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    Packing on the Protein

    Recently introduced items offer the nutrient in abundance.

    By Kathleen Furore

    As today?s busy consumers seek ways to pump up the amount of protein they consume, food and beverage companies are introducing products and beefing up efforts to promote the power of protein.

    Northfield, Ill.-based General Mills, for example, expanded its protein presence this July with the introduction of Cheerios Protein in Oats & Honey and Cinnamon Almond flavors. Each serving has about 11 grams per serving with milk, or 7 grams of protein per serving without, according to company information. General Mills? push into protein goes beyond cereal, too: Its Yoplait Greek 100 and Fiber One Protein Bars were ranked among the top-selling 100 new food products of 2013, according to Information Resources Inc.?s (IRI) ?New Product Pacesetters? report.

    ?There?s no question that protein is a mega-trend in the food industry. Consumers are looking to spread out their protein intake throughout the day,? says Kevin Burkum, SVP of the Park Ridge. Ill.-based American Egg Board.

    Protein Spans Product Categories

    Eggs, of course, are an excellent protein source ? one that consumers can take advantage of any time of day. ?Eggs are a great choice, especially at breakfast, because they are a good source of high-quality protein and they contain no sugar or carbohydrates, unlike most cereals and yogurts,? says Burkum. ?Plus they are the least-expensive source of high-quality protein.?

    In fact, eggs are often used as the standard by which other proteins are measured, according to Adam King, marketing director of The Happy Egg Co., based in San Francisco and known for its ?Certified Happy? free-range eggs. ?At just 70 calories per egg, an average egg provides an impressive 13 percent of your daily protein requirement, along with a number of important nutrients,? King explains. Meat and chicken are other high-quality protein sources. Kent, Wash.-based Oberto, maker of all-natural jerky products, recently introduced Chicken Strips, an all-white-meat, whole-muscle product. ?Consumers are looking for different types of proteins, and are increasingly looking to get their protein from real, minimally processed foods with ingredients people can understand,? notes marketing director Michael Ginal. ?Oberto became the first company to market Chicken Strips because consumers told us they wanted a great-tasting chicken snack.?

    Rachel Cullen, president and CEO of Dinuba, Calif.-based Ruiz Food Products Inc., has also seen a growing interest in protein over the past few years. ?While the trend started initially with athletes and dieters, it has spread to become more mainstream,? observes Cullen. ?Consumers know that protein helps them feel full longer, so they are reaching for high-protein items, especially in the morning or for snacking occasions.?

    Ruiz Foods? line of Mexican food items includes several products that can boost the protein content of consumers? diets. They include El Monterey Classic Burritos, new El Monterey Signature Breakfast Burritos and El Monterey Taquitos, the last of which make great after-school snacks.

    Last but not least is a product many consumers have in their kitchens right now, yet don?t realize how much protein it provides. Milk is a naturally nutrient-rich beverage, with 8 grams of high-quality protein in every 8 ounces, according to Victor Zaborsky, marketing director of the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), in Washington, D.C.

    ?While everyone wants more protein, many don?t realize that milk, in addition to providing calcium and vitamin D, is also a good source of high-quality protein,? says Zaborsky. ?These insights led to the development of MilkPEP?s latest campaign, ?Milk Life,? which reinforces milk?s many nutrition benefits, including high-quality protein. Our consumer research tells us that when consumers learn milk has high-quality protein, they?re even more likely to grab a glass.?

    ?Consumers are increasingly looking to get their protein from real, minimally processed foods with ingredients people can understand.?
    ?Michael Ginal, Oberto

    By Kathleen Furore
    • About Kathleen Furore

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