Protein trend may cross the pond

by Keith Nunes
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LONDON — A number of consumers in the United Kingdom are starting to seek food and beverage products high in protein, according to a survey conducted by the market research firm Canadean. Eighty-one per cent of U.K. consumers said they are aware of the importance of getting enough protein in their diet. Yet, despite the high awareness, only 44% said they knew how much protein they should consume on a daily basis.

When the consumers who said they are seeking products high in protein were asked why they were doing so, the most common reason was “to improve general well-being” (44%) followed by “to increase strength” (37%). The general answers show that there is still some unawareness about the specific benefits of the ingredient, such as increased bone density, lower risk of osteoporosis and muscle retention, according to the market research firm.

“While protein currently has a ‘health halo’ surrounding it, more needs to be done to encourage consumers to purchase products high in the ingredient,” said Michael Hughes, lead analyst for Canadean. “Manufacturers need to target specific demographic groups — and in particular senior citizens — by educating consumers about the specific health benefits associated with protein and how it can improve their lifestyle.”

The survey showed consumers between the ages of 25-34 were the most likely to try and include more protein (28%) in their diet. Interestingly, consumers aged 55 and older were the least likely (10%). Canadean said the survey data shows food and beverage companies need to educate senior citizens better about the specific health benefits of protein.

Manufacturers of products high in protein also may have to overcome issues related to taste perception and consumer skepticism. The Canadean data showed that 52% of consumers are skeptical of such indulgent products as ice cream with high-protein claims on the packaging.
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