Monday, November 3, 2008

Here Comes Protein...

I must admit that before the Atkins fad I never paid attention to the protein content of my foods. But since I dabbled in the Atkins diet (with some success) and gained a better understanding of the nutritional benefits of protein, I have been stunned at the low levels of protein and the high levels of carbohydrate in everyday consumer foods.

Protein does great things for the eater/drinker besides the obvious (fuel for muscles and recovery): Protein provides satiety (ie fills you up), can increase your own immunity and reduces the craving for other food. All this is well known within the Sports Nutrition community, and any trip to a GNC/Vitamin Shoppes store confirms this.

But protein is a tough to create products from. It is expensive (just go to a GNC and look at the prices of protein powder), has a terrible off taste, has no RDI (because protein use is sex and body size dependent) and can grow all kinds of bacteria if your product is improperly made.

It is interesting that there is no brand that is known for Protein. No brand has taken the ingredient into the mass market with a product that meets a mainstream need, with a great taste.

Two years ago Accelerade made an initial play into RTD sports drinks without success.

EAS and Muscle Milk are starting to make plays for the mainstream with TV advertising and mainstream plastic packaging respectively. But these products are self-limiting because they continue to directly sell to a sports nutrition crowd - not the mass market.

Bookoo Burner
and Whey Up have attempted to build a crossover into energy, but are still reliant on a sports nutrition positioning - and have a compromised taste.

Kronik Protein Energy (just launched in 7 Eleven's) has a more mainstream position - using the idea that Energy + Protein = Power.

(OK - Full disclosure here - I worked on this project... and the good new is that the product has been received with multiple positive reviews (there are more in google), and the initial reception on the shelf has been positive.)

Elsewhere Kellogg's appears to be in the process of converting Special K into the protein brand with Protein Cereal, Protein Water and Protein Snack bars. Special K is older and more female - and more diet oriented.

So what does all this mean? I believe that protein is moving into a mainstream place. It will take well formulated products, effective consumer positioning and communication, but it could be that protein is about to take its rightful place as an ingredient of true efficacy in consumer goods.

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Foods, Fluids and Beyond Blog by Neil Kimberley at www.foodsfluidsand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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