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Continued: Food makers are pushing protein

  • Article by: MIKE HUGHLETT , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 29, 2014 - 9:20 PM

The portability of snack bars, like Greek yogurt, has been important to their success. “There has certainly been an interest in protein that is more convenient,” said Jenny Peterson, General Mills’ consumer insights director. “We hear that continually from consumers.”

Part of the allure of protein for snacking is its satiety effect. “Protein is a great tool to help you feel full and keep you satisfied longer from meal to meal,” said Katherine Zeratsky, a dietitian at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. That’s partly because protein takes longer to digest.

Protein’s fullness factor is transforming breakfast for many Americans, said Melissa Abbott, director of culinary insights at the Hartman Group, a food market researcher. Consumers increasingly believe protein at breakfast helps tide them over better until lunch, she said.

“When I’m interviewing consumers, I hear, ‘I used to have cereal or a bagel for breakfast, but now If I don’t have protein, my day starts off entirely on the wrong foot.’ ” That may help explain why the breakfast cereal business has been rather stagnant the past few years.

Dinner is normally prime time for protein. So with more protein at breakfast and snack time, consumers are piling it on.

Too much protein?

The recommended daily amount of protein for adult women and men is respectively 46 grams and 56 grams. For a man, a cup of milk, a cup of dried beans, an 8-ounce serving of yogurt and a 3-ounce piece of meat will meet that 56-gram daily threshold.

But many people get 100 grams of protein a day, said St. Catherine’s Sheats. “We eat a lot of meat, and our meat proportions are a half a plate when they should be a deck of cards.”

All that extra protein doesn’t really help much. In fact, in really heavy doses, protein can be hard on the kidneys, Sheats said. “We don’t store protein. We use it and what we don’t need, we convert to fat.”

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

  • related content

  • General Mills Vice President of Marketing Joe Ens talked about the company's new protein loaded products, Friday, March 21, 2014. Protein is a big seller in packaged foods these days, with companies playing up protein content in marketing and adding more protein in to certain foods. ] (ELIZABETH FLORES/STAR TRIBUNE) ELIZABETH FLORES •

  • what is protein?

    Proteins are part of every cell, tissue and organ. Protein in foods we eat replaces proteins in our body. Adult males need 56 grams of protein daily; females, 46 grams

    Examples of protein content:

    One cup of milk: 8 grams

    Three-ounce piece of meat: 21 grams

    One cup dried beans: 16 grams

    Eight-ounce serving of yogurt: 11 grams

    Source: Centers for Disease Control

    Leading types of new products making a protein claim*:

    Dairy: 19 percent

    Snacks: 18 percent

    Processed meat and poultry: 15 percent

    All other: 48 percent

    * as a percent of all new products making a protein claim

    Source: Mintel

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