And the numbers say …

What’s the protein source most recognized by consumers? It’s animal proteins — meat and fish — according to the NPD Group, Rosemont, IL, in its recent report “Protein Perceptions and Needs.” Specifically, 50% of respondents selected animal proteins as the best protein source. Eggs were noted by 11%, dairy items by 10% and beans/lentils by 8%, with 22% citing “other.”

NPD segmented protein consumers into three groups: traditional protein purists, flexible protein users, and knowledgeable but indifferent. The traditionals were more likely to consider animal proteins as their main source.

Because protein is such an important dietary trend today, another study, this by HealthFocus, St. Petersburg, FL, asked consumers about their views on protein and carbohydrates. Researchers found 73% of the 1,009 respondents claimed to limit carbohydrates in some way. They also learned that although carbohydrate-cutting and protein-­adding are happening simultaneously, one does not cause the other.

“Protein has no downside to most consumers,” HealthFocus reported. “And the breadth of what [consumers] consider the upside was very comprehensive albeit not completely accurate.” The report, “An In-Depth Look at Consumer Views on Protein and Carbohydrates,” was released in September 2014.

So, how do formulators select the proteins they use? Global Food Forums, St. Charles, IL, recently conducted a seminar on protein trends and technologies. The group asked participants to describe the most important characteristics of protein ingredients under consideration. Seventy percent of the R&D/product developers identified a protein’s “nutritional aspects” as one of the Top 3 most important characteristics. “Functionality (physiochemical properties)” was cited by 68% and “price per pound” by 60% of those surveyed.