Consumer Research on Protein Consumption

Originally Published: February 23, 2021
Last Updated: April 15, 2021

February 23, 2021 — Taste is the number one purchase driver of nutrition and performance products with 52% of 1,200 U.S. respondents citing it in recent study. In a press release, Comax Flavors provides new primary consumer research on protein consumption including usage, and attitudes towards Nutrition and Performance products. Such products include Protein Powder, Ready-To-Drink Protein Drinks, Protein Bars, Protein Chips/Tortillas/Puffs/Popcorn, Protein Cookies/Wafers, Protein Brownies, and Protein Cake Bites.

The nutrition and performance study was fielded in April 2020 with 1,200 U.S. respondents aged 18-70+; half were female and the other half were male. This is Comax’s nineteenth study of the company’s primary market research program.

Comax noted that ResearchAndMarkets anticipates the global Protein Supplements market to reach $32.6 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 8.0%. “The nutrition and performance market continues to grow. Activity in new protein sources such as plant-based proteins is fueling growth. We wanted to see how the market is changing and better understand consumers’ habits and usage among the general population,” states Catherine Armstrong, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Comax Flavors. For more information on the study and additional research results, see information at the bottom of this web page.

Nutrition and Performance Product Findings:
• “Taste” is the number one driver of nutrition and performance product purchases among all generations with more than half (52%) of respondents citing it as the most important attribute
• More than a third (36%) of respondents cite “Flavor” as an important attribute driving nutrition and performance products purchase intent
• Respondents look for “Plant Protein” as an “active ingredient” in their nutrition and performance products – Protein Powder (32%), RTD (22%), and Protein Bars (25%)
• The top five Lifestyle Diets that respondents follow are “Keto” (12%), “Intermittent Fasting” (11%), “Gluten-Free” (10%),” Dairy-Free” (9%), and “Vegetarian” (9%)
• Only a few respondents follow “Vegan” (5%), “Paleo” (3%), and “Pescatarian” (3%) diets while more than half (52%) of all respondents do not follow any lifestyle diet

Protein Powder Findings – Among respondents who consume “Protein Powder” N=300:
• 45% of respondents use Protein Powder to “Build Muscle”
• Half of all respondents use Protein Powder in “Dairy/Non-Dairy Preparations”
• “Chocolate” (52%) and “Vanilla” (51%) flavors are popular top performers among half of all respondents
• 15% of respondents consume “Peanut Butter”; Gen Z (18%), Gen Y (18%), and Gen X (18%) are the heaviest users compared to Baby Boomers (7%) and the Silent Generation, who do not use at all

Further consumer research on protein consumption is as follows.

Protein RTD Findings – Among respondents who consume “RTD” N=300:
• “Healthy” (43%) is the most important reason respondents drink RTD Protein Drinks
• “Chocolate” (60%) and “Vanilla” (46%) are the leading flavors consumed by all respondents
• Shy of a quarter (23%) of respondents drink “Strawberry”
Protein Bar Findings – Among respondents who consume “Protein Bars” N=300:
• “Convenient” (42%) and “Healthy” (41%) are the top reasons respondents eat Protein Bars
• “Chocolate” and “Peanut Butter” Protein Bars are consumed by half of all respondents
• “Chocolate” (52%) is the most popular flavor among all generations
• “Peanut Butter” (50%) is the second most well-liked flavor among all generations
• 30% of respondents consume “Nut” flavors

Protein Chips/Tortillas/Puffs/Popcorn Findings – Among respondents who consume “Protein Chips/Tortillas/Puffs/Popcorn” N=100:
• 47% of respondents consume Protein Chips/Tortillas/Puffs/Popcorn because they perceive them as “Healthy”
• “Cheese” is the most prevalent flavor among all generations, with 51% of respondents citing it
• “Salt” (38%) is a well-liked flavor among all respondents with more than a third citing it
• More than one-third of respondents snack on “Garlic” (35%), “BBQ” (34%), and “Savory Herb” (34%) flavors

Protein Cookies/Wafers Findings – Among respondents who consume “Protein Cookies/Wafers” N=67:
• “Healthy” is the main reason respondents cited eating Protein Cookies/Wafers (36%)
• “Chocolate Chip” (46%) is the number one flavor of Protein Cookies/Wafers
• Gen X equally prefers “Chocolate” (50%) and “Peanut Butter” (50%) as their first choice compared to “Chocolate Chip” (40%)
• “Chocolate” and “Peanut Butter” are tied for the second most favored flavors with 40% of respondents citing each of them
• “Snickerdoodle” and “Vanilla” are equally enjoyed by 30% of respondents

Protein Brownies Findings – Among respondents who consume “Protein Brownies” N=67:
• 30% of respondents cite “Healthy,” “Increase Energy,” and “Decrease Appetite” as the top three reasons they consume Protein Brownies
• Shy of two-thirds of respondents consume “Chocolate” (60%)
• “Chocolate Peanut Butter” (43%) is the second most well-liked Brownie flavor
• One-third or more of respondents consume “Chocolate with White Chocolate Chips” (33%) and “Cookies and Cream” (37%)

Protein Cake Bites Findings – Among respondents who consume “Protein Cake Bites N=66:
• “Healthy” (45%) is the number one reason respondents consume Protein Cake Bites
• 39% of respondents eat “Chocolate” and “Cookies and Cream” Cake Bites, which are tied as the top two flavors
• Gen Y are the heaviest consumers of both flavors compared to the Silent Generation who do not consume Protein Cake Bites at all
• More than one-third (35%) of respondents consume “Chocolate Cookie Dough”
Generations defined: Gen Z born 1996 and later; Gen Y born 1977 to 1995; Gen X born 1965 to 1976; Baby Boomers born 1946 to 1964; Silent Generation born 1925 to 1945

Comax has partnered with Amy Marks-McGee of Trendincite LLC to manage the market research program and Costello Creative Group to translate the data into creative, fun, and easy-to-read infographics. Additional Comax studies include alcohol, alternative dairy products, bread, coffee, condiments and dressings, confections, crackers, flavored water, ice cream, juice, sweet baked products, tea, and yogurt.

The above are just a few of the study highlights. To request a copy of the complete Nutrition In-Two-Ition infographic from this study regarding consumer research on protein consumption, contact

Photo courtesy Comax Flavors

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