Whether consumers are dieting or pursuing a bulking regimen, getting enough protein from food alone can be tough. It’s no surprise, then, that the market for protein supplements is going strong.

As of 2021, the global protein supplements market was valued at over $20 billion, and it has been projected to grow over 9% by 2028 to over $32.5 billion. While protein powders and bars remain popular, a market this large can certainly bear variety and innovation. 

What’s new in the category of high-protein snacks, and how can professionals in the food and beverage industry cash in and keep consumers happy?


Balls vs. Bars

The beauty of protein balls is that they offer a quick, easy, bite-size snack, and they are frequently made from whole ingredients. Some brands like Lärabar strive for minimal processing, but many other protein bars are highly processed.

In contrast, no-bake balls typically feature some combination of natural nut butters, binders like oats or flax seeds, and flavorful extras like chocolate chips, honey, nuts, or dried fruit. They often include protein powder for an extra boost, but consumers will also get a solid serving of healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients.


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Quick Breakfast Items

The busy modern lifestyle leaves plenty of consumers heading for the fast food drive-through in the morning, but more Americans are seeking health-conscious options. The protein market is on it with low-carb, low-sugar, and high-protein breakfast foods, from frozen waffles and cereal bars to toaster pastries, doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls.

Prepackaged for convenience and designed to taste like the original versions consumers love, these products are gaining popularity. Although many of them are highly processed, they feature a lot more nutrients and fewer undesirable ingredients like sugar and corn syrup than the products they aim to replace.

For example, Kellogg’s Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts are 370 calories (for a packet of two pastries) and have the following nutritional values:

  • Fat: 9 grams

  • Sugar: 30 grams

  • Total Carbs: 70 grams

  • Protein: 3 grams

  • Dietary Fiber: 1 gram


By comparison, the strawberry-flavored Tasty Pastry from Legendary Foods is 360 calories for two pastries and has the following:

  • Fat: 16 grams

  • Sugar: less than 1 gram

  • Total Carbs: 68 grams

  • Protein: 40 grams

  • Dietary Fiber: 16 grams

For many consumers looking to improve their diets without necessarily giving up the foods they love, high-protein snacks offer an appealing alternative.


Related: Asian and Latin American Snacking


Baked Goods

Much like on-the-go breakfast substitutes, healthier baked goods are in high demand in the high-protein market. Luckily, there’s no shortage of tasty treats to explore, from cookies to brownies to cake bites to crispy rice treats.

As a food manufacturer, you can make a splash in this niche by consulting with nutritionists and developing recipes that are flavorful, nutritious, and designed to hit multiple segments of the alternative diet market, like gluten-free, dairy-free, and especially, vegan.


Healthier Meat Snacks

For a hefty dose of protein, it’s hard to deny the appeal of jerky and other meat snacks, but the high fat, sugar, and sodium content can keep some consumers away. 

Healthier options hitting the market include sugar-free and low-sodium products, as well as organic, grass-fed, and free-range meats. Plant-based alternatives like soy protein and mushroom jerky are also gaining ground with the meat-free movement.

As a manufacturer, you have many options for gaining entry into the growing market for protein supplements and high-protein products. But to compete, your products need to be healthy, flavorful, and convenient.

You should also pay attention to the underserved alternative diet market (vegan, GF, allergy-friendly, etc.), as many of these diets overlap with the high-protein market. With balls, bites, baked goods, breakfast items, and more popping up, you have plenty of opportunities beyond powdered shakes and bars to explore.


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here! 

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