AMCO Proteins: Protein product trends in sports and active nutrition

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

AMCO Proteins is a dairy protein manufacturer for the food, beverage and nutritional markets. Pic: ©Getty Images/rachaphak
AMCO Proteins is a dairy protein manufacturer for the food, beverage and nutritional markets. Pic: ©Getty Images/rachaphak

Related tags Protein Sports nutrition Dairy

According to a Euromonitor report on trends and developments in sports nutrition, the sports nutrition segment is valued at $11.9bn, with the largest chunk of that market in North America; roughly 70% of the market.

The top three fastest growing product segments, as determined by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) are sports protein products (9.0%), probiotic supplements (8.6%) and supplemental nutrition drinks (7.8%).

Currently the base customer is expanding in this segment moving from elite athletes to millennials (21-34) and baby boomers (50-64). The latter two segments are learning and adopting behaviors from the elite athletes as the benefits of exercise and body movement become more mainstream.

amco proteins logo

They want to emulate how they’re eating and snacking, and this translates into the foods AMCO Proteins’ product developers and marketing teams bring ingredients to market.

AMCO Proteins​ is a dairy protein manufacturer for the food, beverage and nutritional markets, and spoke to DairyReporter about the trends.

Staple categories

When it comes to consumer food trends that fit this market segments there are a two staple categories, AMCO Proteins said: high protein shakes and high protein bars.

Both product categories continue to grow, and are also simultaneously experiencing makeovers. Shakes are being formulated with more protein, less sugar and other functional ingredients added such as dietary fibers and better-for-you fats (i.e. medium-chain triglycerides).

There’s also the incorporation of plant-based proteins, but developmentally they still offer some challenges (such as overcoming flavor and texture objections). Companies have overhauled and redeveloped flagship products to include more protein, less sugar, added fiber and much more.

Furthermore, bar companies are now offering uniquely-developed protein bars that are crispy and wafer-like, offering the end-user a ‘Kit-Kat-like’ eating experience.

AMCO Proteins said it helps fuel this development by ensuring and testing that specific functionalities are met.

“For example, in order to attain the wafer-like texture of these bars we need proteins have excellent fat binding properties, which we can manipulate during processing,” ​the company said.


There’s also been a sharp rise in products that feature milk protein concentrate (MPC) and isolates (MPI).

MPC/MPI is a concentrated (at least 80% protein) or an isolated (at least 90% protein) form of milk protein via ultrafiltration. During this process, excess fluid, fats and carbs are either evaporated and/or filtered out, leaving unadulterated milk protein. The benefit of this process is that the MPC/MPI created in either liquid or via spray drying retains the same ratio of casein to whey as one would find in traditional fluid milk: 80% casein and 20% whey.

From a biological perspective this is ideal for many reasons:

  • Milk as a stand-alone protein is nutritionally complete, high quality and very bioavailable
  • MPC/MPI are naturally low in lactose due to the ultrafiltration, making it easier on the stomach for those with sensitivities to dairy or dairy sugars
  • Casein is a slow-to-digest protein and provides a sustained delivery of amino acids to the body
  • Whey is a quick-to-digest protein that is quickly, easily and readily absorbed by the body 
  • Proteins, especially dairy proteins, aid in the biological feeling of satiety, or fullness
  • MPC and MPI tend to be cold-processed which means more native proteins (as opposed to denatured)

More trends

When looking at other trends in the sports nutrition space, AMCO Proteins said it sees sweet and savory innovations like brownies, cookies, cakes, crisps and even flatbread chips. Some big brands have invested in expanding their product offering to include not only flagship protein bars, but also cookies, chips and cake bites.

Other companies have launched lines of baked goods fortified with dairy proteins offering items like cookies.

AMCO Proteins has been helping serve the food industry with these trends by launching two functional ingredients: BakePLUS and SnackPLUS. BakePLUS is designed to replace a portion of wheat flour in baking formulations, and SnackPLUS is a protein designed to be applied topically to snacks, with the potential to add 6g or more protein per serving. 

A really new innovation is offering foods in bite-sized options.

Popular protein bar brands have launched an entire line dedicated to “protein bites.” These bites are fortified with milk protein concentrate, which lends itself to shelf-stable protein bites. This unique innovation may seem trivial, but its stroke of genius lies in that it allows the user to control how much they eat and when, AMCO Proteins said.

The consumer is not forced to eat a whole package, such as a bar or bag of chips, but rather, can have what they want when they want. It may be a simple innovation, but it’s causing waves in the industry. AMCO Proteins offers products such as CMP-GP, a milk protein concentrate, which has been featured in novel high protein cake bites and frozen low-fat ice cream products.

When analyzing the sports nutrition market there is a disproportional amount of products based on whey protein, mainly due to the well-documented ability to aid in muscle synthesis and repair post heavy-load work (and also due to its relative ease in product formulation).

There are also supplements built on casein that are designed as “overnight protein delivery systems,” but they’re hard to find and are typically manipulated caseins such as calcium or sodium caseinate, AMCO Proteins said.

Developers that choose to formulate with MPC and MPI are giving their end-users not only the benefit of the whey protein component, but also the staying power and long-term delivery of amino acids from the casein (as opposed to caseinates, heavily used as “casein supplements”).

MPC & MPI are literally a dream protein for sports nutrition products that are biologically complete and easy to work into formulations – and AMCO Proteins said it expects to see a rise in use in 2019 and beyond.

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