“Today’s sports nutrition market is hugely diverse,” said Troels Nørgaard Laursen, director for health and performance at Arla Foods Ingredients. “While shakes are popular across the board, every consumer group has its own preferences—from the hardcore enthusiasts looking for premium ingredients and functionality to ‘healthy lifestyle’ consumers who prioritize taste and naturality.”
The nutrition company, a subsidiary of Danish-Swedish multinational dairy product cooperative Arla Foods, launched its three clear whey powder concepts into the U.S. market as part of its new “Go Clear” campaign at last week’s SupplySide West ingredients trade show in Las Vegas, NV.
Going clear and broadening the market
The campaign introduced Arla Foods Ingredients' clear whey as a convenient protein source chockful of the essential and branched-chain amino acids used to boost muscle mass but without the astringency and mouth coating that has challenged the category to date.
Akin to flavored water, the isolate beverages are presented in sample cucumber mint, melon punch and tangy lemonade flavors that are contrasted with the chalky milkiness of the traditional strawberry, vanilla and chocolate protein shakes.
Peter Schouw Andersen, director of application, customer care & marketing at Arla Foods Ingredients, noted the year-over-year growth of the company's clear whey in the European market, as well as the promising buzz around the concept launch in Las Vegas.
“While I believe the milkshake products will continue to dominate, the clear protein space has gone from one to two percent of the protein shake market to 20% in the last two years in Europe,” he said. “We see the interest here [among the R&D teams] and believe that growth will come to the U.S.”
He attributes the success not only to next-gen ability to lower the astringency to an absolute minimum but said that clear whey has opened up a larger market in which the fat-free, sugar-free and lactose-free products appeal equally to men and women.
“We learned there was a huge untapped market for whey protein isolates with clear proteins, expanding beyond medical beverages and targeting the female audience in particular without the fat and the sugar,” he explained. “If you look at the data on who is consuming high-protein products today, 90% are men, but if you go out and perform customer surveys, the female audience would actually like to consume more protein but just doesn’t have the products to do so.”
For every activity level
Arla Foods Ingredients cites 2023 Euromonitor data and the 2022 HealthFocus International Trend Study, showing that protein powders comprise 46% of the entire sports nutrition market and that over 20% of both ‘active nutrition’ and ‘lifestyle nutrition’ consumers (who do not prioritize exercise as highly as ‘performance nutrition’ consumers) still consume powdered drinks at least once a week.
The range of clear whey ingredients is designed to target these different segments with a “Go Premium” formula for performance nutrition made with Arla Foods Ingredients' Lacprodan BLG-100 pure beta-lactoglobulin to boost post-workout muscle protein synthesis; a “Go Natural” powder with 100% whey protein isolate Lacprodan ISO.WaterShake to support healthy lifestyles; and the “Go Fresh” 100% whey protein isolate Lacprodan ClearShake for lifestyle nutrition consumers “who want the benefits of whey without the workout”.
Other concepts on show included a protein cold brew and a tea latte, both formulated with Lacprodan MicelPure, a non-GMO micellar casein isolate containing 86% native protein and naturally high in calcium.