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Protein beverages are moving into the global mainstream as their consumer base shifts from body-builders to a general health-and-wellness audience, a new report has said.

Protein beverages cross over multiple consumption occasions, Zeniths report said

Protein beverages cross over multiple consumption occasions, Zenith's report said

Consumers are "embracing" protein for its health properties and no longer view it as niche, according to Zenith International's Ready-to-Drink Protein Innovation report, released this month. Meanwhile, the number of low-sugar and low-fat protein drinks are rapidly increasing as the positioning becomes a key selling point.

"High-protein products are no longer associated with just generating muscle mass," said Zenith Market Intelligence director Esther Renfrew. "The nutrient is now being marketed as essential to maintaining more general good health. Ready-to-drink protein optimally facilitates this trend, offering a convenient and easy means of increasing protein intake, in a way which complements consumers' busy lifestyles, particularly those of Millennials."

Zenith said the protein drinks segment is "surging ahead in sales", expanding at a faster rate than other ready-to-consume protein products, partly because of its versatility.

RTD protein can be positioned for "multiple consumption occasions", including as a breakfast drink, meal replacement, on-the-go snack, or post-workout recovery drink, the company said.

The report also said innovation in the segment is "rife", with new products including iced coffees, juices, white milk, waters and nut-based milk.

One of the innovations highlighted is The Coca-Cola Co's Fairlife milk, which contains more protein and less sugar than regular milk and commands double the price point.

"Manufacturers are also innovating with ingredients which bolster the functional benefits offered by a product," the report added. "Vitamins and minerals, probiotics and natural caffeine are among the key functional ingredients added."

Meanwhile, plant-based protein is an emerging trend as consumers look for dairy alternatives, with pea protein a leading contender for future growth, according to the report.

Danish dairy group Arla Foods, which markets a number of protein products, has recently increased focus on its beverage range. Last month it announced a plan to encroach further into the traditional soft drinks retail space with an expansion into convenience stores, petrol and train stations, gyms and workplaces.


Sectors: Soft drinks, Water

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