December 2022

December 6, 2022

Are whey protein price increases to the consumer starting to slow?

Throughout 2022 we have been tracking the cost to the consumer for whey protein powder and plant protein powder for a group of high priority brands (mostly, online, DTC brands) on a monthly basis and a larger European dataset of c. 400 brands on a quarterly basis.

The data has been cruicial for two reasons/ Firstly, how much of the raw ingredient price increases have been passed on to the consumer, and at what rate? And at what point do we think prices have reached an elasticity threshold whereby there has been a negative impact of the volume sold.

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Figure 1 shows the increase in retail price to the consumer for WPC and WPI, split by the online brand vs the larger dataset (fixed at a 1kg pack size). As expected the cost to the consumer for both WPC and WPI has seen a sharp increase since Oct 2021.

  • The online brands demonstrate a faster and higher rate of increase vs the broader dataset (you can assume they are more omni channel brands)
  • The October data shows a stability in price from the previous quarter for WPC, whilst WPI continues to increase for the large dataset, but decreases for the online brands.

Whilst not shown in this article, we have clear data to show that the volume of whey protein sold has decreased significantly in the UK on Amazon. This is also supported by publicly communicated data from leading global brands.

So how do we interpret this? Simply, that the price shown for WPC and WPI in a 1kg pack size have breached a threshold whereby volume is affected. As a result, the prices shown represent ceiling thresholds which are unlikely to increase further.

Honey I shrunk the protein bar…

The protein bar market continues to be of huge interest, particularly as it represents a primary mechanism (format) for taking protein mainstream. But how far can it go, and what does the future of protein bars look like?

For us, protein bars are healthy confectionery - or basically a better for you chocolate bar. Innovation continues to focus on taste, flavour, texture, and layering (etc) - all with the purpose of meeting the consumer expectations for an indulgent treat.

To some extent, this is not hugely new. Albeit, there is a significant mindset shift when discussing “protein bars” vs “chocolate bars high in protein”, with the latter increasingly important if the true opportunity is to be achieved.

One important aspect of this trend that we have tracked on new protein bar launches over the last 12 months is that they are getting smaller in size and the amount of protein per bar is decreasing. No longer are the traditional stereotypes of protein bars (e.g. 20g of protein) strictly true.

The decrease in protein is principally driven by taste, in addition to the softness of the bar. It is likely reflective of a mainstream consumers perception of how much protein is needed, i.e. more like 10-15g than 20g. The reduction in bar size and protein per bar is further exaggerated in plant based protein bars.

Whilst indulgent protein bars are not new, we really believe that they are only starting to scratch the surface of healthy confectionery.

Our final hurrah for 2022

As Christmas approaches, it only means one thing - the final exhibition of the year. We're in Paris this week for Food Ingredients Europe. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to catch up, and if you want our view on the show, then keep your eyes peeled for our thoughts later in the month.

Products to stimulate the (innovation) brain

Bounce Back - The social recovery drink. Whilst many debate the best product and proposition for what to consume before bed (overnight muscle recovery, or to aid sleep), we can't help but feel that the proposition of BounceBackDrinks is a potentially interesting one. Yes it is targeted (population and occasion), but we suspect there is a genuine consumer demand for something like this. Whether this is the right brand or product, who knows, but we think the proposition will build.

My Vitamins - Protein gummies. Protein gummies aren’t new, but yet there really aren’t too many of them available. Firstly, we liked them, particularly as we in the office like some excitement in our daily snack choice. It also seems that the majority of those we asked, would like to try them too. In our recent poll on Linkedin, 71% either have or would like to try protein gummies.

Gldn Hour – The sophisticated (collagen) protein drink.  We have always described sparkling protein drinks as the 'sophisticated' choice. We acknowledge that this might not be the case for all consumers, but certainly when looking at the increased number of sparkling choices on the market, they definitely feel more mature in branding and for many, they are often shown being consumed in a glass with ice. It is subtle, but the scope of protein whether as a powder or RTD, has so much scope still to explore

Inno Glow - Multi collagen complex. With more and more collagen powders appearing on the market, there is greater focus on how to provide the consumer with a better and/or improved product. That is why Inno Glow from InnoSupps caught our eye with their recent product launch. Not only is it a combination of bovine, marine and chicken collagen, it also includes a collagen boosting compound and a collagen absorption enzyme.

Rheal Natural Energy Bar. While popular in the USA, caffeine bars, seen as an alternative to a coffee have yet to make their mark in Europe. However, the latest brand to try is Rheal’s with their natural energy bar.  With 68mg of guarana, equivalent to one coffee, will this be the product to finally win with this proposition in the UK and Europe?

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