Is flexitarianism leading the protein trend?
(Posted on 08/04/16)
There has been a lot of focus around the use of protein of late, and for good reason. Protein is a main food group and requires integration into our every day diet. As most consumers are aware, protein supports our health effectively because our body is in fact made up proteins. It is vital to build and repair tissues as well as enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Not to mention, the food group also provides the body with approximately 10% - 15% of its dietary energy. But did you know that a high protein diet could also encourage weight loss and improve quality of sleep according to a recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition? Take a look at these 10 Protein-Packed Snacks That'll Help You Shed Pounds.
For the average adult aged 19-50, the RDA for men is 56g/day and 45g/day for women according the British Nutrition Foundation with any excess used as a good way to provide energy, as each gram of protein provides 17kJ (4 kcal). The Public Health England updated their Eatwell Guide in March and provided the following for advice in terms of protein intake: “Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)”.
The global protein market is anticipated to reach $24.5 billion in 2015 with Europe projected to be the fastest growing market in the coming years. Consumers are clearly realising the importance of protein in their diet and are increasing their consumption of the food group, but which types of protein specifically?
Traditionally, the main source of protein that comes to mind is meat, fish and poultry, but that’s changing. With the amount of flexitarians (flexible vegetarians) rising rapidly, meat-alternative proteins are attracting more of the protein limelight. Heightened health concerns over the consumption of meat paired with a general increased level of environmental awareness is likely to have caused the majority of the global meat substitutes markets growth. The market is expected to reach €3.57 million in 2016 according to Visiongain, who states “the meat-alternatives industry will exhibit significant growth in the next 10 years”;12% annually to be precise according to Euromonitor.
Flexitarian consumers are not strict vegetarians, but consumers who actively limit the amount of meat they consume, replacing their intake with alternative protein sources. Some of the possible benefits of meat-alternatives are lower level of blood cholesterol, better digestion and improved heart health. According to research, 30% of consumers across the globe have now adopted a flexible attitude towards meat eating.
Due to its rapidly growing nature, the meat-alternative market is undergoing some drastic changes; a market once dominated by soy and wheat is now welcoming all kinds of wild and wonderful plant proteins to entice the palette of the ever evolving flexitarian consumer. According to Global Industry Analysts (GIA) the global market for plant protein ingredients will continue to grow at a CAGR of 8.8% up to the year 2020.
Plant proteins are especially attractive to consumers due to their ‘natural’, ‘organic’ and ‘free-from’ connotations which link well with the lifestyles of many modern consumers. A considerable amount of innovation is being undertaken in the category to overcome any past concerns over plant proteins being tasteless or genetically modified. Some popular trending plant proteins are pea protein due to its non-GMO status, microalgae and lemnoideae, the world’s smallest flowering plant.
One example of success in the category is Fry’s family foods who are excelling in the market with their ‘Nature’s Plant Proteins’ range full of B12, omegas, fibre and iron from 100% natural sources. Product examples are soy and quinoa family country roast, rice protein and chia nuggets and quinoa and fresh cilantro falafel burgers.
According to Innova Market Insights, sporty celebs and athletes are also helping to drive the popularity of alternative proteins. Protein is particularly necessary in sports nutrition, especially in endurance sports which require considerable amounts of protein, far more that the average recommended daily allowance. Protein is needed to maintain, repair and grow lean muscle mass as well as support the immune system function. If low amounts of protein are consumed, athletes will experience longer recovery times, muscle weakness and suppressed immune system function.
Plant-based proteins are gaining significant traction amongst sporting types, since their easily digestible nature requires less energy and their alkaline forming reduces inflammation whilst delivering essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibre and phytonutrients along with protein.
One thing is clear, we have not seen the end of the protein trend and we can’t wait to see what fresh and exciting protein sources come to market next!