The platform is aiming to “establish a European whey protein voice” on social media, in line with EWPA’s aim to convey a deeper understanding of whey and related topics for European customers and consumers. Amid a diversifying protein market, the association is particularly outspoken in its mission to steer the conversation surrounding increasingly popular plant-proteins.
Responding to FoodIngredientsFirst’s requests for comment on the impact of trending plant proteins on the dairy ingredients market, a spokesperson of EWPA argues, “Plant protein is already very socially active and leveraging emotional messaging outside of nutrition alone. In a world of ‘alternative facts’ and pseudoscience, the whey industry needs to help consumers understand facts and science.”
Initially powered by Arla Foods Ingredients from May to December 2019, the B2C online communication platform is now officially taken over by the EWPA. On this platform, articles, recipes, tips and videos are available for inspiration to make whey protein a part of the daily diet.
The association notes that while the health attributes of whey protein may be common knowledge to doctors, nutrition scientists and athletes trying to improve their performance, they are not as well-known among the general public.
“Wheyforliving aims to establish a knowledge-sharing voice in the debate on social media for whey protein. It is also intended to face certain aggressive and misleading messages from alternative proteins and to react to the proliferation of consumers’ questions and doubts,” the spokesperson explains.
“With our European Whey Protein Consumer Tracker, we confirmed that protein is an important part of Europeans’ diet and dairy is one the most familiar protein sources. Being a complete protein, unlike plant-protein, it has a biological constitution that matches that of your muscles, it is easy and quick to absorb and contains all the essential amino acids in the right proportions for your body.”
Even while considering whey protein’s sizeable market share, the move toward plant-based diets continues to gather pace. Interest in how athletes can thrive without consuming animal-derived foods is part of this. Mycoprotein, the fungi-derived and protein-rich food source that is unique to Quorn products, for instance, is seeing renewed interest for its potential in the sports nutrition field.
An indication of how the protein space may be starting to more broadly embrace ingredients that are not necessarily animal-derived is apparent in market analysis. While whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate were found in 22 and 20 percent, respectively, of global food and beverage launches with a sports and recovery claim in 2018, the other top ingredients were leucine (23 percent), soy lecithin (23 percent) and isoleucine (22 percent), according to Innova Market Insights.
Arguing for the mainstay status of dairy proteins, the EWPA representative cites the organization’s 2017 European Whey Protein Consumer Tracker survey, which highlights that actual “free-from” diets, such as vegan and dairy-free, remain a “clear minority.”
“However, the protein market is in its growing phase and attracts more players with differentiated products, leading many alternatives to enter the market and consumers to start evaluating each product,” notes the EWPA spokesperson.
“Is it therefore important to remind consumers about the facts and science for them to understand what is whey, where it comes from, why it is essential, how and when to consume it. For instance, according to official documentation on Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIASS), milk and whey proteins are among the most nutritious proteins in the market. This may be a well-known fact in the industry, but not among consumers.”