by Matt Weik
There’s no mistaking the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry these days. Seemingly everyone (and their brother) is trying to break into the industry, looking for a piece of the action. Many of those newcomers fail miserably while others show amazing growth year after year. Innovation has been the great separator in this category for years. The first manufacturer to come out with something that no one else currently has, generally maintains the greatest share of the category, even when competitors come out with a copy-cat product. The convenience factor has always been a driving force in the industry. Need protein? Here’s a shake. Not getting all your micronutrients in your diet? Here’s a multivitamin. So on and so forth.
New studies are released weekly. The newest piece I found was on research done by DuPont Nutrition & Health—a premier specialty food ingredient leader in the world.
DuPont Nutrition & Health is a global leader in this channel and in just the United States they have 93 offices where they conduct business daily. They ended up diving into the $2.7B category of ready-to-drink high-protein beverages to conduct some research and gain consumer feedback. What they were trying to understand is what the perfect combination of protein is in order to have the masses enjoy the drink.
They looked over 65 high-protein shakes and narrowed it down to 20 that they wanted to use for the study. They found that the ideal amount of protein, based on consumer feedback, is 25 grams per serving. In terms of taste, DuPont Nutrition & Health found that consumers enjoyed beverages that were a mixture of dairy and soy proteins combined.
DuPont Nutrition & Health quoted in the study’s conclusion that “this study adds to existing data confirming the benefit of soy and dairy blends in driving better flavor in the category. All proteins, including dairy and soy, have inherent positive and negative flavor attributes. By blending them, you can create formulas that maximize their positive attributes, and minimize any negatives.”
The findings that DuPont Nutrition & Health discovered will help manufacturers create new blends while keeping their raw material costs down due to soy protein being an inexpensive alternative to dairy based proteins. Another protein source that everyone should keep their eye on is pea protein. I have a great article I wrote on this: Pea Protein the Future of Sports Nutrition. Pea protein in terms of absorption is right between whey and casein, whereas soy protein is closer to casein in that it is slower digesting. By blending a whey with soy, you are able to have the best of both worlds—a protein that is digested and utilized very quickly alongside a slower digesting protein for a slower more sustained release.
While the bulk of bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts will still grab a whey concentrate or isolate off the shelf and bypass anything soy or pea protein related, having more choices available will give the end consumer more options to fulfill their daily protein requirements if they can’t do so through whole foods. There is no perfect protein that fits everyone’s needs, so by having several choices it gives the consumers a much better buying experience.