Protein power

Protein power

Protein powder is being added to foods from bread to ice-cream – brands worldwide are bulking up with a host of protein-enhanced products in an effort to create a new lucrative niche.

Taking cues from the world of bodybuilder supplements, manufacturers are packing extra protein into products. In January, Mintel noted that interest appears highest among American consumers, who believe protein aids in weight management (in part because it helps you feel full) and builds muscle after a workout.

“Everyone, it seems, has a protein bar company these days,” observes Crain’s Chicago Business. (Recent entries include the Paleo Diet-compliant RxBar, Journey bars and quinoa-based Mark Bars.)

Taco Bell is testing a Power Protein menu, featuring lower-calorie meals that double down on chicken or steak portions. There’s even a Protein Bar restaurant chain, which operates in Chicago, Colorado and Washington, DC. And the fact that chickpeas are packed with protein may be one reason that “Hummus is conquering America,” as The Wall Street Journal reported.

In the UK, the London Evening Standard says more men are buying protein shakes in a bid to build muscle. Marks & Spencer sells a protein-enhanced Fuller Longer line; the small company Dr Zak’s sells a high-protein bread and pasta; and Wheyhey “protein ice cream” is pumped with enough protein to equal a chicken breast (pictured above).

While skeptics argue that some of these foods are overly processed and that few citizens of developed countries suffer from a protein deficit, both brands and consumers show no sign of losing interest in the category. Case in point: the new Protein Water, from Danish dairy conglomerate Arla Foods Ingredients, which satisfies 25 percent of the daily recommended amount of protein with each 500ml bottle.