KANSAS CITY — Earlier this year a study published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography investigated the structure of milk protein crystals found inside baby Pacific beetle cockroaches and found it may serve as a potential protein supplement for humans. While the highly caloric “milk” — containing three times the energy of dairy milk and all essential amino acids — may not be ready now, or ever, for prime time commercialization, the use of new and non-animal protein sources in beverages, bars and snacks is beginning to make inroads with mainstream consumers.
A variety of issues from sustainability to clean label are expanding consumer notions of desirable protein sources. Chicago-based market research firm Mintel reports that preferences for less processed food sources and vegan-friendly proteins are decreasing demand for established protein alternatives. “The leading sources of protein used in snack bars, soy and whey, are deterring health-conscious consumers seeking cleaner, simpler foods,” said Jodie Minotto, senior global food trends analyst for Mintel.