Do you know what’s really driving the surge in plant protein?

Look on any ‘Food Trends’ list and you will almost surely find plant protein.

Look on any ‘Food Trends’ list and you will almost surely find plant protein.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the plant protein market is estimated to be worth $7.67 billion in 2015, and is expected to increase to $10.12 billion by 2020.

As consumer understanding of the importance of our three macronutrients evolves, we have seen a change in the perception of carbohydrates, fats, and now protein.

Protein itself has moved from niche to mainstream. For example, protein was once most strongly associated with bodybuilders – and primarily used by a younger, male demographic – prized mostly for its ability to build muscle.

According to the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), consumer awareness of those seeking foods high in protein grew from 39% in 2006 to 53% in 2014.2 It also noted that females are now just as likely as males to seek out foods with protein. The macronutrient is also becoming popular with the Boomer crowd.3



Whether ready to drink (RTD) formulas, bars, snacks or powders, people are looking at protein as an important building block for stamina (energy), health and convenient satiation.

While animal proteins still dominate the market, there has been a surge of interest in plant proteins. Plant proteins can include a wide range of sources – including soy, rice, hemp to name a few.

The demographic expressing the most interest tends to be consumers between the ages of 25 and 39 years. These are the most likely to view plant protein as healthful and seek it out, followed by those under age 25.4

The perception of plant protein as being inferior nutritionally is also fading as our understanding evolves of how the body uses these foods. For example, we know that the body must break down protein into its separate amino acids before being fully utilized. And although the ratio of these amino acids differs in plant proteins, our diet generally supplies the other portion of amino acids needed to create the complete protein sequence.

Hence, there has been an increase in elite athletes such as US Olympic Weightlifter Kendrick Farris and tennis prodigies Venus and Serena Williams touting the benefits of plant proteins and incorporating them into their nutrition regimes.

With all of that said however, animal-based proteins still dominate the market at this time according to global protein ingredient sales numbers:

  • Animal-protein = 61.2%
  • Plant Protein = 13.8%
  • Amino Acids = 25%

Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2015

Nonetheless, with the popularity of plant proteins on the rise, the dominance of animal-based proteins may not last. As the market evolves, we will be watching what it means for your company and consumers alike.

At Bioriginal we investigate the drivers of a trend before introducing a product to the market. Market intelligence is just part of the expertise behind what we do. We also offer the highest standards of testing and customer service and customized product development. That’s part of our business because we believe in being more than a supplier; we believe in being a partner to your success.

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