Protein Market Trends

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Protein Market - Trends 1

Four trends in the plant-based protein market are refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives, non-soy plant-based protein beverages, pea protein, and plant-based high-protein baked products.

Refrigerated Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

  • According to IRI data, refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives was the fastest growing (310.7% YoY) category in the "protein as primary functional ingredient" category in the 52 weeks ending Feb 24, 2019.
  • According to data published by the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association, while the conventional meat category grew by 2% in 2019, plant-based meat grew by 10% (to $800 million), and the refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives segment grew at a significantly higher rate of 37%.
  • Caroline Bushnell of The Good Food Institute believes that "this is just the beginning of a massive growth period for plant-based foods". The growth will be the result of consumers opting for more sustainable food alternatives and innovations in the category that will result in taste improvements, the largest driver of food choices.
  • In September 2019, Kellogg Co. introduced Incogmeato, the "first ready-to-cook plant-based burger to be sold in the refrigerated meat case".
  • In 2017, Maple Leaf Foods, a leading meat company in Canada acquired Lightlife Foods, a manufacturer of green meat substitutes with a 38% market share in the United States refrigerated plant protein market.

Protein Beverages

  • While protein beverage formulations are typically dairy-based, alternative protein beverages have witnessed increased demand in recent times as a result of consumers opting for lactose-free or vegetarian diets, or because they perceive other health benefits.
  • In addition to protein, plant-based protein beverages provide additional nutrients, including fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. However, they are more challenging to develop than dairy products as they have low solubility and tend to be off-color.
  • As a result of the growing demand, there have been greater innovations in the type and flavor of plant-based beverages in the market. Several non-soy beverages such as oats, rice, and barley have been introduced in the market.
  • In November 2018, Hope & Sesame launched the first ever sesame-based milk. It introduced five non-GMO flavors: original, unsweetened original, chocolate, vanilla, and chocolate hazelnut. The product took two years to develop and contains 8 gms of protein per serving.
  • Califia Farms launched Ubermilk, a blend of oats, peas, and sunflower seeds, in February 2019. A serving (8 oz.) of Ubermilk contains 8 grams of protein and "eight essential amino acids".

Pea Protein

  • As pea protein is an allergen-free and non-GMO alternative to soy, it has seen rapid adoption in recent times.
  • The "specialty nutrition sector for sports, clinical applications, and weight management" is the largest market for pea protein; however, meat and dairy alternative manufacturers have started taking notice too.
  • A variety of food types--plant-based beverages, cereals, and chips--have been quick to incorporate pea protein. Several bakers have started using pea protein as an allergen-free alternative to eggs, wheat, and dairy.
  • Several public schools in North America use textured vegetable protein in their food programs as they are a good and economical source of protein and fiber. Textured pea protein is the fastest-growing segment within the textured vegetable protein category "due to its application as meat analogs, extenders & substitutes in Hamburger, ground meat, stuffing, sausages, vegetarian products, Bolognese sauces, pizza dressing, and nuggets."
  • As pea proteins lack two essential amino acids, lysine and threonine, it is often combined with whey, rice, or soy while remaining an allergen-free and sustainably-sourced alternative to animal-based protein.
  • Protes Vegan Baked Chips, Halo Top Dairy Free Frozen Dessert, and Daiya Greek Yogurt Alternative are new products in the market that use pea protein.
  • In October 2018, DuPont Nutrition & Health introduced TRUPRO 2000 Pea Protein, a new pea protein beverage.

Baked Goods

  • As a result of animal-based protein being substituted by plant-based protein, and an increasing number of individuals trying to consume more "muscle-building nutrients", there is a growing demand for plant-based baked products with high protein content.
  • The number of baked products making a protein claim doubled between 2013 and 2017. According to Euromonitor, baked products with protein will double by 2025. In the United States, "shelf-stable baking mix & ingredients & flour" grew 64.4% in the 52 weeks ending Feb 24, 2019.
  • Canada is seen as the knowledge hub for plant-based-protein-rich baked products. In 2016, the UK's largest bakery brand, Warburtons, collaborated with Canadian researchers to develop "dough from pea flour that produces bread that looks and tastes almost like any other loaf, but which also has more protein and less of the carbs and gluten that more consumers are trying to avoid."
  • In recent years, Canada has also seen the launch of plant-based high-protein bread such as Dimpflmeier’s Carb Smart High Protein Bread (2016), "the highest protein and lowest carb bread in North America", and Country Harvest's soy and wheat-based protein bread.
  • Blue Diamond aggressively markets its almond protein powder for baking, while Cargill manufactures pea protein flour for baked goods that give baked goods a superior texture and high protein content.

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Protein Market - Trends 2

Cultured Meat, Mycoprotein, and Edible Insects are additional trends in the protein market. Below is an overview of the findings.

Cultured Meat

  • Cultured meat is a meat alternative grown by scientists in a laboratory environment. Research and development around cultured meats began in 2013 and the first-ever lab-grown burger made its public debut in the same year.
  • Cultured meat is developed using "tissue-culture technology (the process by which animal cells are regenerated using a single cell as the source) to propogate animal cells in vitro."
  • The process entails the creation of muscle tissue that imitates/resembles animal muscles and contains a similar protein profile.

What Makes it a Trend

  • Research shows that about 29.8%, 48.7%, and 59.3% of American, Indian, and Chinese consumers, respectively, are extremely open to the consumption of cell-based meat on a regular basis. Also, interest in cultured meat has grown by 16% CAGR since 2013.
  • There about "nine cell-culturing companies" in the United States and about 26 globally. It is also possible that there might be additional shadow entities in China. Leading companies in the U.S. had announced that they would launch their products before the end of 2019.
  • Cultured meat producers have received significant investments from top venture capital investors and meat corporates. U.S.-based Memphis Meats, a producer of lab-grown meat products, intends that its clean poultry products will be in Supermarkets by 2021. It has received backing from DFJ, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and meat corporates including Tyson Foods.
  • While initial costs were considerably high, companies have been able to cut the costs significantly. According to the Washington Post, some U.S. companies are reported to have brought the cost down to $50 per pound.


  • The current strain on traditional protein sources such as beef is driving the interest in cultured meat products. The trend is also appealing because of its eco-friendly aspect.
  • Other drivers include "innovations in cellular agriculture and the rising inclination toward animal welfare and environmental sustainability."


  • According to Food Navigator, cultured meat products are already being used for applications such as sausages, nuggets, burgers, cooked ham, and meatballs. Biotech Foods and Memphis Meats are among the companies implementing the trend.


  • Mycoprotein is a protein alternative that is made up of "whole, unprocessed, filamentous fungal biomass, commonly known as mold." Its production entails the "fermentation of biological feedstock."
  • Fact.MR defines it as a "high protein vegetable ingredient" commonly used as a meat alternative due to its satiety benefits, cholesterol benefits, and nutritional composition.

What Makes it a Trend

  • The mycoprotein global market was valued at about $200 in 2018 and it was expected to continue rising at a CAGR of 12% between 2019 and 2027.
  • The products are expected to experience increasing growth globally and the market is set up for a powerful surge due to "increased processing of high-quality protein products."
  • Fact.MR classifies mycoprotein products within the plant-based category, which is the most significant type of alternative protein. The United States is the second-largest market for mycoprotein products, after Europe.


  • The growing 'veganism' trend and the growing need to substitute animal meat products is fueling growth of the trend. Also, the prevalent cases of "soya allergies and wheat gluten intolerance" are contributing towards the growth of mycoprotein.
  • Meat production is extremely strenuous to both the environment and resources which makes mycoprotein's sustainable production techniques more appealing.
  • Additionally, the growing preference for healthier high-protein alternatives as well as the "development of value-added products with protein additives and other nutritional goods that offer decreased preparation time and improve overall shelf life" are among the main reason for the growth of the market.


  • 3F BIO Ltd has partnered with nine companies to produce low-cost food proteins. Enye Technologies is developing mycoprotein products for B2C AND B2B.
  • Quorn Foods, the largest mycoprotein brand in the world, is known for products such as chicken-less slices, vegan burgers, and 'fishless' fingers.

Edible Insects

  • According to McKinsey, crickets are the most popular edible insects and among the best sources of protein. While some producers have managed to mill flour from crickets, they have not yet achieved scale due to the high costs of crickets.
  • Currently, food producers are in the early stages of exploring the viability of grasshoppers as protein sources. Other insect types are mostly used by the animal feed industry.

What Makes it a Trend

  • About two billion people globally consume insects, according to the UN's FAO. Insects are growing as an eco-friendly alternative protein source in the world.
  • CB Insights states that over 1,000 insect species are eaten in about 80% of the countries in the world and consumers have been steadily adjusting their attitudes towards insect-based foods.
  • Because of its potential to displace meat-based products, the trend has also attracted funding by major companies and foundations. Examples of startups in the space that have managed to raise funds successfully include Bitty Foods ($1.2 million) and Exo ($5 million).
  • Apart from being identified as a trend by several research resources including Innova Market Insights and Benchmark, the industry is expected to hit the $1.2 billion mark by 2023.


  • Similar to most plant-based alternatives, edible insects are seeing growth because they offer a healthier alternative to beef or pork products at a significantly lower cost to the environment. According to analysts, the younger generation consider beef to be too expensive for both their well-being and the environment.
  • Also, Gen Z, the "most health-aware and environmentally conscious" demographic, is the most receptive of this trend. They are the less likely to be put off by the 'ick' factor of eating insects.


  • Oklahoma-based All Things Bugs is developing a fine cricket powder that can be used as an ingredient in recipes. San Francisco-based produces snacks from cricket powders.
  • U.S.-based restaurants such as Denver-based Linger serve meals with insects including black ants, crickets, and grasshoppers as base ingredients.


The research team managed to identify three more trends in the protein market, specifically surrounding newer/cleaner sources. While we managed to find insights into the trends in the United States, they were not enough to provide a robust analysis. There was not much on the other North American countries. Therefore, we combined the said insights with global data to define the trends, their drivers, and applications. Probably, there is limited data for the United States market alone because the trends are relatively new and the amount of data that is currently available for any particular country may not be enough for analysts/experts to analyze the trends.
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Protein Market - Trends 3

Three additional trends in the protein market include water lentil protein, potato protein, and hydrolyzed plant protein. Details regarding these trends have been provided below.

Water Lentil Protein

  • Water lentils are plants that grow in water. The plants are protein-rich and can grow within a short time in any season. Water lentil proteins are becoming increasingly popular in the food and beverage industry since they solve supply issues as consumers shift towards plant-based proteins.
  • Water lentil protein is considered a healthy alternative to animal proteins. In addition, consumers are looking for healthier food options. As a result, there has been an increase in demand for water lentil protein with North America and Europe being the largest players in the market.
  • Water lentil protein is now a trend given the increased demand for the food alternative. Furthermore, the water lentil protein market is predicted to experience exponential growth between 2017 and 2025.
  • Examples of companies that are leading this trend include Parabel and Lentein. Parabel is harnessing the advantages of water lentils by using the plants to develop products with different protein densities. Conversely, Lentein is a high-protein food product that is rich in nutrients from water lentils.

Potato Protein

  • Potato Proteins are industrial byproducts of potato starch. They are harnessed during starch separation. As consumers shift towards vegan diets, the demand for potato proteins has significantly increased.
  • The increased demand for animal protein substitutes in nutritional supplements and sport nutrition has directly influenced the trend.
  • The potato protein market is a trend considering the increased demand. It is predicted that between 2019 and 2024, the potato protein market will be valued at $168.47 million, which is equivalent to an annual growth rate of 7%.
  • Examples of companies that are leading the trend include Agridient and Kemin Industries.

Hydrolyzed Plant Protein

  • Hydrolyzed plant protein is obtained from plants like wheat and soybean. Through acid hydrolysis, the protein is broken down into amino acids. Hydrolyzed plant protein is primarily used as a flavor enhancer in several processed foods, such as sauces, meat products, and stews.
  • There has been increased usage of hydrolyzed plant protein in food and functional beverages. Furthermore, there is increased consumer awareness about the advantages of hydrolyzed plant protein.
  • With the growing vegan culture, the demand for hydrolyzed plant protein has significantly increased. The segment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5% from 2019 to 2029.
  • Companies that are leading this trend include Jones-Hamilton Co. and Caremoli USA Inc.
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Protein Market - Trends 4

Algae protein and yeast-based protein are additional trends in the protein market. An overview of the findings is presented below.

Algae Proteins

Drivers and Examples
  • A key driver of algae protein trend is the quest for sustainable protein sources, especially at a time when the world is grappling with global warming and dwindling water resources.
  • Considering that animal rearing is a major contributor of greenhouse gases, algae proteins provide a sustainable source of clean protein. Research shows that some algae contain more protein than meat, a situation that is spurring this trend.
  • Another driver is the fact that algae proteins are all natural and non-GMO. Today, Non-GMO is a key selling point in the food industry.
  • Corbion NV is already offering algae derived protein for beverages. The company has geographical presence in North America and Europe, among other regions.
  • Triton is another company producing natural algae proteins. Its algae-based heme does not require genetic engineering to produce.

Yeast-Based Proteins

  • Yeast-based proteins are produced by altering sections of the DNA sequence of food-grade yeast such that when the microorganisms are fed with particular nutrients, they generate numerous essential proteins found in milk. The proteins have all the functionalities and taste of milk proteins.
  • Yeast-based proteins are trending because of the increasing interest in protein sources away from traditional animal proteins.
  • According to the United Nations, animals as a major source of proteins are also major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, cows release more methane gas because they eat and drink more. Thus, the pursuit for cleaner sources of protein has created increased interest in yeast-based proteins as a substitute for cow milk.
  • With the world population projected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050, the need for affordable, sustainable, and healthy protein is on the rise. Consequently, there is a shift towards alternative plant proteins, including yeasts. Vegetarians are also having an effect on the need to have non-animal proteins, hence driving the demand for yeast-based proteins.
  • FFW has developed yeast-based protein in the form of chicken strips that contain 25% protein and dried crisps containing 45% protein. The remaining challenge is how to improve the texture of the yeast protein developed.
  • Perfect Day is training yeast to produce milk components without a cow. The company is seeking to produce cost-competitive milk ingredients with a formula that does not alter the texture or flavor of the resultant product.

Research Strategy

We managed to find two more trends in the protein market, specifically surrounding newer/cleaner sources. Although we managed to find some insights into the trends in North America, they were not enough to guarantee a full-bodied analysis. Thus, we pooled the insights with global data to define the trends, their drivers, and applications. Perhaps, there is limited data for the North American market alone because the trends are relatively new and the amount of data that is currently available for any particular region may not be sufficient for analysts to explore the trends.

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Protein Market - Innovations

One innovation in the protein market in North America is the development of "innovative products" by incorporating dairy proteins in baking mixes, snacks, beverages, and other food items. Another innovation in the protein market in North America is the production of lab-grown meat (protein) known as a meat alternative or meatless meat — which has generated attention across the market.

Development of Innovative Products by Incorporating Dairy Proteins in Snacks, Beverages, Baked Products, Among Other Food Products.

  • Some innovations in the North American dairy protein segment are contributing to the overall growth of its protein market. These innovations occur where dairy products are combined with other ingredients to obtain new or innovative products.
  • The North American market for dairy protein will grow with a CAGR of 6.21% between 2019 and 2024. One of the factors driving this growth is the incorporation of dairy proteins in various foods as protein manufacturers keep implementing innovative methods or ways to offer consumers more options.
  • Over 1,000 new protein-containing products are introduced in the North American market every year. The development of "innovative products" by incorporating dairy proteins in baking mixes, snacks, beverages, as well as other food items is leading to a rise in the consumption of protein in North America.
  • DMI's food scientists recently helped McDonald's Corporation, Chicago, to develop (formulate) a low-fat chocolate beverage that contains dairy milk that was scheduled for sale nationwide from January 2020. The new (innovative) formulation contains 25% less sugar when compared to McDonald's previous chocolate-milk products.
  • "Belle Chevre" recently launched a single-serve cream cheese that contains dairy proteins within North America (North America includes the United States). According to an article on innovations (new developments) in the dairy aisles, Belle Chevre's new (innovative) product has 2.5 times more protein, less cholesterol, less fat. It is easier to digest when compared to regular cheese.
  • California Dairies Inc. (CDI), is a California-based cooperative that produces about 42% of California's milk and was recently named as the winner of a "Breakthrough Award for Dairy Ingredient Innovation." The company achieved this feat by developing a type of milk protein crisps utilizing "natural milk protein isolate powder" (MPI). The protein is produced in a process that involves the "ultrafiltration of Grade A milk," which gets sourced from local dairy farms in California.
  • CDI produced a new protein-based (dairy-containing) product with a distinctive crispy texture through the use of extrusion technology.

Innovative Meat Alternatives Known as Meatless Meat

  • Historically, alternatives to meat in North American have contained lentils, beans, and legumes. Recent innovations in the form of lab-grown meats have attracted attention across the North American protein market.
  • Factory farm systems have contributed to several problems, from alterations in antibiotic resistance to global warming (climate crisis). Advocates of meat alternatives believe that innovations that provide meatless meats (alternatives to conventional meat) could help reduce the adverse effects of traditional meat on the globe.
  • Recent advances (innovations) in lab-grown meats have highlighted an additional source of protein in the North American market.
  • Experts often refer to lab-grown meat as meat alternatives or meatless meat. Another innovative protein similar to lab-grown meat, also referred to as meatless meat by experts, is plant-based meat. Both plant-based meat and lab-grown meat are innovations that give rise to more great-tasting protein options for consumers and are known as meat alternatives.
  • One of the companies operating in North America that have keyed into innovations related to alternative proteins is Burger King. The company has more than 17,000 locations spread across over 100 countries within the United States territories and recently surprised its loyal guests when it served them "Impossible™ WHOPPER."
  • The Impossible™ WHOPPER is, does not contain conventional beef (traditional meat). It is as juicy, delicious, and crave-able as the regular WHOPPER. Burger King restaurant is the first quick-service restaurant in the United States to serve the innovative (award-winning), plant-based meat produced by the food startup known as Impossible Foods.
  • In 2020, CNBC announced that Kroger recently launched an innovative ground beef (meatless beef) as well as burger patties via its Simple Truth Emerge line. More companies are indicating interest in meat substitutes known to mimic conventional meat. Kroger is "one of the largest grocers" within North America.
  • With the current growth trends, United States grocery stores will sell about $7.2 billion worth of meat substitutes by the year 2025. More consumers will continue to demand less of conventional meat due to environmental or health concerns. Experts predict that the demand for innovative meat (an innovative protein) will continue to rise.

Research Strategy

The study reviews published trends for innovations occurring within the protein market relevant to North America. The study also investigates some companies operating in the region that have keyed into these innovations by implementing them or by implementing something similar. The study has examined several articles and includes only sections or paragraphs of those articles that refer to innovations occurring within North America (the United States and Canada are parts of the continent known as North America). Few publicly available resources have limited their discussion to innovations in the protein market occurring strictly within North America. Consequently, global data got examined, and data related to the North American continent or states within North America got extracted and are in the study.
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Protein Market - Insights/Stats

North America is a hot region for alternative sources of protein, with the whey market growing there, and US-based companies dominating the global plant-based protein market.

The North American whey protein market is growing

  • The North American whey protein market is predicted to reach US$2.46 billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 6.7% between now and then.
  • Combined with increased consumer awareness of dietary proteins, this market is growing as whey protein is being used in functional food, infant formula and clinical nutrition.
  • In the US, protein is seen as a key component of weight loss strategies, and protein supplements are commonly available as whey powders there. A significant share of the population are opting to use them, and see them as part of their fitness goals.
  • The Mexico market is likely to drive the overall whey protein market at the fastest pace, as young people in the country are fitness conscious and turning away from dairy.

North American whey companies are focusing on cheese as a source

  • For the big companies in the region, cheese production is the "largest and most viable source of whey." Companies are "strengthening their production resources for whey protein, by investing in cheese production across the region." Whey can also be obtained from milk, but this method seems to be less popular.
  • According to Research and Markets, key players in North America include Agropur MSI LLC, American Dairy Producers Institute, Arla Foods, Carbery, Davisco foods international Inc, DMK Group, Fonterra Co-operative Group, Hilmar cheese company, inc, Grande Cheese Company, and Milk Specialties Global.
  • However, on a global scale, the competition between companies in this market segment is expected to get more intense.

Many of the leading plant-based protein companies are US-based

  • Half of the top global companies in the plant-based protein market, as identified by Reportlinker, are based in the US. They are, Cargill Inc. (US), ADM (US), DuPont Danisco (US), Glanbia (Ireland), Kerry Group (Ireland), Tate & Lyle (UK), Ingredion Inc. (US), Burcon NutraScience Corporation (Canada), Royal DSM N.V. (Netherlands), Sotexpro S.A (France), Axiom Foods (US), and The Scoular Company (US).
  • The number of US-based companies reflects both the growing popularity of alternatives to meat as well as the large number of plant-based protein products available in the country. The number of "new US food and beverage products that mentioned “plant-based” grew by 268% between 2012 and 2018".
  • In the US, plant-based protein products are made of soy, wheat, pea, canola, and rice.
  • All up, North America makes up 40% of the global market.

Insects as a source of protein are common in Mexico, but a novelty in the US.

  • While Winko sells snacks made of grasshoppers in Mexico, eating the insects directly, usually flavored with chili and garlic powder, is common in the central part of the country.
  • Some 60-70% of the grasshopper is high quality protein, and the insects also contain calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B.
  • Mexicans also regularly consume other insects, including agave worms, ants, and ant larvae.
  • Insect consumption in Mexico is affordable and also seen as sustainable.
  • With population growth and increasing concerns about food sustainability, there have been some initiatives in the US to promote insect eating to children and to overcome stigma. Restaurants and supermarket are also serving or providing particular insect products, though more as a novelty.
  • The global insect protein market was worth USD 99.30 billion in 2018 and it is anticipated to grow at a very strong rate of 45%.

The US sports protein market is large

  • The US market for sports protein powders was worth $4.14 billion in 2018.
  • Protein powders dominate the sports nutrition market, at 70%.
  • Companies in this segment are seeing strong sales online, and are expanding their brands to be mass-facing, selling at stores like Walmart. That is, more casual exercisers are joining consumers like elite athletes and body builders.
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Protein Market - Consumer Insights/Opinions

A growing number of consumers in the United States are shifting their consumption habits to match their health, wellness, and environmental concerns. Over the past few years, there has been significant growth in the consumption of soy protein, plant-based meat alternative products, plant-based dairy alternative products, products containing pea protein, and protein supplements by American consumers.

Increased Consumer Consumption of Soy Protein

  • According to the 26th Annual Survey conducted by the United Soybean Board on Consumer Attitudes About Soyfoods and Health, the preference of consuming more soy is attributed to consumers wanting to be more healthy, rising interest in sustainable foods, and increasing popularity among millennials. The report revealed that over 74% of Americans consumed some form of soy protein in 2019 as compared to 64% in 2011.
  • Some top types of soy foods that consumers prefer to eat are soy energy bars, soymilk, edamame, soy veggie burgers, and tofu. It has been found that over 61% of consumers who have tried a soy-based product “eat at least one of the products regularly”. The survey revealed that 82% of American respondents have tried soy foods, 54% willingly look for products that contain soy, and 74% consider soy as “healthy”.
  • Today’s consumers are highly concerned about environmental responsibility and sustainability. According to the survey, over 73% of American respondents lay a large emphasis on products that have been manufactured by sustainable practices.
  • In the consumption of soy-based products, 35% of respondents claim to consume soyfood at least once a week. With rising health concerns among Americans, the soy protein ingredients industry is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years. North America is found to currently dominate the soy protein global market with the United States having the largest market share.

Rising Demand for Plant-Based Meat Alternatives

  • American consumers have been actively making healthier lifestyle and purchasing choices over the years. A large number of these consumers have shifted from consuming animal protein to plant-based meat alternatives for reasons such as protecting animals, changing taste preferences, health concerns, and preserving the environment. As a result, the plant-based protein market is growing at a rapid pace.
  • With consumer preference leaning more towards plant-based proteins, manufacturers are looking at meat alternatives that provide sustainable, functional, and nutritional attributes, including organic and non-GMO options. There is a large consumer segment that drives this market significantly in North America — flexitarians. These consumers are working to reduce their consumption of meat in their daily diet and are actively seeking plant-based meat alternatives that are “meat-identical” in both flavor and texture.
  • According to a report published by The Good Food Institute, over 11.9% of American families consumed plant-based meat in 2019 as compared to 10.5% in 2018.
  • According to Ingredion’s Global Protein Strategy and Innovation, Julie Emsing Mann, consumer insights, financial and technological investments reveal that plant-based meat alternatives market is expected to grow at an accelerated rate over the next 10 years.

Consumer Perception of Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives

  • Over the past year, the non-dairy alternatives market has increased both in consumption and popularity, in the United States. According to a report published by McKinsey on the views and behaviors of the US dairy consumer, over 62% of dairy consumers have tried non-dairy alternatives in the past year. Forty-one percent of these consumers claim that the primary factor for their purchase is the belief that non-dairy alternative products are healthier.
  • The report also suggests that consumers are more concerned about the environment along with general health aspects. According to the report, 29% of respondents tried plant-based dairy alternatives because they wanted to and 25% of respondents purchase these non-dairy alternatives because someone in their family is lactose-intolerant.
  • Reasons for not purchasing non-dairy alternatives include taste difference (48%), expensive (27%), and the need to support local dairy farmers (23%).
  • In comparison, over 24% of respondents believe that animal-based protein is very healthy, 33% of respondents believe that animal-based protein is somewhat healthy, 18% believe it is slightly healthy, 13% believe it is slightly unhealthy, 8% believe it is somewhat unhealthy, and 4% believe it is very unhealthy.
  • While the US dairy industry is continuing to grow, the non-dairy alternative market is rising considerably due to increasing demand from American consumers.

Rising Awareness of Pea Protein Products

  • A survey conducted by Streetbees found that consumption of pea protein products is gaining slow traction as compared to other plant-based protein products. The survey revealed that over 55% of respondents have not heard of pea protein while only 24% of respondents have tried products containing pea protein. Of those who have consumed products with pea protein, over 36% of them said they were tasty.
  • A closer study of consumer perception showed that 63% of them believe that pea protein is organic while 36% believe it to be sustainable. The survey also revealed that 61% of American and UK consumers prefer to obtain their protein from a vegan diet.
  • Pea protein ingredients are gaining popularity as alternatives to gluten and dairy products. In the global market, this segment is expected to grow to reach $176 million by the year 2025. North America was the largest market for pea protein products in 2017 and is expected to hold its position in the global market during the period 2018-2025.
  • Since ingredients containing pea protein is one of the major alternatives to meat protein, large companies are making an effort to raise awareness on the health and functional benefits of consuming products with pea protein.

Growing Consumption of Protein Supplements

  • Protein supplements in the form of protein shakes and protein bars are popular among various types of consumers such as athletes, busy individuals, and aging seniors. Consumers who have specialty diets such as ketogenic and paleo are also seeking different sources for their protein intake.
  • American consumers are more aware today than they were a year ago on the health benefits of protein supplements, some of which are increased energy, reduced hunger, and increased strength and muscle mass. Protein bars and shakes are popular among consumers primarily due to their effect on the body’s metabolism and muscle development.
  • According to Gelita’s marketing coordinator, Heather Arment, consumers in the United States prefer protein supplements to maximize health benefits while still enjoying the products’ taste and smell. Protein supplements made from plant sources are more popular and in higher demand than products made from animal protein. Consumers believe that plant-based protein bars and shakes are healthier, cleaner, more sustainable, and environmentally more friendly than those containing animal protein.
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Protein Market - Packaging

Some insights about the packaging of protein products in North America and globally include transparent packaging with sincere marketing, listing ingredients that indicate less sugar and more protein, creating health awareness, clean label products, and the use of cost-effective packaging solutions.

Transparent Packaging With Sincere Marketing

  • Protein-based products that have transparent packaging reflect honesty. What has been indicated on the outside of the package should also be reflected on the inside.
  • RX Bars are among the best examples of protein-based products that have adopted packaging transparency. What makes them unique in the market is "they use only minimal, whole-food ingredients like eggs, dates, and almonds in their protein bars", and the list of their ingredients is found on "the entire front of the package, even dwarfing the RX logo." The message here is clear: "What’s on the outside of the package is indicative of what’s inside (and what’s not inside, compared to other protein bars), who they are, and what their values are. "
  • With Generation Z caring deeply about the environment, they are more likely to purchase protein-based products that have environmentally sustainable packaging. So if a company's protein product is environmentally sustainable, reduces waste, or offers something unique and of good quality, they have to indicate the same on their packaging.
  • Companies offering protein-based products in North America or globally have to be sincere with their marketing. If the younger generation realizes that a company is only paying lip service to a cause, they won't hesitate to blast it on social media creating a huge discredit their brand. For instance, if a company's product uses natural, non-GMO ingredients, they shouldn't bury that information, but reveal it in their packaging as this will attract loyal customers.

Ingredients that Indicate Low Sugar and More Protein

  • Protein bars with less sugar, fewer calories, and more proteins are considered superior. The packaging of new protein-based products or plant-based protein products should indicate the quantity of sugar, calories, and proteins for customer verification. The founder of Zeek kids’ protein bar stated that 'the first thing moms look for on the label is sugar.'
  • Protein consumers cite sugar content and natural ingredient as some of the most important attributes they look for. Nick Morgan, the owner of Nutrition Integrated Ltd, explains that people consider vegan protein sources such as rice, pea, and hemp to be natural. He goes on to explain that "more fruit and nut-based bars tend to use vegan sources of nutrition while the low sugar/high (20g) protein bars classically use milk protein, combined with soy, whey, and collagen."
  • Healthy protein products with great taste are likely natural and contain less sugar and attract more brand loyalty as trust is built between the consumer and the company offering the product.

Create Health Awareness

  • According to a report by MarketWatch, health awareness is escalating and there is progress in the protein bars market due to the increase in "the number of health centers and gymnasiums." "Producers of protein bars are stimulating their products with constituents that promote health, wellness and overall aptness to grab the consideration of health-conscious customers."
  • WICKED Protein Bars, from All In Nutrition LLC, are good examples of protein products that promote health awareness in their packaging. They've mentioned in their packaging that their product is GMO-free, gluten-free, in addition to having low sugar and more protein. This product "received the industry’s first Purity Award and “Clean Label” Certification from the Clean Label Project" which demonstrates the brand’s commitment to product safety and health of consumers.
  • When a company offers protein products and packaging that create health awareness, it is an indication that they are committed to both the short and long term health of their consumers, creating brand loyalty.

Clean Label Food Products

  • The popularity of plant-based proteins is linked to the increasing number of consumers who are seeking 'clean label' or organic products. This is because environmental concerns and animal welfare are considered important factors that influence the clean label movement, as plant-based foods are considered cleaner than animal-based ones. This implies that if the ingredients on the packaging of a company's protein products are plant-based, the products will attract more consumers aligned to the clean label movement. "Labeling plant-based products with the name of the animal product they are imitating (e.g., almond milk, veggie sausage) makes this shift easier for consumers who are beginning to lead a plant-based diet."
  • "All In Nutrition LLC aims to become the leader in clean protein snacks through its brand, WICKED Protein." The ingredients in their packaging indicate a product that is plant-based as opposed to being animal-based.
  • Protein products that list several ingredients on the front of their packaging that have clean connotations end up instilling "trust in recognizable and healthy food among the general consumer."

Cost-Effective Packaging Solutions

  • "Whether the products are derived from soy, whey, or casein sources, protein packaging solutions address merchandising, marketing, and transportation concerns, alongside the need to maintain product integrity and provide a positive user experience." There are several effective packaging options offered by progressive packaging companies including plastic jars and tubs, bottle filling, stand-up pouches, and cardboard and metal canisters.
  • The surge in the demand for protein products "not only creates opportunities for protein producers but also for forward-looking packagers prepared to meet the rising demand." This supports the expansion of the protein products industry.

Research Strategy

In the attempt to identify the insights about the packaging of protein products, we expanded our scope to not only focus on North America, but also globally, because most of the information found was not limited to only the U.S. or North America.


From Part 01
  • "This year manufacturers can expect to see growth in pea protein-fortified products, as well as the emergence of new proteins like lupin and water lentils."
  • "Innova Market Insights found that younger people’s interest in plant-based products is driven by health, sustainability, and animal welfare concerns, while older people are choosing plant-based primarily for health reasons. "
  • "The top plant-based proteins in the U.S. market today include: Legumes – soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, and peas Nuts – almonds and cashews Seeds – hemp, chia, and flax Grains – wheat, rice, quinoa, and amaranth"
  • "These can be added as protein isolates or concentrates, as flours or purees, or as the whole food. Dairy alternatives (which include plant-based milks, ice creams, and yogurts) are often made with soybeans, almonds, cashews, hemp, or flax, while meat alternatives commonly rely on soy protein isolate or wheat protein concentrate. "
  • "Quinoa and amaranth, as flours or whole, are popular in cereals and baked goods. Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and fava beans can also be added as flours and are showing up in baked goods, chips, and high-protein pastas."
  • "Market newcomer pea protein has done extremely well as an allergen-free, functional protein replacement to soy. Furthermore, unlike soy, all pea is non-GMO. Pea protein has quickly expanded into other plant-based dairy products, as well as cereals, chips, and beverages. New products using pea protein include Protes Vegan Baked Chips, Daiya Greek Yogurt Alternative, and Halo Top Dairy Free Frozen Dessert (which uses a blend of pea and rice proteins)."
  • "One promising legume is lupin (or lupini bean), which is a functional, allergen-free substitute to soy. A German company has developed a lupin protein isolate that’s currently being used in a plant-based ice cream line in Europe. "
  • "The rise in the adoption of plant-based protein food & beverages owing to the awareness among consumers about the benefits offered by a plant-based diet is one of the major factors spurring the demand of plant-based protein beverages across the world. Moreover, in response to this trend, leading plant protein producers are introducing new and high-protein sources in the global market. For instance, DuPont Nutrition & Health expanded its plant-based protein product range with a new pea protein for beverages called TRUPRO 2000 Pea Protein in October 2018."
  • "A dramatic rise in demand for almond milk has occurred over the past five years at the expense of soy milk, the industry's traditional top product. Almond milk's share of industry revenue has grown to 68.0% in 2019. During the same period, sales of soy milk have declined and currently represent just 13.8% of industry revenue."
From Part 08
  • "Producers of protein bars are stimulating their products with constituents that promote health, wellness and overall aptness to grab the consideration of health-conscious customers."
  • "WICKED Protein Bars received the industry’s first Purity Award and “Clean Label” Certification from the Clean Label Project."
  • "They use only minimal, whole-food ingredients like eggs, dates and almonds in their protein bars."
  • "What’s on the outside of the package is indicative of what’s inside (and what’s not inside, compared to other protein bars), who they are, and what their values are. "
  • "The ingredients list takes up the entire front of the package, even dwarfing the RX logo."
  • "Whether the products are derived from soy, whey, or casein sources, protein packaging solutions address merchandising, marketing, and transportation concerns, alongside the need to maintain product integrity and provide a positive user experience."