The Protein Powder Industry: Trends, Types, and Recipes

March 16, 2024
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As an increased number of people strive to live healthily, the popularity of protein powder products has grown. The market has increased significantly and more businesses are introducing recipes with protein powder to their menus. Traditional protein sources like meat, dairy products, and legumes are still the most common source of protein for many. However, the market share of protein powder and protein-rich products like bars and shakes is slowly but steadily increasing. In this guide, we’ll share more about the business opportunities in the protein powder industry, what other types of supplements businesses can sell, and how you can benefit from protein-rich products.

The Protein Powder Market

The website Statista states that the size of the worldwide protein powder market was 27 billion dollars in 2022. This makes it a fairly small market. However, it’s important to note that protein powder is just one category of the overall supplements market. Thus, if you’re interested in starting a business in the protein powder industry, you can easily expand it to vitamins or other supplements. Let’s examine some key features of the global protein powder industry.

Main Drivers of Growth

More people exercise in gyms and that’s one of the factors for the protein powder market’s rise. As protein-rich products help with muscle growth and regeneration, they are one of the most popular supplements for many.

Even though most people associate protein powder with shakes or protein bars, its application as an animal supplement is one of the drivers of growth for the industry. Protein powder can be mixed with other traditional sources of amino acids such as legumes and different types of grains. This will make the animal food nutritious and an eco-friendly alternative to meat-based animal food.

The eCommerce growth can be noticed in the protein powder industry as well. Although offline sales (from grocery stores and specialized health stores) are still over 50%, online sales are expected to overtake them in the near future. That’s because of the convenience of shopping online and various additional options available like subscriptions.

Protein powder is expected to become more popular as an ingredient in healthy food and beverages. It’s currently one of the high-demand products in the supplements niche market. However, the increased usage of protein powder for livestock and pet food, its applications in cooking, and the growing trend of vegan products and recipes will further increase the demand.

Trends in the Protein Powder Industry

  1. Plant-based protein options. Protein powder made of peas, soybeans, or hemp is on the rise. Even though whey protein is still the most common option, it’s not suitable for people who suffer from lactose intolerance. The increased demand for vegan alternatives is a trend in the protein powder industry as well.
  2. Alternative formats. Protein-rich snacks and ready-to-drink beverages combine the positive effects of protein powder with convenience.
  3. More than just protein. Protein powder can be combined with other supplements and ingredients. Vitamins and minerals are the most obvious examples. However, there are protein powder varieties with fiber, probiotics, or antioxidants.
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Starting a Protein Powder Business

Entrepreneurs and business owners can benefit from the growth of the protein powder industry by starting a business in the field. Let’s examine some ideas for an enterprise related to protein powder.

  1. Protein or smoothie bar. You can open a small business that offers refreshing beverages like protein shakes and smoothies. The most suitable location will be close to a park where people regularly jog. You can also invest in a mobile solution like a smoothie bar truck that can be at different locations during the day.
  2. Subscription boxes. People who take amino acid supplements would benefit from the convenience of subscription options. That’s why a business that sells protein powder and other supplements through the subscription model is likely to succeed. In addition to supplements, this business can purchase other products at wholesale prices. Examples include workout gear, protein pasta, workout clothing, and other. Make sure to find suppliers of these products and purchase them in bulk.
  3. Supplements store. Opening a store that sells supplements and other health-related products can be a profitable endeavor. This can be both a brick-and-mortar or an eCommerce store. You can also outsource the shipping and handling if you benefit from the dropshipping method. Although this results in lower profit margins, the dropshipping business model is perfect for small businesses that don’t have large financial resources. Check out our articles on starting an ecommerce business and how to start a dropshipping business.
  4. Line of protein powder and supplements. Some manufacturers of protein powders also offer white labeling services. This can be an easy way to start your own brand of protein bars, protein powder, or other supplements.

Wholesale Protein Powder

The majority of B2B sales in the protein powder industry are done by businesses that purchase these products and sell them at retail prices. However, some companies buy bulk protein powder to use in recipes or other products. For example, manufacturers from the food and beverage industry might buy large quantities of protein powder to use for ready-to-drink beverages or protein-rich snacks. Other businesses that purchase wholesale protein powder include smoothie bars, cafes, manufacturers of supplements, gyms, and food service establishments. Protein powders can be used to make nutritious breakfast or brunch options. Ghost kitchens that offer custom meal prep plans for health-conscious consumers also might buy large quantities of protein powder.

Protein Products

In addition to protein powder, snack options that are rich in amino acids have increased in popularity as well. They are both convenient and healthy. Furthermore, these protein-rich products also contain other important nutrients such as minerals, fiber, and vitamins. Let’s examine the most popular ones.

  1. Protein bars. They are the most common protein-rich snack product. These bars are convenient and can be consumed immediately after the workout. The amino acids in these bars will help with muscle regeneration and growth. Protein bars can be found not only in gyms but also in grocery stores, convenience stores, and a variety of other businesses.
  2. Protein shakes. Ready-to-drink beverages are also a popular alternative. Shakes and smoothies are the top choices. Most types of yogurt drinks are naturally rich in proteins and they can be used in shake or smoothie recipes. Protein-rich variations of energy drinks have also risen in popularity. 
  3. Protein cookies, ice cream, and other desserts. Baked products can be made with protein-rich types of flour like hemp or pea flour. In the case of ice cream, it’s usually made by combining plant-based milk, flavoring agents, and protein powder.

Organic Alternatives to Protein Powder and Snack Products

Protein bars and protein powder help people increase their protein intake. However, a lot of customers prefer organic alternatives instead of manufactured products. Let’s examine the most popular protein-rich foods.

  1. Meat and eggs. Understandably, meat is one of the most common sources of protein. In the US, beef and pork meat are the most common options. However, seafood is a much healthier alternative to red meat. Fish and shellfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Dairy products. Greek yogurt, milk, and other dairy products can be excellent sources of protein. The dairy farming industry is among the biggest in the US. Dairy products are also versatile and are used in many recipes for salads, main dishes, and desserts. An example of a protein-rich recipe is protein pasta with mushrooms and cream. 
  3. Pulses and legumes. Their low price makes them a popular protein source for many. It’s not a surprise that legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and peas are the most common protein food in India and other countries. These products are also very versatile. Some plant-based protein powder and milk varieties are made of legumes such as soybeans and peas.
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Types of Protein Powder

Protein is a crucial component of the human diet. However, it should be consumed in a sustainable manner in order to reduce the impact on nature. Businesses are introducing more dishes with legumes in restaurant menus. Sustainably manufactured protein powder is often an ingredient in recipes as well. Let’s examine the most common representatives of the protein powder industry.

  1. Whey protein. This fast-digesting protein is a great choice after a workout. Whey protein is derived from dairy products. Thus, it’s not suitable for people with lactose intolerance. The main benefit of whey protein is that it’s rich in the essential amino acid leucine. Whey protein is the most popular option in the protein powder industry. There are multiple varieties on the market like isolate and concentrate.
  2. Mixed protein. It combines plant-based and animal-based protein. Mixed proteins can provide all essential amino acids.
  3. Casein protein. Similar to whey protein, it’s also derived from dairy products. The main difference between the two is that casein protein digests much slower compared to its whey counterpart. This makes it a suitable option for consumption before bed.
  4. Egg protein. Eating eggs can be a great source of protein. That’s why egg white protein powder is among the common varieties.
  5. Plant-based protein powders. The increased consumption of vegan products has led to various innovations in the protein powder industry. Nowadays, there are multiple plant-based options available. Soy, rice, and hemp protein powders are among the popular varieties. Plant-based protein powders have a major disadvantage compared to their whey or casein counterparts - they don’t contain all essential amino acids. Nevertheless, they can still help recover quicker after a workout or increase muscle mass over time.

Protein Powder Benefits and Risks

There are both advantages and disadvantages related to the consumption of protein powder. That’s why people who wish to include it in their diet should consult with a professional. Let’s dive deeper into the topic.

Pros of Protein Powder Consumption

  1. Additional nutritional value. Protein powder is rich not only in amino acids but also in other important nutrients like zinc and iron. Some varieties also have added vitamins and minerals.
  2. Faster recovery and muscle growth. Building muscle mass can be achieved faster thanks to high-quality amino acid supplements. The products from the protein powder industry also help with post-workout recovery. 
  3. A wide variety of products. The abundance of options on the market makes it easier to find protein powder that will fit your needs. Manufacturers in the protein powder industry also aim to answer the market demand for new formulas. That’s why there are new products that combine amino acids with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and probiotics.
  4. Improved weight management. People who wish to lose weight can include protein powder in their diet. It helps reduce cravings and enhances the metabolism.

Cons of Protein Powder Consumption

  1. Potential health risks. Having a diet that is high in protein is not always recommended. That’s because excess consumption of protein-rich foods can cause hyperfiltration and kidney problems. That’s why the consumption of protein powder should be done after consultation with a specialist. People with existing kidney conditions should be extremely cautious with protein-rich foods or amino acid supplements.

In addition to potential kidney problems, consumption of protein powder can lead to allergic reactions.

  1. Multiple additives. Natural protein powder is not very pleasant in taste. That’s why most manufacturers from the protein powder industry add sugar, flavoring agents, and other additives. However, these additives, especially sugars, can have a poor effect on weight management.

Protein Powder Recipes and Protein Powder Drinks

From breakfast options to desserts and even salad dressings, protein powder can be used for a wide range of recipes. Let’s examine some of them.

  1. Protein smoothie. A popular and healthy recipe for a protein smoothie includes mixing protein powder with microgreens, kale, and spinach. If you’re looking for a more energizing option, replace the greens with berries. 
  2. Pancakes. You can make delicious pancakes with the help of chocolate protein powder and other typical ingredients for pancakes.
  3. Protein mug cake or muffins. People with a sweet tooth can make exceptional desserts with protein powder. Muffins, brownies, and mug cakes are just a few examples.
  4. Overnight oats. Combining yogurt with nuts, seeds, grains, and protein powder can result in an energizing breakfast.
  5. Protein shake. These beverages are one of the most popular ways to mix amino acid supplements. In fact, the protein powder industry offers a wide range of ready-to-drink shakes. One of the most popular recipes for a protein shake combines bananas, berry fruits, protein powder, and milk. There are multiple varieties that depend mostly on your taste and preferences. For example, you can change the regular milk with a plant-based option like almond milk. Alternatively, the fruits used can be citrusy in order to make the drink more rich in vitamins. Vegetable protein shakes are also a popular option.
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In Conclusion

Whether you want to start a company and benefit from the growth of the protein powder industry or wish to incorporate this ingredient into your current business endeavor, we hope this guide will be of help. If you’re looking for a reliable solution for wholesalers, make sure to schedule your free demo with BlueCart.

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