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Add protein - not allergens

As health and wellness trends surge, educated consumers are experimenting with foods in a variety of innovative ways including healthy meal kits, incorporating more plant-based foods and trying high protein, high fat, low carb diets.  Introducing new diets and new food ingredients brings concern for the growing number of consumers with allergies, diseases (i.e. celiac), sensitivities and intolerances.

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

Nine foods make up more than 90 percent of all food allergies, and include milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, wheat and soy, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While consumers are trying to incorporate more plant-based ingredients, they can expose themselves to many of these common food allergens. However, meat-based proteins contain no known allergens. They are a great choice for food manufacturers looking to strengthen their brands with a series of clean label ingredients with no allergenic impact on consumers’ health.

Avoiding foods that contain allergens

Athletes and others looking to increase muscle mass and reduce the amount of time it takes to recover from exercise often pay close attention to their protein intake. Protein helps repair and build up the muscles after workouts.  Many athletes turn to whey protein for building muscle. This type of protein is easy for the body to break down and absorb, but these proteins are not an option for those with dairy allergens. While egg ingredients are also a great protein source, they too are an allergen. Modern consumers pursuing a healthy lifestyle are often caught between increasing their protein intake while avoiding foods that contain allergens.

Proteins free from gluten and lactose

Gluten free remains a leading claim in various food categories. According to a US study published by JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016, more people are going gluten-free in recent years. Researchers analyzed surveys and blood tests from more than 22,000 individuals and based on this sample, the researchers estimated that 1.76 million Americans have celiac disease, while 2.7 million people without the disease choose to go gluten-free for other reasons.

Numbers show that many consumers of sport nutrition products are trying to manage a gluten free and lactose free diet.


Gluten free positioning in sports nutrition launches

Top 5 positionings as % of sports nutrition launches tracked, by region (H2 2017 - H2 2018). Note that gluten free is a leading claim in most regions.

Region Energy/ Alertness Gluten free High/ Source of protein Added protein No additives/ preservatives
North America 35% 34% 19% 24% 21%
Europe 31% 25% 27% 28% 17%
Asia 27% 21% 16% 34% 9%
Australia/New Zealand 45% 39% 24% 27% 19%
Latin America 28% 42% 13% 35% 8%
Middle East/North Africa 35% 8% 8% 18% 10%

Percentages may be greater than 100% due to multiple positionings per product.

Source: Innova Market Insights, 2019


Lactose free positiongs in sports nutrition launches

Number of sports nutrition product launches with gluten free and lactose free claims.

Source: Innova Market Insights, 2019


Beef and chicken-based hydrolyzed protein isolates and collagen peptides derived from bovine raw materials are obvious alternatives for producers that want to promote gluten-free protein bars and lactose free protein powder drinks. 

Meat is a nutrient-dense foodstuff with no known allergens and a great source of essential amino acids (lysine, tryptophan, methionine and phenylalanine). It contains vitamin D, vitamin B6, selenium, heme iron and some other vitamins and minerals that are significant for our health and wellbeing.

For more information about protein enrichment of sports nutrition and everyday foods, please get in touch with your local Essentia contact.