.

Milk proteins dominate the 12 billion USD clinical and adult nutrition category, which is also an opportunity area for whey protein hydrolysates.

The infant formula markets in Asia and the EU are major users of 90% demineralized whey powder, while whey powders with lower levels of demineralization are utilized in bakery and confectionery products. Lower protein WPCs are used in sports powders, infant formula and dairy. Key markets for whey hydrolysates include sports nutrition, infant formula and clinical nutrition.

The infant formula industry, valued at over 50 billion USD, continues to be a major market for higher value whey protein ingredients, including those enriched with alpha-lactalbumin or lactoferrin. The Chinese market is driving growth in this category.

Whey proteins are produced by a wide range of suppliers, some with limited portfolios and market scope. In contrast, larger companies have both a wide portfolio and a global scope.

A similar growth story is seen in the milk protein industry. The global market value of milk proteins was approximately 3.5 billion USD in 2018 and is forecast to reach almost 4 billion by 2022. Production of MPC with protein levels above 85% has increased in recent years, as has production of newer ingredients like micellar casein concentrates (MCC), micellar casein isolates (MCI) and native whey.

The EU and Oceania are the major suppliers of casein and caseinates, while North America is both a major producer and supplier of milk protein concentrates (MPC). Asia is a key user of milk proteins, and there is growing demand from developing countries.

Milk proteins are used primarily in infant, clinical and sports nutrition products, but they are also used in processed foods, including dairy and cheese. MCC, MCI and native whey are used almost exclusively in sports nutrition. MPC is seen in a wide range of new product launches, while MPI is used primarily in sports nutrition. Micellar casein in powdered sports nutrition products is touted as being “less processed.”

Clinical nutrition is a relatively small (12 billion USD) but growing market for milk proteins in sophisticated markets, such as the U.S., EU and China. Milk proteins are valued for their slower absorption rates.

Other examples of emerging dairy ingredients include casein phosphopeptides and osteopontin. Galactooligosaccharides (GOS), which are derived from lactose, also show growth potential.

A number of dairy ingredient companies are starting to produce organic whey and milk protein ingredients. The forecast is for continued steady and significant growth in the dairy protein industry.

“Global Market for Whey and Other Dairy Proteins,” Tage Affertsholt, MSc, Owner, 3A Business Consulting

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at

Where U.S. Consumer Protein Dollars are Spent

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MORE THAN HALF OF U.S. CONSUMERS say that they have protein at every meal. That equates to over 300 billion meals with protein per year in the U.S. and Canada. “Of these consumers, 31% say that the source of their protein does matter, and 20% are actively monitoring their protein intake on a daily basis,” said Meagan Nelson, MBA, Associate Director, Nielsen, in her presentation titled “Protein Proliferation: Understanding the Consumers’ Total Protein Landscape.”

The primary sources of proteins for U.S. consumers are meat (in 78% of households); dairy (58%); eggs (61%); fish/seafood (29%); and legumes/nuts/seeds (19%). Consumers are planning to consume more fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, according to Nelson. Interestingly, 14% of U.S. consumers plan to consume more meat, while 22% want to consume less meat. In the U.S., 5% of house-holds have someone on a high-protein diet.

Despite their interest in protein, an amazing number of consumers cannot readily identify protein levels in common foods. Only 22% of consumers correctly identified peanut butter as falling into the category of a low (< 10g per serving) source of protein. And only 12% of consumers correctly identified cottage cheese as a high (>20g per serving) source of protein. At the same time, 55% of consumers correctly stated that beef was a high-protein food.

Most consumers incorrectly believe that meat is the costliest protein. In actuality, nutrition bars (at 20 cents/gram on average) and jerky (25 cents/gram on average) are among the most expensive sources of protein. The least expensive protein sources are chicken, pork and turkey, at 2 cents per gram.

When consumers have money, they are willing to pay a premium for groceries and, more specifically, for dairy and meat/seafood in the protein space. The deli department is driving the growth of the meat category, as today’s consumers find convenience in prepared main courses, salads and appetizers, and lunchmeat and sandwiches. Almost all seafood products are showing growth in both dollars and units. Sushi, which is a unique category, continues to show rapid growth, with $1.3 billion in total annual sales.

Elsewhere in the protein space, in the dairy aisle, milk and yogurt are struggling. However, pockets of growth include specialty cheeses. Overall egg dollar growth has been driven by inflationary pressure, but there is huge growth in cage-free and free-range eggs.

Despite the plant-based movement, the category of legumes/ nuts/seeds is not showing significant growth. Some exceptions include pistachios, black beans, sesame seeds, sunflower butter and low-salt products.

Excluding the five primary categories of protein foods, sales of other foods that qualify as a good or excellent source of protein by FDA guidelines account for another $21.6 billion in sales. Grocery and frozen accounted for the most sales in this category. Interesting “up-and-coming” products include grocery broth (bone broth), ice cream and pancake mix.

Roughly 40% of U.S. and Canadian households are trying to increase their consumption of plant foods, and much of this growth is driven by young consumers. Among plant-based foods that are a good or excellent source of protein, there has been significant growth in the frozen prepared foods category.

Despite all the buzz about meat alternatives, meat industry total sales were $95 billion dollars, while meat alternatives sales were less than $1 billion. While 21.6% of households purchase meat alternatives, only 27% of meat alternative buyers are purchasing five or more times a year. Sales of plant-based dairy alternatives increased slightly, to total sales of $4 billion.

Consumers are also willing to consider altering their diet for factors outside of health. When consumers were asked what they were willing to do to alter livestock’s impact on climate change, only 16% of consumers said they had any awareness of this issue, 61% were willing to reduce meat consumption, and 43% were willing to replace meat-based protein with plant alternatives. Just 12% of consumers would try cultured meat grown in a lab, and 8% would try insect protein.

Most consumers feel it is important to have a healthy balance of plant and animal protein. Actually, 98% of meat alternative buyers also purchase meat. Only 5% of consumers are vegetarian or vegan.

Protein foods account for nearly $190 billion in sales across the U.S. grocery business, and this is a very competitive space. Growth is happening in very divergent ways. Ultimately, innovation and unique applications of protein will continue to drive growth.

“Protein Proliferation: Understanding the Consumers Total Protein Landscape,” Meagan Nelson, MBA, Associate Director, Nielsen
[Editor’s Note: All data was derived from Nielsen surveys from the 2017-2019 time period in the U.S. and/or Canada. Certain data was obtained from Nielsen Product Insider, powered by Label Insight]

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at

Easy to Long-Range Strategies for Sustainable Protein Foods

Posted on:November 22, 2019

THE CHALLENGES OF AND POTENTIAL steps toward achieving and maintaining a sustainable, global protein supply were the focus of a presentation from Clyde Don, Ph.D., a consultant in the food science and green chemical industries, based in the Netherlands, and Managing Director of CDC FoodPhysica Lab.

The diet of the Dutch in the 1880s, as illustrated by van Gogh’s masterpiece The Potato Eaters, was not ideal, and it was undoubtedly protein deficient. A little over a century later, the food system has dramatically improved; however, improvements to the current global protein supply are still needed.

In developed countries, the protein quality of diets is much improved over those portrayed in van Gogh’s masterpiece, The Potato Eaters, from the 1880s. However, improve-ments to the current global protein supply are still needed.

While global resources exist to feed the world, not all people eat a high-quality diet in terms of protein. Plant-based proteins can help meet global protein needs, and 5% annual growth in the plant protein market has been forecast in the developed countries (such as in North America, Western Europe).

Animal- and plant-based proteins differ in their quality for human nutrition. Protein quality is related to both its digestibility and its amino acid composition. Animal proteins usually have an excellent amino acid composition with respect to human nutrition. In contrast, single protein sources from plants may be low in essential amino acids, such as lysine.

Proteins from various plant sources can be blended to achieve a much better amino acid composition and nutritional value, however. For example, a mixture of rice, mung bean, sesame and carrots approximates casein, a relatively high-quality animal protein, in terms of nutritional quality, said Don.

In addition to nutritional quality, the functionality of animal proteins is challenging to replicate with plant proteins. Early attempts to replace meat with plant proteins led to rubbery, dry products with little taste. Clever blending of proteins can provide both better quality protein and better functionality.

Some of the same factors affect both protein quality and protein functionality. Solubility and the ability to form stiff gels are important to protein functionality in foods, and both are influenced by the amino acid composition of the protein. Protein blends can be used to formulate improved meat-like textures, although achieving proper juiciness remains challenging.

The need to obtain sufficient protein will remain a global concern, even while technical challenges are overcome. Don out-lined five steps to transition towards a more sustainable global protein supply.

Step 1. Sausage of the future: Incorporating alternative proteins represents an easy and currently available way to move away from the overuse of meat. Sausage is one of the first food products that humans developed. As a mixture of ingredients, sausage can be redesigned by blending different proteins beyond meat (e.g., pulses, cereals/grains, fruits/vegetables, nuts and insects).

Step 2. Animal protein waste recovery: Animal proteins that are currently treated as waste products can be reformulated and utilized as foods. For example, the low solubility of egg yolk powder waste can be greatly improved by enzymatic digestion, allowing it to be used in bakery products or protein beverages. Collagen proteins are another animal protein which may enter the waste stream; however, collagen can be added to sausages, thus increasing product yield, reducing cooking loss and improving texture.

Step 3. New sources of protein: New, sustainable sources of protein are being explored. Insect protein shows promise, but it is not currently eliciting much consumer interest (and may cause reactions in those with shrimp and shellfish allergies). Seaweed is another newer protein source which is produced without using land; however, its water solubility and protein content, both of which are desirable for use in food products, are highly variable. Duckweed, despite poor solubility, has shown promise as an ingredient in certain foods, such as bakery products, suggested Don.

Step 4. Novel proteins from the lab: Generating egg proteins without a chicken (or beef without a cow) by using a bioreactor is in the development stage but has not yet reached the market- place. At least in the EU and the Netherlands, some regulatory resistance to moving cultured proteins into the food chain exists. [Editor’s Note: For the situation in the U.S., see Jessica O’Connell’s presentation “From Cellular Agriculture to Plant-based Milks: Hot Issues in the Protein Arena,” in this issue on page 10 and online at]

Step 5. Protein on demand: Modern technology, such as CRISPR- Cas, could be used to change the amino acid composition of proteins “on demand” to provide desired protein functionality and quality. Fermentation technology (and the scaling up of said technology) is already available that could make this goal a reality.

“Creative Reformulation of Protein Foods: Five Steps toward a Sustainable Protein Supply,” Clyde Don, Ph.D., Managing Director, CDC FoodPhysica Lab

This presentation was given at the 2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Protein Trends & Technologies Seminars at

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