Trends Related to Protein Consumption 2016

Originally Published: January 4, 2016
Last Updated: March 2, 2021

Increased interest by consumers in trends related to protein consumption has increased in recent years. Protein, a macronutrient, can be found in all living things. How they are sources and processed into ingredients and consumer products and what foods are popular, in part, due to higher protein levels is of much interest. Global Food Forums has looked at trend lists from the last several years and has highlighted items related to protein trends.


Original Source: “The Next Kale? The Foods You’re Going To Be Hearing About Constantly In 2016 by Alexandra Duron The Thrillist (Posted January 4, 2016).

  • Poke —This Hawaiian dish is already pretty popular on the food scene, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, according to Baum + Whiteman, a food and restaurant consulting company. Who wouldn’t want chunks of tuna soaked in a soy & sesame oil marinade and served atop seaweed-seasoned rice?
  • Savory yogurt — …savory versions are starting to pop up all over the place. Blue Hill, for example, produces and packages yogurt flavors like beet and butternut squash, and at the Chobani store in New York City, you’ve got five savory “yogurt creations” to choose from.
  • Algae — Algae’s been lurking around in the background for the past couple of years, poised to hit full-blown superfood status.
  • Better sports drinks — For a long time, people have been worried about the calories, sugar, and artificial flavors lurking in sodas, but sports drinks curiously got a pass, in spite of the fact that they’re really not much better.

Original Source: The following protein-related topics are from the list “Whole Foods Market’s Top 10 Food Trends for 2016 (Posted December 21, 2015)

  • Uncommon meat and seafood—Lesser-known meat and seafood options are making their way from restaurant menus and local obscurity into mainstream American kitchens.
  • Plant-based everything—Plants are playing a meatier role in a surprising number of products, and not just for vegan and vegetarian alternatives.
  • Graze Craze: Grass-fed 2.0—With new grass-fed products– from milk, eggs, yogurt, butter and cheese options to packaged meat snacks and even protein powders – sprouting up across the store, grass-fed has proven it’s no longer a niche category for health fanatics or Paleo devotees.
  • Alternative and wheat-free flours—People are going nuts for gluten-free flours made from legumes, ancient grains, teff, amaranth and, well, nuts. Chickpea flour is a quick riser, while other legume-based flours are showing up in bean-based pastas and other packaged goods.

Original Source: “Popular Nutrition Trends for 2016 from the magazine Today’s Dietitian. Compiled by Densie Webb, PhD, RD, freelance writer, editor, and industry consultant. (Posted December 2015)

  • Sprouted Grains: Our forecasters predict that they’ll become more mainstream. Sprouting…creates enzymes that make plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches, and vitamins more available for absorption.
  • Full-Fat Dairy: “Now that people are starting to embrace more fat in their diets, I think we’ll continue to see more full-fat and reduced-fat (as opposed to fat-free) dairy products being used.” …A survey conducted by IRi…found that whole milk sales have gradually increased from 27.9% of the retail market in 2010 to 32.1% in 2015.
  • The Pluses of Pulses: The United Nations is so certain that pulses will peak in popularity that it has dubbed 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The aim of IYP 2016 is to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production, aimed towards food security and nutrition.
  • Relaxing Cholesterol Restrictions: …the 2015 DGAC, which reviews the latest research and makes recommendations for the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, has for the first time taken a step back from the 300 mg/day rule. Whether or not dietary cholesterol in excess of [330mg/day] affects risk of coronary artery disease or risk of diabetes is still unclear.
  • Renewed Push for Protein: Researcher Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD, FACSM, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, says we can expect more research on the benefits of increased intakes of high-quality protein in middle-aged men and women.

Original Source: McCormick Flavor Forecast 2016. (Posted December 2, 2015)

  • Alternative “pulse” proteins: Packed with protein and nutrients, pulses are elevated when paired with delicious ingredients. Pigeon peas, called toor dal when split, are traditionally paired with cumin and coconut. Cranberry beans, also called borlotti, are perfectly enhanced with sage and Albariño wine.

Original Source: The following area a few protein-related items from a Innova Market Top Ten Trends Insights for 2016 list. (Posted November 17, 2015 on Food Ingredients 1st website)Free From For All: Many consumers don’t actually need products that are free from gluten, wheat and dairy, but are demanding them anyway, as they believe them to be healthier. ♦ The “Flexitarian” Effect: The rise of part-time vegetarians, who have reduced their meat consumption because of health, sustainability and animal welfare concerns, is having a major impact on new product activity. ♦ Beyond the Athlete: The benefits of sports nutrition components such as protein and energy ingredients can be exploited by all demographic groups and manufacturers are therefore diversifying on the “healthy living” platform for everyone.

Original Source: Technomic’s Take: 2016 Food Trends (Technomic Press Release dated October 26, 2016)

  • Elevating peasant fare. Meatballs and sausages are proliferating—traditional, ethnic or nouveau, shaped from many types and combinations of meats. Likewise on the rise are multi-ethnic dumplings, from pierogis to bao buns. Even the staff of life gets the royal treatment, from haute toast to signature cheesy bread. ♦ Trash to treasure. Rising prices for proteins raise the profiles of under-utilized stewing cuts, organ meats and “trash” species of fish—but the “use it all” mindset has also moved beyond the center of the plate. How about a veggie burger made with carrot pulp from the juicer?

Original Source: The National Restaurant Association’s 2016 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. (National Restaurant Association, posted November 5, 2015, from ACF’s hottest menu trends. )Locally sourced meats and seafood ♦ New cuts of meat ♦ Sustainable seafood ♦ Artisan butchery♦ Fresh/house-made sausage

Original Source: Mintel Identifies Global Food and Drink Trends for 2016 (Posted by Mintel, October 19, 2016)

  • Alternatives Everywhere: The growing ranks of novel protein sources and potential replacements appeal to the everyday consumer, foreshadowing a profoundly changed marketplace in which what was formerly “alternative” could take over the mainstream.
  • For Every Body: The rising promotion of athletic programs that encourage consumers to get and stay active showcases a parallel need for food and drink that helps consumers get acquainted with sports nutrition.


Original Source: The following protein-related items are from the list Innova Market Insights’ Top 10 Food and Beverage Trends likely to impact the food industry in 2015 and beyond

  • More in Store for Protein: Ingredient suppliers, food producers and consumers are on the lookout for the next protein source. Soy protein is regarded as cheap and mainstream and therefore being less applied among NPLs tracked. Whey protein has been popular for some years and is still growing, while pulse protein is rapidly emerging. More algae protein applications are expected in the future. Further along insect protein may become big in various categories.
  • A Fresh Look at Frozen: In order to compete with the healthy appeal of fresh aisles and the convenience of canned foods, established frozen foods (vegetables and seafood) are focusing on freshness in their marketing, stressing the superior nutritional content in frozen food. Brand extensions include larger varieties in vegetables and fruits. At the same time the frozen segment is witnessing new product launch activity in new categories (e.g., soups, fruit, drinks, finger foods, sauces, pastries, herbs).

Original Source: 2015 Food Trends (from Technomic, Inc.)

  • DIY health. More consumers care about healthy eating—but what does that mean to them? Menus increasingly display pick-and-choose options for everyone from gluten-free eaters to vegans to paleo-diet partisans; offerings are switched out as nutrition fads and fashions come and go.

Original Source: 2015 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends (from the Sterling-Rice Group)

  • Cannabis Cuisine: Edible marijuana moves far beyond cliched pot brownies. In states where it’s legal, look for new, sophisticated options from gluten-free baked goods and confections to bottled cold-brewed coffee and flavored syrups.
  • Coconut Sugar Sweetness: Boasting a lower glycemic index than white sugar makes coconut sugar popular among consumers—from natural food fans to sweets-loving Paleos to Southeast Asian food lovers—looking for better-for-you foods.

Original Source: The following protein-related items are from the list Trend Forecast: 10 Predictions for Specialty Foods in 2015 (by the Specialty Food Association)

  • Embracing Alternative Proteins: Several new products made their debut this year (some as early as last year), all with the goal of providing sustainable protein sources.
  • Snack Bar Stampede: Snack-food and health bar companies are getting bolder with what they put into products, tempting shoppers with unusual ingredients and distinctive flavor profiles.

Original Source: What’s Hot? 2015 Culinary Forecast (from the National Restaurant Association) The NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find which foods, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2015. The following are a few protein-related items from a “top 20 food trends” list.

  • Locally sourced meats and seafood ♦ New cuts of meat ♦ Gluten-free cuisine ♦ Non-traditional fish ♦ Artisan cheeses

Original Source: The following two protein-related items are from the list “10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2015 (from New Nutrition Business)

  • Protein – powered by “naturally functional” ♦ Dairy 2.0 – making the most of dairy’s natural advantages

Original Source: Goodbye Cronuts, Hello Shaved Ice! Bidding Farewell to the Foods of 2014 and Welcoming the Foods of 2015 (from Vogue, with a New York orientation)

  • Goodbye Avocado Toast, Hello Eggs! In case you hadn’t noticed, eggs are no longer relegated to the breakfast section of the menu. Ordering soup? Ask for a fried egg on top. Opting for salad? Hard-boiled will do. There’s even a new Lower East Side café, Egg Shop, dedicated to the organic variety. Our motto in 2015: Put an egg on it.
  • Goodbye Ramen, Hello Bone Broth! Mineral-rich bone broth, the simplest meat-and-vegetable stock, is officially the soup craze du jour. People are so into boning up, in fact, that a new shop in the East Village, Brodo, now sells to-go cups so you can sip it like coffee.
  • Goodbye Tacos, Hello Fried Chicken! Tacos will never die, but fried chicken is riding two foodie waves—nouveau southern and Korean—right into our hearts. To the list of new restaurants specializing in fried chicken (Root & Bone, Birds & Bubbles) you will soon be able to add Seoul Chicken, which was opened in September by Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue alum Chaz Brown.
  • Goodbye Pork Belly, Hello Crawfish! You can thank Momofuku (and its pork buns) for the pork belly fad. But who is responsible for the budding crawfish craze? The critters are popping in everything from the mac and cheese at Heavy Woods to the dumplings at Mooncake Foods.

To view information on Global Food Forums’ Food Proteins website, including in-person conferences, webinars, technical articles and presentations for food formulators, product profiles and news items, visit