The Power Of Protein

The Power Of Protein

Multi-million dollar opportunity for brands to ride the wave of global health trend

Health and wellness aspirations are increasingly influencing shopper grocery decisions . To better understand this shopper, Nielsen and The George Institute are working together  to enable Australian brands to better understand the impact of nutritional information on grocery packs, such as sugar, protein, fat, calories and recommended serving size.

Pro-protein Produce

Protein –  a compound that builds and repairs muscle tissue – is driving a health food craze sweeping the globe. With demand and interest increasing, the opportunity for manufacturers to boast their products’ protein content and drive growth is large.

Some manufacturers are at the front of this trend and are leading  incremental growth across categories thanks to product innovation. However, there are many that aren’t taking advantage of consumers’ interest in protein foods, resulting in millions of dollars in lost opportunity.

The effect this protein trend has had on sales is clear. In the United States, sales of products with protein claims are growing. Protein produce with “high protein” on its packaging saw a 157% increase year on year. Similarly in Australia, there has been a sales boost of 22.3% of items described as containing protein against 2% of total grocery growth, with the fastest growth in dairy and chilled meals.

Stake your protein claims to win

With demand for high protein foods growing, packaging is playing a vital role in informing consumers and driving sales. A few categories are seeing protein-rich products growing way ahead of the total category, particularly biscuits and nutritious snacks.

When packaging includes specific protein claims, there is significantly more growth. For example, in the past year, nutritious snacks (like muesli bars) that have protein claims on pack saw 5.8% growth while products that qualify for protein claims but do not use it on pack grew just 3.2%. Similarly, yoghurts with protein claims grew 4.9% while products with high protein but no claims declined by -6.2%. Cereal, tofu and chilled vegetarian meals also saw similar trends. These figures reflect consumer sentiment: a 2018 Nielsen panel survey found that muesli bars, yoghurt and breakfast cereal are perceived as healthier when containing high protein.

Some new products that are addressing consumers protein desires have significantly changed category dynamics, including YoPro, Tofurky mock meats, Mayvers Protein Peanut Butter, and Halo Top ice cream. Consumers are loving these products, and this is reflected in incremental category growth of between 16-54%.

Not just gym junkie millennials

Protein-savvy shoppers are from  a range of demographics, not just health-obsessed millennials. Nielsen data shows people who claim that protein is a “must have” or “good to have” in their grocery purchases, are more likely to be families with children aged 6 -18 or senior couples, the main shopper is 34-55 years old, they’re from cosmopolitan centres and of below average or high affluence.

And their behaviours are as varied as their demographics. We have observed that different demographics consume protein for different reasons and on different occasions and search for it across different categories:

Manufacturer Opportunity To Pack A Protein Punch

Data shows that there is a huge opportunity for many manufacturers whose products qualify to claim their protein content on their packaging, but don’t. With the missed opportunity calculated based on assumption that not claiming items could be growing at the same rate as claiming, lost opportunity varies from $2.2M in nutritious snacks to more than $50M in yoghurt.

As Australian shoppers continue to seek out various products to satisfy their growing health and wellness interests, protein will continue to be a key purchase driver in grocery. Manufacturers need to meet their consumers needs and wants with beneficial and relevant product information on packs, and give themselves a winning edge with product innovation that can further drive sales.

Through Nielsen’s collaboration with The George Institute, for the first time manufacturers have the ability to link actual shopper behaviour with detailed food composition, whether it’s nutrients like sugar or other ingredients, to better uncover opportunities for growth. To find out more on this collaboration, and how Nielsen can help your organisation find growth, please contact us!