The ready-to-drink protein-enriched beverage category could offer potential growth for drinks companies going forward, according to a recent report.

The 2009 report on Global RTD Protein Beverages, released today (20 March) and published by drinks market consultancy Zenith International, claims that the appeal of ready-to-drink protein-enriched beverages has now expanded to water, juice and milk based variants plus an increasing number of smoothies.

As well as examining why protein is important to human health, the report also looks at how supplementary protein can be beneficial.

While the advantages of supplementary protein have been accepted for some time in the bodybuilding community, the report says that recent studies have indicated that a protein rich diet can work for a number of different groups.

The main challenges facing drinks companies include public scepticism of the science and claims, alongside strong competition in an "ever more congested" functional drinks market.