Are protein enhanced products worth the premium price? UK consumer watchdog says no

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22 Oct 2018 --- British consumers are often paying double or triple price for protein enhanced products, despite the protein content of such products often being only marginally higher, the same or even less than in standard products, according to a study by consumer watchdog Behind the Label. The study, from Wren Kitchens, analyzed a variety of protein-enhanced products to reveal how much protein consumers are getting for the premium price tags.

The protein trend has shown no signs of stagnating over the past years, with strong NPD across a range of categories from senior nutrition, to sports nutrition and snacks. Big players have upped the protein content of their products, such as Nestlé's flagship adult nutrition drink, Boost. However, the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that the average UK adult consumes up to 55 percent more protein than they need.

The Behind the Label study compared products that were marketed as “protein” products and compared them with their non-enhanced counterparts.

  • KP’s Fruit and Nut Protein Mix has 20g of protein per 100g and costs £2.25, while Sainsbury's Unsalted Mixed Nuts and Raisins has just 2g less of protein per 100g, and costs 63p.
  • The Collective Pro-Yo Berries High Protein Yogurt Pouch has 11.1g of protein per 100g and costs £1.08, while Arla Skyr Icelandic Style Yogurt – Pear, Apple and Cinnamon has 10g of protein and costs 50p.
  • New York Bakery Co Bagel Wholemeal has 9.8g of protein per bagel and costs 24p, while Warburtons Seeded Protein Thin Bagels has 8.5g per bagel and costs 35p.

Click to EnlargeAccording to the survey, products that come with a protein tag have only slightly more protein per 100g or item, and in the case of the bagels, the non-protein enhanced bagel had even more protein for a lower price.

The study further points out that according to the UK Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) it is recommended we consume 0.75g of protein for each kg of weight, which, based on average weights roughly equals 55g for men and 45g for women.

“Most of us get more than enough protein in our everyday diet, and so it's not something that we need to think about supplementing too often. However, for some, such as athletes, those training intensely, or very active individuals they may have extra requirements for protein to support muscle growth and repair,” says Charlotte Stirling-Redd, Nutritionist.

“To put it simply, unless advised by a medical professional, you don't need to be eating protein-specific products. If you find them to be a convenient way to top up your intake or to help you spread your protein intake across the day, there is no real problem with using them. However, it's important to remember you can get all the protein you need from everyday foods,” she adds.Click to Enlarge

Stirling-Reed notes that a single serving of protein is roughly the size of your palm and that most people should aim for two servings each day. Examples of a single serving protein size would be two eggs, two teaspoons of peanut butter, a small tin of tuna, one handful of nuts or three tablespoons of chickpeas.

Behind the Label has recently launched a study in the amount of sugar many British consumers may be consuming from foods they perceive to be healthy, such as cereals. The study found that 63 percent of consumers consider breakfast cereals a regular part of their diet. However, just over half were able to recognize cereal as a processed food, often with added sugars in the form of dextrose, molasses and glucose syrup. Read the full study here.

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