There’s an ancient proverb in the Swoly Bible that reads;
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“Proteins are like LEGOS. Protein is the building block of muscle; LEGOS are the building blocks of building blocks. Ipso facto, you can never have enough of either.” – The Brofessor
That one’s Confucius-level deep and — perhaps unintentionally — dead-on accurate. (The protein part, not the LEGO bit; anybody with a soul knows you can’t have too many LEGOS.)
The protein supplement industry is absolutely booming and is only picking up steam with each passing year. These 20+ market trends might just inspire you to brew up a shake right now!
Protein Supplement Industry Statistics
- On a global scale, the protein supplements market size topped $18.91 billion in 2021.
- Economists predict a steady upswing for the protein market, estimating an 8.4% compound annual growth rate between 2021 and 2028.
- North America dominated the protein market in 2020 with more than half of the market’s global revenue share.
- Animal-based protein supplements continue to lead the market with 66% of the revenue share in 2020.
- The leading animal-based protein supplements were whey and casein.
- The surge in veganism — up 300% from 2004 and 2019 — is sparking a rise in plant-based protein alternatives like soy and protein. This arm of the industry is on pace to set the fastest CAGR through 2028.
Why Animal-Based Protein Rules the Market
Of all protein supplements on the market, whey and casein are arguably the most popular, affordable, and readily available. So it’s no surprise that they rule ⅔ of the protein market!
The whey craze mostly fizzles down to leucine content, which can improve protein synthesis, lower the risk of protein breakdown, and improve hypertrophy (the findings of a 2016 study)
Most whey powders also infuse at least 20g of protein per scoop.
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Why Plant-Based Protein Is Creeping Up On Them
“Vegan,” “plant-based,” and “raw” are just the latest buzzwords sweeping through the fitness and supplement industries.
In fact, the number of Americans identifying as “vegan” climbed from 1% to more than 6% between 2014 and 2017 alone. So it’s completely understandable that supplements followed suit.
(The traditional protein powders — whey and casein — are both scraped from cow’s milk during the extraction process. So they’re not vegan.)
However, plant-based proteins aren’t just protein alternatives for the vegan community. These protein supplements are also soaring in popularity because:
- Pea protein is among the most allergy-friendly protein supplements on the market, free from common allergens like eggs, wheat, soy, nuts, and milk.
- Soy protein is considered a “complete protein,” featuring muscle-building BCAAs like leucine. A 12-week study from 2020 found that — with equal leucine content — both whey and soy protein supplements triggered near-equal strength and mass gains.
- Hemp protein is also a complete protein with an impressive 18–28% of your daily recommended fiber intake, which can keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- In general, a plant-based diet can lower your risk of developing cancer by 10–12% and encourage a healthier weight (most vegetarians weigh 3–12% less than meat-eaters).
Their protein content might be a little flimsy at <20g per serving. But if you can ramp up your protein elsewhere in your diet, the pros of plant-based powders might just outweigh the cons.
Protein Powder and Ready to Drink (RTD) Statistics
- The global plant-based protein powder segment is among the most promising in the industry, topping $5.153 billion in 2020.
- Protein powders led the industry in 2020 with over 63% of the global revenue share.
- Sports protein powders dominated the American sports nutrition industry in 2019, eclipsing a 70% market share.
- Ready-to-drink protein supplements are quickly outpacing other alternatives, expected to secure a record 8.8% CAGR.
Ready-Made: A Fad That’ll Likely Stick Around Forever
The USDA reports that, in 2014, the average Millennial dedicated just 21 minutes a day to cooking meals — just shy of half the time those 65 and older spent in the kitchen.
Whether it’s a low budget, lack of free time, or sheer convenience, ready-to-consume products are becoming the “go-to” for the younger generations.
In the limitless world of protein supplements, that leaves you with plenty of options:
- Powders are often free from the junk of typical protein bars, such as high fructose corn syrup or artificial fillers. They’re also more eco-friendly, the body can absorb the nutrients into the bloodstream a bit quicker, and they take seconds to prepare (dump, pour, shake).
- Bars tend to boost satiety — reduced hunger — more than powders and infuse a more balanced blend of other nutrients (like fiber and carbohydrates). The protein bar industry knows they’re also more convenient than toting around a 5-pound tub of protein, a bottle of water, and a shaker bottle. Just unwrap the bar to fuel your protein fix on your drive home from the gym!
- Drinks (like Muscle Milk) are the #1 alternative if you prefer drinking your protein without dealing with the chalky chunks, foul-smelling shaker bottles, or the blending process. Simply toss a bottle into your gym bag for immediate refueling post-workout.
Preparing a bean burrito or chicken fajita can take 30 minutes. But if there’s no time crunch or penny-pinching, most experts would recommend leaving protein supplements as a last resort.
You’ll probably get enough protein in your normal diet!
In fact, research published in 2019 suggests that those most likely to use protein supplements already eat large amounts of canned tuna, eggs, and chicken and exercise more.
Other Popular Sports Nutrition Products
While protein powders claim 63% of the industry’s revenue share, they’re far from the only supplements aspiring athletes and bodybuilders use to build aesthetic or functional physiques.
In fact, data compiled at the National Institutes of Health reveals that these are the most-used supplements amongst American college athletes:
- Protein (41.7%)
- Energy shots and drinks (28.6%)
- Creatine (14%)
- Amino acids (12.1%)
- Multivitamins featuring caffeine (5.7%)
- Testosterone boosters (1.6%)
- HMB (0.2%)
- DHEA (0.1%)
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These supplements (plus other supps like pre-workout) share a few things in common, like improving testosterone, building muscle, ensuring all-around health, cutting recovery times, and adding a touch of efficiency to workouts.
Of course, amongst their “NARP” classmates on college campuses, supplement use is less about athletic performance and more about:
- Extra nutrients (59%)
- Beauty benefits (36.7%)
- Weight loss (25.5%)
- Disease prevention (10.4%)
- Muscle growth (9.6%)
No matter which supplements you use or why always remember to read the label and research possible adverse reactions!
Australia Protein Powder Market Statistics
- Australia’s protein powder market exceeded $389 million Australian dollars in 2014.
- The whey protein market Down Under is blossoming too, predicted to surpass a 6.2% CAGR between 2020 and 2025.
- The Kiwis and Aussies prefer their protein supplements in powdered form (⅔).
- The most popular protein flavors in Australia were chocolate (31%) and vanilla, with fruitier options like strawberry and banana trailing closely behind.
More About Australia, Health, & Protein
So then, why is Australia’s protein powder market so tiny compared to other nations?
The answer could be that Australians already eat protein-rich diets, with the average Aussie consuming 89.6g of protein a day (8.6–43.6g more than the official recommendation).
Reports put their pre-workout usage at a slim <1% too. Yet, 79.9% of Australians and 79.4% of Kiwis admit to using protein supplements — the most popular nutritional aids within the region.
The explanation is likely that Australia has a total population of 25.8 million people. So while $389 million seems small from a U.S. perspective (we do tend to supersize everything), it’s not tiny!
UK Whey Protein Powder Market Statistics
- Experts forecast a $2.16 billion whey protein market in the United Kingdom by 2025.
- The UK segment of the whey protein powder market could clinch a 4.12% CAGR between 2020 and 2025.
- The UK dominates the European whey protein industry in share size.
More About Europe & Protein Powder
(We know that the UK isn’t the same as Europe. But these statistics become far more intriguing when we zoom out and look at Europe as a whole!)
Of the top ten healthiest countries in the world, six of them belong to Europe! So the fact that the UK’s whey protein market alone will climb above the $2-billion-mark isn’t surprising whatsoever.
Europe also leans more and more toward strength and muscle-building each year. In fact, seven of the top 20 European fitness trends for 2020 focused on just that:
- Personal training (#1)
- High-intensity interval training (#2)
- Bodyweight training (#3)
- Functional fitness training (#4)
- Small group personal training (#5)
- Circuit training (#10)
- Training with free weights (#17)
The more muscle tearing and the loftier your strength goals, the more likely you are to turn to protein supplements to fuel protein synthesis and muscle growth.
Add 64.8 million gym memberships and 63,644 fitness clubs into the equation, and Europe’s protein obsession makes tons of sense.
India Whey Protein Powder Market Statistics
- In India, the whey protein powder market soared above $1,064 million in 2019.
- The whey protein market in India boomed between 2014 and 2018, recording a startling 36.2% CAGR.
- By 2023, India’s whey protein market will likely topple $2,323.7 million.
India’s Whey Protein Industry: Boom or Bust?
With over 1.3 billion residents and about 17–18% of the world’s total population, India is the second-most populated nation on the planet (only trailing China by about 1%).
But its whey protein powder market is an odd blend of both boom and bust.
By 2023, the market size will nearly double its 2019 value — an impressive feat. Yet, once you factor in the nation’s population, the average person in India spends $2.31 on whey protein.
So, where’s the disconnect?
These statistics might offer some perspective:
Nineteen Percent of People in India Are Vegan
Whey protein is one of the two types of proteins collected from milk (the other is casein).
Since animal milk falls outside of the bounds of the traditional vegan diet, almost ⅕ of India’s population will turn to hemp, soy, or pea protein supplements instead.
That’s if they splurge on powders at all!
Just 37% Of People in India Exercise
The general attitude toward fitness in India is one of apathy.
Nearly half of survey respondents (46%) described health as a top priority, yet either lacked the motivation to exercise or simply couldn’t find the time.
Those who did exercise preferred brisk walking (67%), with just 10% choosing bodyweight exercises. Another 14% didn’t know enough about sports nutrition to consider using supplements.
One-third of Those Living in India Invest in Gym Memberships
In other words, there’s about one gym in India for every 54,167 people. So if lack of gym access is an issue, the demand for protein understandably dips too.
Fortunately, the tides appear to be turning with increasingly sparked interest in supplements.
How Much Is the Protein Supplement Market Worth?
The global protein supplement market eclipsed a record-high — $18.91 billion — in 2020, with the market expected to maintain this upward swing through 2028. Experts attribute this predicted 8.4% CAGR boom to fitness-obsessed Millennials and the ongoing push for a balanced diet.
What Percentage of Americans Drink Protein Shakes?
About 46% of Americans admit to drinking protein shakes regularly. That protein-fueled craze rolls into the typical American diet, with the average person consuming double the recommended protein. Vegans also land in the “too much” range with 60–80g* per day from legumes and beans.
What Is the Target Market for Protein?
The target market for protein is predominantly Millennials (born 1981–1996), with Gen X trailing closely behind and Baby Boomers bringing up the rear. Gen Y’s infatuation with protein stems from a desire for an “aesthetic” physique and concerns about future health issues like obesity.
What Percentage of Protein Powder is Protein?
Whey protein powder packs 29–90% protein into every scoop, with lower protein content freeing space for more lactose and fat. Protein concentrates often fall within the 60–80% range. Protein isolates undergo extra filtering to “purify” the powder, supplying 90–95% protein per scoop.
The State of the Protein Supplement Industry
With a goal of 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight, protein supplements become the most obvious and easiest choice. However, not all protein powders or bars are the same.
Some have killer flavors, like a slice of ice cream cake on a cheat day, yet only have 15g of protein per serving. Others taste and feel like literal dirt but offer 50g of protein in each scoop.
It’s all about finding balance!
Look for a protein powder with 80%+ protein, at least 20g of protein per scoop, as few ingredients as possible (especially fillers and junk), and consideration for your dietary needs.