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Articles from 2013 In February

Food safety sequestration impact months away

With no sequestration fix deal in sight ahead of the March 1 date to institute cuts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it is taking steps to minimize the impact of the furloughs on consumers, employees and the meat industry, however, "there is no question sequestration will have an adverse impact on food inspection services."

Earlier this month livestock groups and the American Meat Institute called on USDA to find ways to furlough non-front line FSIS staff to avoid the economic fallout that could occur if inspections couldn't occur. Earlier this week several Republican senators asked similar questions, stating that other USDA employees instead should be furloughed.

Courtney Rowe, USDA spokesperson, explained you just can't take funding from another pot of money. Approximately 80% of FSIS's budget is personnel, and 88% of personnel are inspectors, she said.

"We've done the math as many ways as we can and any scenario requires furloughs of inspectors." 

Rowe said that the timing of the furloughs remains unknown. All FSIS employees must be given at least 30 days written notice and for many employees these must be hand-delivered as they do not have access to official government email or computers. 

In addition, all FSIS bargaining unit employees are afforded the right to an oral conference with Agency administration prior to the furlough taking effect. Finally, FSIS is mandated to engage in negotiations with the Agency’s bargaining unit prior to the implementation of an anticipated furlough.

"Having over 8,000 frontline and 1000 non-frontline employees spread across the country covering and supporting about 6,263 establishments, and 150,000 in commerce facilities makes delivery of notices, coordination of oral conferences and other negotiations complex and time consuming," USDA said.

Senators recognize importance of biosecurity and agro-defense

U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R., Kan.), Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) introduced a resolution Feb. 28 to recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense to America's national and economic security.

"This resolution will remind my colleagues in Washington that addressing critical vulnerabilities to our food supply and agriculture economy remains a top priority," Roberts said. "As we consider measures to improve biosecurity and protect plant and animal health, I will work hard to ensure that our nation has the best resources to do the job. This includes continuing construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas and development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region. While the federal government must curtail spending, investments in vital projects such as NBAF, which protect the nation’s security and economy, must continue to exist."

“The terrorist attacks of 9/11 reminded all Americans that we are vulnerable to those who want to do us harm,” Moran said. “Threats to our nation’s food supply are among the arsenal that could not only hurt millions of Americans, but also lead to economic chaos. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is the modern, safe, world-class facility the United States needs to protect Americans against biological threats and the devastation they could cause. I remain committed to making certain the construction of NBAF – an essential part of our national security apparatus – moves forward.”

“We must recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense at a national level, and support continued investments in agriculture research and engineering so farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to stay competitive in the world market,” said Blunt. “The NBAF project remains one of my top priorities, and I will continue working to ensure the security of our nation’s food supply and agriculture economy.”

“I’m pleased to be a part of this resolution which recognizes the importance of biosecurity to our country’s safety, and to our agriculture economy across the United States,” McCaskill said. “Strengthening our biosecurity and animal health starts with the completion of the facility in Manhattan, Kansas and continues with the development of the Animal Health Corridor in the Kansas City region. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we accomplish these goals.”


AVMA updates euthanasia guidelines

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) published Feb. 27 the 2013 edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Led by a 13-member panel, more than 60 experts -- including veterinarians, animal scientists, behaviorists, physiologists, psychologists and an ethicist -- deliberated more than three years to create the 2013 guidelines.

Since the first Panel on Euthanasia was convened 50 years ago, the AVMA guidelines have helped veterinarians protect the welfare of animals by setting criteria for euthanasia and specifying appropriate methods and agents. As the guidelines have become increasingly influential (and in some cases recognized as a legal standard), their specificity and scope have increased, the announcement said.

Specifically, the 2013 guidelines acknowledge euthanasia as a process that involves more than just what happens to an animal at the time of its death. In addition to providing more information about techniques used for euthanasia across a broader range of species, AVMA said this edition includes attention to ethical decision-making, provides detailed information about animals' physiologic and behavioral responses to euthanasia, considers euthanasia's effects on those performing and observing it and takes into account the practicality and environmental impacts of various euthanasia approaches.

The new AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals does not address humane slaughter or depopulation, which will be covered in separate documents that are currently under development. More information is available at http://www.avma.org/.    

USDA awards food security research grants

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited South Dakota State University Feb. 26 to announce more than $75 million in grants for research, education and extension activities to ensure greater food security in the United States and around the world. The awards were made to teams at 21 U.S. universities to conduct research that will find solutions to increasing food availability and decreasing the number of food insecure individuals.

"Millions of American households lack the resources to access sufficient food, and many of those, including our children, may go hungry at least once this year," said Merrigan. "The grants announced today will help policymakers and others better recognize the food and nutrition needs of low-income communities in our country, while improving the productivity of our nation's agriculture to meet those needs. Globally, the population is expected to grow by more than 2 billion people by 2050. By investing in the science of America's renowned land-grant universities, our aim is to find sustainable solutions to help systems expand to meet the demands of growing populations."

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) made the awards through the 2012 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's (AFRI) Food Security program. The program supports research that will keep American agriculture competitive while helping to end world hunger, and focuses on achieving the long-term outcomes of increasing domestic and international food availability and food accessibility.

This year's funded projects include research at South Dakota State University to examine community efforts to encourage healthy food choices; research at Purdue University to develop new strategies to defend against ear rot diseases in corn. Scientists at the University of Tennessee will identify ways to improve milk quality in the Southeast and enhance the sustainability of the Southeast dairy industry. A team at the University of California in Berkeley will work with tribal groups in the Klamath Basin in Oregon and California to build sustainable regional food systems to aid in enhancing tribal health and food security.

Fiscal year 2012 awards include:

  • Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., $3,963,395
  • University of California, Berkeley, Calif., $3,997,212
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $3,750,000
  • University of California, Riverside, Calif., $416,130
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Del., $26,000
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $410,906
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $5,349,650
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa $5,358,680
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $2,998,931
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $20,195
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $5,500,000
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $2,925,456
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $2,989,032
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $2,913,199
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., $3,997,207
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., $2,997,040
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $3,730,635
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $1,166,650
  • State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y., $3,965,003
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., $3,971,568
  • Pennsylvania State University, University, Park, Pa., $420,000
  • South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., $3,964,611
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $3,000,000
  • Texas AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas, $2,977,638
  • Virginia State University, Petersburg, Va., $1,141,005
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $2,984,255
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., $33,400
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, Fla., $419,631


Ancient antibiotic-resistance proteins opens door to study

Scientists are reporting "laboratory resurrections" of several 2 billion to 3 billion year old proteins that are ancient ancestors of the enzymes that enable today's antibiotic-resistant bacteria to shrug off penicillins, cephalosporins and other modern drugs. The achievement, reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, opens the door to a scientific "replay" of the evolution of antibiotic resistance with an eye to finding new ways to cope with the problem, according to an announcement from the American Chemical Society.

Jose M. Sanchez-Ruiz, Eric A. Gaucher, Valeria A. Risso and colleagues explained that antibiotic resistance existed long before Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic in 1928. Genes that contain instructions for making the proteins responsible for antibiotic resistance have been found in 30,000-year-old permafrost sediment and other ancient sites. Their research focused on the so-called beta-lactamases, enzymes responsible for resistance to the family of antibiotics that includes penicillin, which scientists believe originated billions of years ago.

Sanchez-Ruiz et al. used laboratory and statistical techniques to reconstruct the sequences of beta-lactamase proteins dating to Precambrian times, 2 billion to 3 billion years ago. The team also synthesized the inferred ancestral enzymes and conducted studies on their stability, structure and function.

"The availability of laboratory resurrections of Precambrian beta-lactamases opens up new possibilities in the study of the emergence of antibiotic resistance," the journal article says. "For instance, it should now be possible to perform laboratory replays of the molecular tape of lactamase evolution and use such replays to probe the molecular determinants of the efficiency of lactamases to adapt to different types of antibiotics."

The researchers also noted that the extreme stability and catalytic features displayed by the ancient lactamases suggest that resurrected Precambrian proteins have utility for the biotechnology industry.

Novus, Verenium select enzyme candidates for animal nutrition

Novus, Verenium select enzyme candidates for animal nutrition

NOVUS International Inc. and Verenium Corp. recently announced significant steps forward in their collaboration aimed at commercializing a suite of next-generation enzymes for animal nutrition.

The two companies, which entered into a strategic partnership in 2011, recently selected lead enzyme candidates for developing the collaboration's suite of non-starch polysaccharide enzyme products designed to enhance the digestibility of feedstuffs in monogastric diets. Additionally, the two companies announced that their next-generation phytase remains on track, and the commercial launch of the product into selected geographies is targeted for 2013.

"Our collaboration with Novus and the development of a suite of next-generation enzyme products for animal nutrition are progressing very positively," Verenium president and chief executive officer James Levine said. "Through this important collaboration, we are able to further diversify our product portfolio and gain access to the broader animal health and nutrition market for enzymes."

Enzymes are used in the animal health and nutrition market to allow livestock, poultry, aquaculture and companion animals to more readily digest and absorb the nutrients in their feed.

According to industry reports, enzymes are experiencing remarkable growth in the sector due to their ability to provide better nutrition and to improve the environmental impact. Global sales of animal feed enzymes are estimated to have reached nearly $600 million in 2012 and are expected to grow 6-7% annually to reach more than $700 million by 2016.

Novus is based in St. Louis, Mo., and serves customers in nearly 100 countries.

Verenium, an industrial biotechnology company, is a global leader in developing high-performance enzymes.

Volume:85 Issue:06

Genus signs second JV in China

Genus PLC, a leading global animal genetics company, announced Feb. 25 that it has signed a second porcine joint venture (JV) agreement in China for a 1,000-sow nucleus farm with Yunnan Shennong Agricultural Group Co. Ltd., the leading integrated pork producer in the Yunnan province.

The JV further expands Genus' porcine business in China and is in line with its corporate strategy to focus on growing in key markets and segments such as the Chinese integrated pork producer segment, the announcement said.

China is a very large potential market for Genus with approximately 50% of the world's pigs produced and consumed in country. Following a JV agreement with BeSun in July 2012, Genus is currently implementing a growth strategy through JV partnerships with leading integrators and expanding its production base in China.

Genus said it will be a 65% partner in the Shennong JV through a cash investment of approximately £2.7 million. The venture will operate a state-of-the-art nucleus farm, scheduled for completion within the next 12 months.

Genus will provide pureline porcine stock from the Genus porcine genetic division's (PIC) global high-health pyramid to stock the farm. The JV farm will be managed by Genus.

The structure enables world class farm practices to be implemented and Genus' intellectual property to be protected. In addition, the JV structure will enable the introduction of a royalty revenue model which is already in operation across Genus' porcine businesses in other key geographies.

The JV will produce crossbred grandparent females. Shennong will use at least 40% of the output to support the expansion of its pig production program. The remaining animals will provide important additional volume to support the growing sales of PIC breeding animals in China.

Once in full operation, which is expected to be in 2014, the herd will underpin production of 2.5 million slaughter pigs per year, the company said.

Genus said it is continuing to pursue other JV opportunities in China to develop further its porcine business.

Genus advances animal breeding through biotechnology and sells added-value products for livestock farming and food producers. Its worldwide sales are made in 70 countries under the trademarks "ABS" (dairy and beef cattle) and "PIC" (swine) and comprise semen and breeding animals.

With headquarters in Basingstoke, U.K., Genus companies operate in 30 countries on six continents, with research laboratories located in Madison, Wis.

Operating for more than 50 years, PIC is a global leader in providing pig breeding stock and technical support for maximizing genetic potential to commercial pork producers.

Shennong Agricultural Group is a leading vertically integrated pig producer in China's Yunnan province, employing more than 2,000 people. Since beginning operations as a commercial feed producer in 1999, the privately held firm has established pig production farms and value-added slaughtering, meat processing and retailing businesses. n

Messenger's credibility sways trust (commentary)

Messenger's credibility sways trust (commentary)

RECENTLY, a study from Purdue University evaluating consumer perceptions of the welfare implications of swine production practices and sources of information people use to form those perspectives has garnered quite a bit of attention.

Among the key findings to date are that respondents were most concerned about housing pigs in crates or stalls and keeping them indoors. The top three areas of concern relative to the welfare of pigs at different stages or segments of production were processing, on-farm practices and transport.

A large majority (75%) did not think that they had seen stories about pig welfare in the media, and more than half could not identify a source of animal welfare information. Of those who did, most relied on The Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The latter finding has become a focal point of frustration and concern for many involved in livestock production. Some have suggested that the data show clear avenues for animal agriculture to exploit in regard to using social media and other sources to better reach consumers.

As one of the co-investigators on the study, it is important to note that the study is ongoing and that the data have not yet been published. Therefore, the results should be taken cautiously.

But, assuming that the data are correct, their interpretation thus far has been superficial. Collectively, they potentially provide some insight into the emerging consumer/producer dichotomy.

First, it is a glaring red flag that people who do not think they have seen media stories on pig welfare identified on-farm production and housing as major issues in regard to pig well-being.

Given all of the possible concerns a lay person might have about factors that potentially harm the well-being of an animal raised for meat, it is inconceivable that these would be the respondents' primary concerns in the absence of media stories and public discussions occurring in venues to which they are exposed.

What this suggests is that messages, articles, stories and discussions about the welfare of pigs and other animals have become so ubiquitous that consumers who responded could no longer identify a media point source from which they got their information.

Here is the issue that should raise concern for animal agriculture. Apparently, everyone but agriculture is reaching consumers -- and in ways that are so frequent, so non-invasive and so easily accessible that they do not perceive themselves as being targeted for education on pig welfare or related issues.

The idea that agriculture should respond with more obvious attempts to reach such consumers using the same methods and sources they are currently avoiding is, therefore, faulty.

As the respondents reported, they are not using scientific, government or animal industry sources for information on animal care and welfare, so trying to draw them in via "agvocacy" sites or agricultural social media is likely to be seen as more of the same and is probably not going to work.

The question of focus, therefore, should be less on why consumers persist in relying on animal activist groups for information on animal welfare and more on why they are not utilizing agricultural sources.

Is it that consumers do not know such sources exist or that they cannot easily access them, or could it be that they just do not like or trust them?

It would not be surprising if lack of trust were a major factor. Like it or not, animal agriculture operates from a credibility deficit when it comes to animal well-being, and having experts on the topic does not (fully) offset it.

Who is the average person likely to trust regarding who has animals' best interests at heart: those in the business of raising animals to kill them, or those perceived as being in the business of saving them?

Operating from the premise, then, that consumers just need more information and better or more engaging ways to get it is too simplistic of an explanation for what is currently happening.

As the old adage goes, it's not just what you know but who you know. In other words, who is providing the information on animal welfare and what that person or entity is perceived as representing may be even more important than what they are conveying and how they are doing so.

*Dr. Candace Croney is an associate professor of animal behavior and well-being in the department of animal sciences at Purdue University. In her next article, Croney will look at the role of cultural cognition on science transmission, discussing the failure to communicate science and its implications for animal agriculture, along with other factors affecting consumer trust and behavior.

Volume:85 Issue:08

Doing right thing can help restore trust (commentary)

Doing right thing can help restore trust (commentary)

FINDING horse meat in hamburger in the U.K.: That's a major scandal that needs resolution sooner rather than later.

Each day seems to bring some new development. The more investigators dig in, the more widespread the mess becomes.

Thankfully, this does NOT appear to be a major food safety issue; no one has been placed in danger.

Nonetheless, from a cost perspective, the outcome is the same. Direct costs associated with product testing, recalls and replacement, legal fees and general loss of sales are mounting rapidly. Meanwhile, the indirect costs also are significant, including costs of government investigations, interruptions to business continuity and loss of brand equity.

That brings us around to the long-term fallout -- namely, implications for consumer perception. From the consumers' perspective, this all seems chaotic, with no reasonable explanation; it's hard to make sense of how it's even possible for horse meat to end up in ground beef.

Consumers feel like they've been duped, the default presumption being that fraud and deception have been occurring for an extended period of time. So, consumer confidence in the food supply is being tested yet again.

Simply put, it's all about trust. Consumer expectations of integrity have been dealt a major blow, and because it's all playing out in public, consumers become filled with notions of negligence and corruption within their food system. Given what has occurred and the sweeping media coverage, questions about food system practices no doubt will intensify, e.g., "What else don't we know?"

It's interesting to note that this has all occurred in the U.K. as we approach the one-year anniversary of the lean finely textured beef (LFTB) -- a.k.a. "pink slime" -- fiasco in the U.S. As such, it's probably good to remind ourselves of the lessons learned from that situation. After all, they're somewhat parallel scenarios, even though LFTB is completely legal and regulated and was misrepresented by the broader media.

Both events are potential game changers and speak to consequences of consumers finding out about their food after the fact.

The take-away message here is that there's no such thing as too much transparency. Facilitating that transparency requires innovative perspectives throughout the value chain.

As I noted last year in a column regarding LFTB, that means "new business paradigms that incorporate more traceability, more documentation and more verification."

It's the only way to establish and maintain credibility.

In all of this discussion, I'm reminded of a presentation by C. Larry Pope, chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods, to attendees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Outlook Forum in 2008.

His presentation followed the Westland/Hallmark animal abuse/meat recall debacle by just a few days. Again, there were no food safety concerns (despite USDA's recall); rather, it was an animal welfare and public relations matter.

Pope was especially forthright and passionate that day and made some great observations about the food business. Most notable, he discussed how customers increasingly care about the background of their food, a development he called "radically different" from previous generations.

He also remarked that these issues mandate changes in the value chain requiring greater alignment in the future.

"We can't do business (the old) way going forward. ... The consumer is forcing us (to change)," he said.

Perhaps most significant among Pope's comments, and what still resonates most with me to this day, was his observation that each of these incidents causes consumers to trust the food system a "little bit less." He's exactly right -- and failure to change spells long-lasting complications.

The only way to prevent the erosion of trust and broad cynicism in the food system is to ensure that we are doing the right thing each and every day while stepping up collaboration and communication with consumers. Then, and only then, will the food system begin to earn back that trust -- little by little.

*Dr. Nevil C. Speer is with Western Kentucky University and serves on the board of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, a national organization devoted to engaging livestock producers and livestock health professionals in developing solutions for issues in the livestock industry.

Volume:85 Issue:08

Consumers 'hungry' for health

Consumers 'hungry' for health

CONSUMERS may be starting to consider the health and nutrition of their meals more than thought, according to new research by the Hudson Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The research found that restaurants that serve lower-calorie foods and beverages experience better business performance than restaurants that serve more "traditional" menu offerings, according to the Hudson report on the study, which is thought to be the first-ever study to determine the financial impact of lower-calorie foods and beverages in the restaurant sector.

The research was conducted over a five-year period from 2006 to 2011, which included the 2008-09 recession, and analyzed sales at 21 restaurant systems, including both casual and quick-service chains that represent 49% of the market of the top 100 chains.

The researchers categorized "lower-calorie" items as entrees and sandwiches with 500 calories or fewer, appetizers/side dishes/desserts with 150 calories or fewer and beverages with 50 calories or fewer. Items that did not meet these parameters were considered "traditional."

The study found that, over the time period, lower-calorie foods and beverages were "the growth engine" for the restaurants, with lower-calorie items outperforming traditional items at 17 of the 21 restaurant companies.

Chains that increased offerings of lower-calorie items generated:

* A 10.9% increase in customer traffic, compared with a 14.7% decline at the other chains offering fewer lower-calorie items;

* A 5.5% increase in same-store sales, compared with a 5.5% decrease in same-store sales at the other chains, and

* An 8.9% increase in total food and beverage servings, compared with a 16.3% decrease at the other chains.

Furthermore, lower-calorie servings of foods and beverages increased as a percentage of the total servings across all 21 chains. Over the five years, chains collectively increased servings of lower-calorie items by 472 million, while servings of traditional items decreased 1.3 billion.

Consumers "are hungry" for restaurant meals that are healthful in terms of calories, and restaurants that recognize this are performing better than those that don't, said Hank Cardello, lead author of the report and a senior fellow at Hudson.

The research shows that restaurants that offer lower-calorie entrees and other foods and beverages can meet both their own profit interests and their customers' interests in healthier meals, said Dr. James Marks, senior vice president and director of the health group at Robert Wood Johnson.

The research used companies' annual reports and data from market research firms, and the findings are available in the report "Lower-Calorie Foods: It's Just Good Business."

The research was conducted by Hudson and funded by Robert Wood Johnson.

Hudson said the study followed up 2011 research, also led by Cardello, that examined the business impact of "better-for-you" packaged foods and beverages that found similar results.

The "bottom line," Cardello said, is that offering more better-for-you and lower-calorie foods and beverages "is good business" for packaged goods and restaurant companies.

Hudson, based in Washington, D.C., is a non-partisan policy research organization. It's "Obesity Solutions Initiative" (www.obesity-solutions.org) seeks to create market-oriented, practical solutions to the global issue of excess weight and obesity.

Robert Wood Johnson focuses on human well-being issues.


Getting the facts

The fact that better-for-you, lower-calorie packaged foods and beverages are becoming "good business" may suggest that consumers are finally starting to pay more attention to nutrition facts (nutrition information) labels, which have been in use for nearly 20 years, the Food & Drug Administration noted in a recent statement.

The Nutrition Labeling & Education Act of 1990 required the labels on all packaged foods, effective since May 1994. FDA said the labels can help people track nutrient availability in foods, compare nutrients in one food to another and make dietary choices.

Health professionals said this is good news as consumers historically have paid little attention to calorie and nutrition information at restaurants and on food packages (Feedstuffs, April 4, 2010).

In particular, FDA said labels can help people make heart-healthy choices.

High blood pressure affects one of every three adults in the U.S., or 75 million people, and slightly elevated blood pressure affects another 78 million people, FDA said, explaining that high blood pressure forces the heart to work harder and can lead to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S.

Consuming excessive cholesterol, sodium and total fat, especially saturated and trans fats, can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, FDA said, and by heeding the "percent daily value" (%DV) of these nutrients on the nutrition facts label, one can determine not only if a food is high in these nutrients but how much of each the product contains.

As a general guide, FDA said a %DV of 5% or less is considered low, and 20% or more is considered high.

To reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, FDA emphasized that a person should never consume more than 100% of the daily value for cholesterol, sodium or total fat each day.

FDA noted that the daily value for cholesterol is 300 mg, the daily value for total fat is 64 g and the daily maximum for sodium is 2,400 mg, although that drops to 1,500 mg for people with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, for African-Americans and for people who are 51 years of age and older.

Additional information on daily values and using nutrition facts labels is available at www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm315393.htm and also at www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm199058.htm.


Getting protein

Consumers also are showing an increasing interest in high-protein foods and beverages, according to market trends researcher Mintel in Chicago, Ill.

Protein "awareness" is, in fact, higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world because Americans are seeking protein to aid in satiety and weight management and to build and recover muscle, Mintel analyst Nirvana Chapman said.

Indeed, she said new food and beverage products making a high-protein claim in the U.S. last year accounted for 19% of such new product introductions worldwide, followed by 9% in India and 7% in the U.K.

Foods making high-protein claims "span an array" of categories well beyond naturally protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry and fish, Chapman said. Actually, the category is dominated by snacks, meal replacement and other fortified drinks and yogurts, she said.

High-protein formulations are especially important for people seeking satiety, i.e., a feeling of fullness, and for sports beverages due to protein's attributes for enhancing muscle repair and growth after exercise, Chapman said.

Volume:85 Issue:08