Appeal of protein-rich beverages on the rise

Posted by James Ferre on 23rd March 2009

Once a niche market for serious exercisers, the appeal of ready to drink protein-enriched beverages has now expanded to water, juice and milk based variants plus an increasing number of smoothies, according to new research from drinks consultancy Zenith International.”Ready to drink protein beverages have benefited from a number of factors including technological advances and changes in lifestyle as well as improvements in the taste and texture of products,” Esther Renfrew, Dairy Market Intelligence Manager at Zenith, explained.

Zenith’s 2009 report on Global RTD Protein Beverages examines why protein is important to human health and how supplementary protein can be beneficial. The advantages of supplementary protein have been accepted for some time in the bodybuilding community, but recent studies have indicated that a protein rich diet can work for a number of different groups. For instance, protein has been found to affect satiety, enabling drink companies to target weight management.

The report finds that the main challenges faced by companies include public scepticism of the science and claims, alongside strong competition in an ever more congested functional drinks market. To succeed, businesses must not only create a tasty product, they must also ensure it is backed up by scientific evidence and demonstrably fulfils any claims made.

Zenith’s 2009 Global RTD Protein Beverages report also found that:

* The main types of protein-enriched drinks are exercise drinks, weight management drinks, clinical drinks, energy drinks and juice drinks.
* Whey is the most popular form of supplementary protein. Other sources include casein, milk, soy, egg whites and legumes.
* Key target customer groups for RTD protein beverages are the elderly, young children and hospital patients, along with the existing sports nutrition consumers.

The transformation from niche to mass market has certainly begun, but there is still unsatisfied potential. The entry of a major player with global distribution and sizeable marketing budgets would help to educate consumers more about the benefits of protein and take the segment to the next level, according to Zenith.