CHICAGO – Consumers are open to purchasing protein-enriched foods, most notably nutrition bars, cereal and bread, according to The NPD Group.

In its “Protein perception and needs” report, the market research firm said one in five consumers is willing to pay more for a protein-enriched item. As part of a survey of consumers, The NPD Group defined “protein enriched” as foods that naturally have no protein or a low amount of protein and are then enriched. The survey included a list of such products as cereal, nutrition bars, non-dairy beverages, frozen foods, soup, etc., for respondents to consider. The list did not include such items as yogurt and meat products because they are natural sources of protein.

Dairy items rank the highest in terms of protein sources consumed on a daily basis, with 61% of “protein eatings” being dairy, according to The NPD Group. Protein-enriched items represent 10% of daily protein eatings.

“The challenge for the marketers of protein-fortified foods is to get noticed among the surrounding protein sources that are large categories and household staples,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage analyst for The NPD Group. “Look to make inroads via snack foods that are consumed as a snack or as part of a meal as a way to infiltrate consumers’ diets.”

Other foods consumers would like to see enriched with protein include bagels and frozen foods.

Seventy-eight per cent of survey respondents also said protein contributes to a healthy diet. The finding led The NPD Group to speculate that protein is currently top of mind among consumers.