Protein Industry - Statistics & Facts

The protein market continues to be a strong growth opportunity for the food industry. Projections suggest that the worldwide market for sports nutrition is set to grow to 45.27 billion U.S. dollars, increasing massively from the 2016 figure of 28.37 billion U.S. dollars. However, gym junkies are not the only ones fueling this growth. Protein has a variety of applications including supplementing the diets of vegetarians. This is a growing market if the larger share of young people identifying themselves as vegetarians is anything to go by.

The sources of protein are equally diverse as the varieties of people demanding protein products. Of course, different protein products provide different benefits and thus the growth of each protein source provides some indication of the primary market drivers. Whey protein, for example, is a key source of protein for body-building and gym-exercise targeted protein products. This market is responsible for a large part of the projected protein market growth with the whey protein market set to grow to 12.4 billion U.S. dollars in value by 2021.

On the vegetarian side, wheat and soy proteins are the primary meat replacement source. Wheat and soy proteins accounted for 27.2 and 26.6 percent respectively, of new meat replacement products introduced in 2015. Egg proteins were in third, perhaps due to the demand for meat replacement products from vegans. The preference for wheat and soy allows the industry to kill two birds with one stone without involving any birds at all.

The United States is a large part of the worldwide proteins market, breaching the 3 billion dollar figure in 2016. The characteristics of this market seem to reflect the high paced, on-the-go lifestyle many Americans favor. Firstly, multi outlets dominate the distribution of protein and meal replacement supplements, indicating a preference for convenience. Secondly, sports drinks and sports protein powder dominate the product category analysis. This may be a reflection of the strong presence of sports users in the market, as well as reflecting the on-the-go takeaway culture in American consumerism. Analysts expect this trend to continue and result in large gains in the sports protein powders market in the United States.

The dominance of the exercise consumers over vegetarians in the industry is clearly outlined by the sources of proteins American consumers are trying to consume. 76 percent of respondents were trying to consume poultry proteins, ruling out a sizeable share of consumers as vegetarian. Although fitness orientated consumers are somewhat motivated to consume fitness products to stay healthy, many are doing it for strength, appearance or weight reasons. After protein drinks and shakes, fitness/energy bars are the most frequently consumed fitness nutrition products. Though no matter their intake method of choice, many consumers remain skeptical on the positive benefits and value provided by fitness nutrition products.

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