Dairy created the protein growth trend around 25 years ago, which accelerated from 2010. The benefits of dairy as a protein source include:

  • In the mind of the consumer, it is a logical and natural source of protein.

  • You can deliver protein in a variety of convenient and tasty ways.

  • Creamy textures and endless taste possibilities provide “permission to indulge”.

  • Dairy protein is versatile – it can be added to a wide range of products, including bars and beverages.

Marketers must now add “high quality protein”, which is dairy’s biggest – and so far untapped – competitive advantage.

30-year-old product, used mostly for animal feed, has been upcycled into one of the most valuable and sought-after human food ingredients. The steady growth of scientific evidence for protein’s benefits has led consumers to associate protein with weight wellness, a healthy body shape, and increasingly with other advantages. Due to its natural, positive and easy-to-understand image, dairy protein is expected to continue growing in demand. It is already evident that consumers value protein in dairy products as health foods as well as in ice-creams and indulgent yoghurts.

Currently, consumers are more concerned with quantity than quality. Since protein quality has not been part of dairy companies’ marketing, that’s not surprising.

Dairy is an excellent source of protein. In contrast, most plant proteins are incomplete. Many contain the full range of amino acids, but they lack the depth of dairy. Your body has difficulty absorbing plant proteins because they are insoluble. Because dairy proteins are soluble, a smaller amount of protein can deliver more health benefits. If you knew you could get more benefit from 5g of dairy protein, why would you consume a product with 10g of pea protein? A dairy protein is also a natural source of nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, CLA, and zinc, which aren’t found in most plant proteins.

Until now, marketers have avoided communicating protein quality, but that’s changing. Among the pioneers is the US yoghurt giant Chobani. Its Complete yogurts are marketed to consumers who are active in nutrition and fitness. This influential consumer group has been reached through Complete’s quality protein message. People who are involved in sports and fitness are early adopters of new benefits that will help them perform at their best. As soon as this group adopts an idea, it spreads to the wider population. Today’s dairy protein market was created this way. As part of Complete’s communications, amino acids and the meaning of complete protein are explained in order to emphasize dairy protein’s “advanced nutrition” value.

One of the most important trends of this decade will be protein quality. However, there are many other growth trends as well.

1. Carbs – Better, Fewer, Greener:

Companies in carbohydrate categories have a lot to gain from their ability to reinvent products and stay relevant to consumers’ changing needs, whether through incorporating more vegetables, more protein, or more healthy grains. As a result of the economic challenges of the next 3-5 years, more people will turn to comfort foods like pasta, bread, and other familiar, affordable foods.

2. Digestive Wellness Diversifies:

Around a third of consumers experience digestive discomfort at any given time, and seeking digestive wellness is a strong consumer motivation, particularly among the over-40s, seniors, and women. Today, people have at least nine routes to wellness, including probiotics and fermentation, high fibre, gluten-free, and lactose-free.

3. Convenient Plants:

Consumers continue to want to incorporate plants into their diet as much as possible, and are looking for brands that make this easy.

4. Animal Protein Powers On:

The desire for more plants in their diet doesn’t mean consumers are giving up meat or dairy. Taking advantage of animal protein’s natural advantages is one of the best ways to ensure continued growth in the long run.

5. Sweetness Reinvented:

Brands are getting creative in addressing consumers’ sugar concerns while also fulfilling their desire for sweetness. The message of reduced sugar is still powerful, but consumers are also looking for moments of pure indulgence, where they accept high sugar products.

6. The Plant Protein Paradox: 

Despite plant proteins high consumer interest, there are taste, technical, and nutritional challenges. As a result, plant-based meat substitute growth has stalled. There has also been a slowdown in the production of plant-based cheese. For science-based companies, the opportunity is to improve nutrition and taste.

7. Rethinking Fat:

Consumers are becoming more aware of the differences between fats. The presence of high fat is not necessarily a bad thing, but consumers want to know if the fat source is natural and healthy.

8. Mood and Mind: 

Food and emotional wellbeing are fascinating topics for consumers, but making such claims can be challenging for brands. Consumers instinctively know that chocolate is a mood booster, so they don’t even need to make a claim about it.

9. Real Food and The UPF Challenge: 

There is a growing demand for “real food”along with concerns about Ultra-Processed Foods (UPFs). It is important for consumers to find products with short ingredient lists that contain ingredients they are familiar with. With the emergence of the Mediterranean diet, southern Europe is leading this trend.

10. Authenticity and provenance:

Consumers want to know where their food comes from as well as what it contains.For many, this means they want local products, but even for products that cannot be sourced locally, they still want information about their origin.

Dairy protein is a high-quality protein source that provides numerous health benefits. It contains all the essential amino acids that are necessary for growth and repair of the body’s tissues. It can also help to increase muscle mass, aid in weight management, and improve bone health. Overall, incorporating dairy protein into a balanced diet can provide numerous health benefits and support overall health and wellness.