With more than 1.6 billion overweight adults in the world, weight management represents one of the largest and most dynamic growth opportunities in the global health and wellness market. Solae, a world leader in soy ingredients, recently implemented a weight management consumer research study across 11 countries to better understand consumers' behaviors, motivations and practices in managing weight and their usage of foods providing weight management benefits. The study also looked at product attributes important to consumers in selecting foods to support their weight management goals, and specifically, consumer understanding and awareness of protein in weight management.
"Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to manage their weight through convenient foods and beverages," said Michele Fite, vice president of global marketing and strategy—Solae. "As Solae continues to invest in future ingredient innovation, this research helps us identify and better understand opportunities for protein-enhanced foods targeting weight management. Our data indicates that today's consumer understands the important role protein plays in helping manage hunger. As a high-quality plant-based protein, soy protein can help food manufacturers develop great-tasting, satisfying food products targeting this growing segment."
Solae's weight management consumer research study was implemented in select countries in North America, South America, Europe, and South Africa, collecting insights from a total of more than 5300 weight managers. Some of the key findings from the study include the following:
Weight managers are most interested in satiety-enhanced versions of "everyday" foods that they already consume regularly. While results varied slightly by country, soup, yogurt and breakfast cereal consistently ranked high as categories where added satiety benefits would be of interest to weight managers.
As expected, taste was the #1 important product attribute in 10 out of 11 countries when choosing foods for weight management. However, a food's ability to sustain energy levels and control hunger were other attributes consumers rated quite high in importance.
Across all countries, 78% or more of weight managers rated protein's ability to sustain energy levels, and control hunger as very or somewhat important to them. More than 73% of weight managers in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States indicated high agreement with the notion that consuming high-protein foods can help delay hunger.
While weight managers place high importance on the role of protein in their diet, they do not perceive that any one protein source stands out when it comes to delivering weight management benefits uniquely. However, across all countries there was agreement (71-93%) that "consuming a balance of animal and plant proteins is a healthy approach."
These results reinforce what scientific research data shows in terms of protein's ability to positively impact satiety and energy, thus aiding in weight management. Soy protein, a high quality protein source, helps consumers feel full longer, delivering a satiating effect similar to that of other proteins. As part of an energy restricted diet, soy protein can aid in weight loss and weight management. Soy protein also offers a unique advantage as a high quality protein source that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, by reducing the total and LDL-cholesterol levels when part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This addresses a risk factor common to many overweight and obese individuals.
"Our study results point to an opportunity for food manufacturers to focus more on protein content and less on protein sources when developing weight management products, giving them flexibility to formulate with blends of protein that deliver the optimal economics, flavor and nutrition for their products," said Fite. "We believe this will be a growing trend in the industry in the future."
Solae is willing to share detailed results of their consumer weight management study. For food or beverage manufacturers interested in learning more, contact Solae at 1-800-325-7108.
Solae, LLC is the world leader in developing innovative soy-based technologies and ingredients for food, meat and nutritional products. Solae provides solutions that deliver a unique combination of functional, nutritional and economical benefits to our customers. Solae's soy ingredients are enjoyed by consumers around the world in products such as baked goods, beverages, nutrition bars, meats, vegetarian meals and much more. Solae is a recipient of Ethisphere's 100 "World's Most Ethical Companies" in 2010. For more information, visit www.Solae.com.