Protein as a macronutrient isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, said Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for research firm GlobalData.
“We expect to see companies find ways to tie into consumer enthusiasm toward protein,” he said.
The market already is bursting with protein-packed baked snacks and foods not only for athletes but also for everyday consumers and families. Parents may be more inclined to purchase a protein bar as a meal replacement for an on-the-go child. However, finding flavor profiles to match each consumer group is critical.
New extrusion methods are bringing more puffed, popped, dried and crisped textures to the salty snacks segment and new ways to incorporate proteins into those products. Examples include puffs made with chickpeas, beets and even activated charcoal. Crunch-A-Mame from Greenwave Foods, Mulberry, Ark., are organic edamame puffs that contain 7 grams of protein per serving and include flavors such as barbecue, cheddar and ranch.
Chips, popcorn and crackers are similarly finding new ways to incorporate protein. A brand called Shrewd Food, Hauppauge, N.Y., features a line of snack puffs in sweet and savory flavors with 14 grams of protein per serving. SkinnyPop, now owned by the Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., is unveiling protein popcorn, with 5 grams per serving, in ranch and cheddar and cracked pepper varieties. Ips Perfect Snacks, Studio City, Calif., offers chips and popcorn made with whey protein. Flavors include cinnamon churro, barbecue and aged white cheddar.
The push for more protein reflects a change in consumer eating habits. They are replacing meals more often with quick, nutritious snacks to get them through their busy days. To attract the attention of these consumers, food companies are realizing that snacking occurs across the entire retail store, not just in the chip aisle.