Protein Power: A Must-Have Food Trend In Vending, Micro Markets

Nov. 10, 2016

How often do you hear about protein? Personally I hear about it a few times a day whether I’m looking up food trends or watching an ad on television. Many foods and beverages alike are touted as being high in protein, which has been a growing ‘trend’ for a few years now— but more recently it seems to be getting even bigger.

In fact, consumers are paying more attention to how much protein they are taking in and are looking for a range of sources to do so. The majority of U.S. consumers (78 percent) said that protein contributes to a healthy diet and more than half of adults say they want more of it in their diets, reports The NPD Group.

And this isn’t a bad thing. Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissue and it’s an important building block of muscles, bones, skin and much more.

But are we offering enough protein options in our vending machines and micro markets? Maybe not. Here are a few popular snacks that are packed with protein and can meet a growing demand.

Meat sticks and jerky 

Americans spent $2.8 billion on dried meat snacks last year, according market research firm IRI. And jerky sales grew 12.5 percent the same year. Jerky/meat sticks is an exploding category and one that shouldn’t be ignored in our industry. At the OneShow this year I recall several different companies offering meat snacks such as organic bison meat bars and gourmet beef jerky with exotic flavors.

Cheese sticks, cheese-based product 

Cheese is a great way to get protein. To cater to consumers looking for this product, look to cheese sticks which are easy to dispense from vending machines and simple to incorporate in micro markets as well. Manufacturers are even offering a combination cheese and meat stick product, but be careful when offering just that product as you may drive away vegetarian customers who would have just preferred the cheese stick. To extend this category even further, try offering single serve cottage cheese packages.

Beverages with natural/added protein 

Milk is packed with protein, but that’s not just the only beverage you can offer. Manufacturers are adding protein into many beverages and it’s not so hard these days to find something that’s great tasting with plenty of protein. Some examples of beverages include Muscle Milk, 5-hour ENERGY Protein Shot, chocolate milk, ICONIC Protein and more.

These are just a small number of products. Manufacturers are also launching snack bars packed with protein and Greek yogurt is another offering that packs a protein punch and appeals to consumers. You could even try offering hard boiled eggs in your machines or via your micro markets. To highlight the product even more, place clings or stickers on the product to emphasize how many grams of protein are in each one with a “fun fact” of the positives of protein.

Getting creative with food trends isn’t just a way to bring new products to consumers; it’s also a way to freshen up product offerings and hopefully increase sales, too.