“Look at South America and you can see that even though people lost their power of consumption [with the recent economic crises] more manufacturers are boosting protein,” said Cido Silveira, Marketing Manager for Arla Food Ingredients.
The company has survey data from several Latin American countries that show that consumers want natural, convenience, and indulgence, especially in Brazil (Sao Paulo). Similar trends are seen worldwide, with over 2,000 yogurts with convenience and protein claims launched in 2017 alone.
“With Arla’s solution you can have the same texture from the beginning to the end of shelf-life,” said Silveira.
According to internal tests, 7.5% protein drinking yoghurt made with Nutrilac YO-5088 had significantly more desirable viscosity than a similar product made with a standard milk protein concentrate.
The company also launched a solution for long-life yogurt-style drinks with a six-month shelf-life. Nutrilac YO-4575 is a low-pH, heat-stable protein ingredient for creating “fresh-tasting, healthy long-life yoghurts for children’s snacking occasions and lunchboxes”, said the company.
“Latin America has big countries and there are real problems with transportation. Nutrilax YO-4575 allows for stable products that are syneresis-free. There is nothing commercial in the market currently but this is coming through.”
Beyond dairy, alternative protein is on the rise, “and we’re seeing more and more plant based solutions”, said Silveira. One of the first plant-based products in Brazil was Unilever’s soy-based AdeS product, which was later sold to Coca-Cola FEMSA and the Coca-Cola Company.
Protein is also a big player in the sports nutrition category, with Brazil having the most mature market in the region, said Silveira.
Earlier this year, Arla released results of a survey of 4,000 consumers in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, which indicated that 80% of respondents believed they understood what protein is and how the body uses it.
The data also indicated that some respondents were willing to pay more for protein-rich products: 39% were willing to pay up to 5% more, 17% said they would pay up to 10% more, and 5% admitted they would pay over 10% more.
“Trends come to Brazil quicker,” said Silveira. “The market is dominated by the traditional big protein tubs, but you see more and more snacking options like bars.
However, Silveira added that domestic sports nutrition brands need to build trust with consumers. “If you look at Argentina, for example, many of the brans claim they’re from the US. These brands need to invest in more education and sponsoring of athletes.”