These protein-fortified drinking yogurts, shakes, and flavored milks can be used as a healthy protein snack or meal replacement for busy consumers who work from home. Due to their high protein content, they can also be used as a sports nutrition drink.
Niki Kennedy, senior marketing manager at Glanbia Nutritionals in Chicago, said that high protein RTDs for dairy products are also known for their vitamin and mineral content and variety of delicious flavors, reviewing all of the criteria for today’s consumers.
Taste challenges with high protein RTD beverages
Taste can make or destroy a product. And while creating a product that tastes convincing is difficult enough, product developers of nutritional products like RTD protein drinks face unique challenges, Kennedy said. High protein nutritional products often contain several ingredients that are known for their inherent off-flavors.
Protein RTD manufacturers often formulate with bold, indulgent flavors to help overcome these challenges. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and caramel are tried and tested options, while newer sweet brown flavors for protein RTDs include cinnamon bun and buttered pecan, Kennedy said.
Another popular approach is to use fruit cream flavors like banana cream, strawberry cream, and peaches and cream.
But even products that use rich, decadent flavors may still need a little help covering up on off-notes that may come from vitamins, minerals, high-intensity sweeteners, or plant-based proteins. Protein RTDs such as sports nutrition drinks, meal replacement drinks, protein juice smoothies, and fortified yogurt drinks are examples of products that can benefit from taste masking.
Kennedy cited Glanbia Nutritionals MaskWell Masking Solutions as an example of a product designed to mask proteins, herbal ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that are naturally strong flavors or offsets.
Food ingredients can be particularly difficult to flavor because of their bitterness, astringency, earthiness, or other undesirable flavors.
High protein yogurt
High protein yogurt is increasingly in demand as a better snack for satiety and sustained energy. More than three in four globally active consumers say they use protein-rich yogurt as a snack, and almost one in three has consumed it more in the past year
In the European market alone, the market launches of new yoghurts with additional or protein-rich information quadrupled between 2014 and 2020, from 3% to 13% .2
Kennedy said that high-protein, low-fat, no-sugar yogurt is proving to be the formula for success, with that combination showing the highest purchase intent among UK consumers with reduced / no / low-fat claims, while no extra sugar claims for new high-protein yogurts from 2015 through 2015 More than doubled in 2020
Kennedy said Glanbias UltraHi is a milk protein ingredient designed for high protein yogurt applications and is specifically made for yogurt RTDs.
The demand for hearty, high-protein snacks continues to grow
Among the global new launches of food and beverages, the high / added protein claims have steadily increased, increasing by 18% globally for a CARG between 2016 and 2020
Protein in snacks is proving to be particularly important due to the increased consumer interest in healthy snacks. In addition, high-protein snacks provide satiety and sustained energy – important benefits in a snack.
However, many high protein snacks on the market are sweet, indulgent snacks. Kennedy said that high-protein savory snacks represent an opportunity for innovation to meet growing consumer demand for healthy protein in the savory formats they love. Savory snacks were in high demand over the past year as consumers spent more time at home and increased their snacks during the lockdown.
Healthier hearty snacks – especially those with protein – can play an important role in the post-pandemic era as many consumers try to get their weight management goals back on track. Research by Mintel shows that in the UK, nearly two in five consumers think high protein chips / nuts / savory snacks are a good option as a meal replacement.6 Plus, one in two says it’s good to have healthy chips / nuts / savory snacks Eating snacks Opportunity to replenish nutrients such as protein. 7
Hearty protein snacks also help consumers keep their carbohydrate intake in check. A low-carb diet (like the keto diet) continues to influence consumer choice of snacks. For example, while salty snacks saw a net increase in penetration last year in the US, roughly one in ten salty snacks consumers reduced their consumption, with one in four reporting reducing carbohydrate intake
Some products already available in this area that may appeal to consumers’ interest in hearty snacks with protein are nuts, seeds, and trail mix. Kennedy said adding fortified inclusions like Glanbias Crunchie Milk Protein Bites can boost the protein in trail mix even further while adding a crispy texture.
Growth opportunities in personalized protein RTM
Personalized Protein Ready-to-Mix (RTM) powders are currently a niche market but represent a great growth opportunity due to the increasing demand for personalized foods and beverages, Kennedy said.
Protein powders are still very popular, accounting for just over half (51%) of global retail sales of sports nutrition products.10 The global protein powder market of 11.1 billion
In the US, almost half of the consumers of sports nutrition products buy protein powders.12 Of these, more than three-quarters do this to maintain a healthy body weight.13 For health and fitness-conscious consumers who already have protein powders in their diet, protein powders do exactly that Providing the benefits they need, with added targeted nutrients and functional ingredients, adds tremendous value, noted Kennedy.
In addition to different approaches to collecting consumer health data, companies are also pursuing different strategies for providing personalized nutrition. One strategy is personalization through combination. For example, Care / of recommends several individual products (based on rating) that together address the consumer’s needs. This can include maintaining creatine for high-intensity workouts, plant-based protein for muscle recovery, and chia flax for extra fiber.
The personalization of individual products is another strategy, said Kennedy. Brands like Buddy Nutrition and Gainful take this approach to create a custom formulated and blended powder for each consumer. For example, a Buddy Nutrition powder can be blended from the brand’s Carb Enzyme Boost, Turmeric Boost, and Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Boost in addition to a custom protein blend. The powder would also contain the flavor chosen by the consumer.
1. FMCG Gurus – Active Diet Survey – Q3 2019.
2. Mintel – A year of innovation in yogurt – August 2019.
3-4. Mintel Global New Product Database – August 2021.
5. Mintel, Global New Product Database, accessed August 2021.
6-7. Mintel, chips, savory snacks and nuts – UK January 2020.
8. Mintel, salty snacks – USA, April 2021.
9. Mintel, The Future of Salty Snacks: 2021, February 2021.
10-11. Euromonitor, Sports Nutrition in World, February 2020 (excluding meal replacements and nutritional beverages).
12-13. FMCG Gurus, The Evolution of Protein – USA – 2019, October 2019.