fitness supplements

“It won’t be long until headlines scream that a foodstuff isn’t healthy just because it’s packed with protein” I wrote, just 13 months ago.

And, lo, it has come to pass. Kind of. The British Dietetic Association has today warned ads for protein supplements are misleading young adults. Some of the marketing aimed at fitness devotees is “wrong and immoral”, the organisation claims, and is leading “thousands” to use powders, shakes and capsules as a “substitute [for food] not a supplement”.

In anyone’s book, that’s cause for concern. But it’s one supplements brands could easily help allay with, say, clear(er) on-pack messaging along the lines of NHS advice, including warnings that “consuming too much protein can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and can also worsen existing kidney problems”.

And, arguably, the sudden scrutiny of supplements could prove an opportunity for food and drink brands. Not only does it show the protein trend is not going away, but it might encourage young gym buffs to turn away from powders and back to their fridges.

As that same NHS advice points out, “protein is an important part of our diet” and sporty types wanting to load up would be better off “introducing high-protein foods to their diet”. Which means the sector – buoyed by ever-increasing shopper demand for healthier products – remains a bonanza of opportunity for brands and suppliers.

In just the past couple of weeks, for instance, we’ve had Premier’s pledge to put more emphasis on healthier products such as protein bars; Eatlean Protein Cheese’s addition of another format; and – most notably – The Collective making its first venture into the high protein segment.

When I suggested in May 2016 that food & drink was approaching peak protein, I could not have been more wrong. The grocery industry is crying out for genuine innovation, so why not in an area that not only sates consumer desire but also offers more natural alternatives to powders and pills?