Tanvi Savara and Melanie Felgate, analysts at Datamonitor Consumer, predict high fiber claims will increase as consumers learn more about negative effects a protein overload could have on digestive health but say premium proteins like cricket flour could still have legs.
Protein: The rise…
High-protein foods and drinks have been growing across the sector for the last few years. Cereal makers, for example, were adding protein to emphasize energy and satiety benefits, said food analyst Savara.
“The trend is evolving from a category niche to mainstream, with the launch of products such as Cheerios Protein and Nature Valley Protein Granola last year,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com. “High-protein is also starting to permeate through bakery with product launches like Dr Zak’s High Protein Bread this year.”
Health and nutrition analyst Felgate agreed protein fortification was a key innovation focus across the food sector.
“Interestingly, the savory snacks category was second only to yogurt in terms of the proportion of new product launches making 'high protein' claims in 2014; and cereal bars came close behind in third,” she said. “This highlights the importance the category is placing on protein.”
Protein: The fall?
But she said Datamonitor Consumer was exploring when the ‘high protein’ trend will lose its muscle – and what will come next – in its upcoming publication entitled ‘The inevitable high-protein backlash’.
“One of the findings is that in the immediate short-term future, 'high fiber' claims will start to take increasing prominence as consumers become more aware of the negative effects on digestive health from over-consumption of protein,” said Felgate.
“In the next couple of years, we predict there will be much more emphasis on products (including snacks and cereal products) which are not only 'high protein' but are also high in fiber, either naturally or through fortification.
“The cereals and savory snacks categories are well placed to capitalize on this trend as wholegrains, which are inherently high in fiber, are common. Manufacturers can therefore flag up 'high fiber' benefits alongside protein.
“This emerging trend places the bakery and snacks category in a much better position than yogurt, for example, which, while high in protein, is not inherently high in fiber,” she said.
But there Felgate said there was room for high-protein and high-fiber to co-exist.
“Fiber is definitely something manufacturers have an opportunity to capitalize on further. Combining the benefits of fiber with protein fortification will help overcome current and future concerns over the impact the high protein diet is having on digestive health.”
Putting bread under the lens
Jos Vast, baking consultant and founder of the Bakery Academy, said the same trends were being seen specifically in the bakery sector. “The largest opportunity for a lot of bread-based products is the protein and fiber in the product,” he said. Bakers, he explained, could play with barley, buckwheat and certain soy flours that were high in fiber and protein, for example.
According to Vast, oat and barley were exciting prospects as producers could win a fiber or beta-glucan health claim if they met requisite levels.
Marlena Hindlay, associate marketing manager at DSM, added that Canadian bread companies were among those adding oat beta-glucan.
“We see more and more new SKUs of bread products coming out with nutritious call-outs: protein, fiber, ancient grains, sprouted,” she said.
“Fiber is an especially popular ingredient in the baked goods area, and some Canadian bread companies have added oat beta-glucan (oat fiber) to their products for a heart-healthy claim.”
Felgate said there were opportunities for the bakery and snacks sector to capitalize on novel protein sources, like insects - something some companies had already done. Exo and Chapul in the US were examples, she explained.
“It will be hard for consumers to accept insects in their whole form...But insects offer a good quality and sustainable source of protein, and in forms such as flour they are likely to be able to generate a wider acceptance among consumers," she said.