Paleo Diet Driving Shift to ‘High-Protein’ Marketing Frenzy

Food companies are launching new "protein" lines, hoping to cash in on this year's hottest food claim.

Feb 19, 2014 at 10:53AM

Remember when it seemed every new packaged food launch led with info on anti-oxidants and high fiber? Move over acai berries, protein is in! According to industry analysts, the hottest claim on the rise continues to be protein.

Protein has gotten a power boost of its own by "Paleo" diet trends and the return of low-carb eating. While we need to be clear that not every packaged food making a protein claim would fit into those diet categories, nevertheless buzz makes a trend and the food companies are on it. The protein claim works especially well for snack and convenience brands, offering consumers a way to easily and conveniently raise their protein consumption, and offering producers a way to boost the perceived value and appeal of their products.

The protein appeal also has a wide demographic reach, touching those with active lifestyles, busy moms, and boomers seeking to maintain healthy bones and muscle mass.

More than nuts

This week, Kraft Foods Group (NASDAQ:KRFT) plans to launch Oscar Mayer P3, a somewhat sleekly packaged combo pack of meat, cheese, and nuts. Of course, with Oscar Mayer emblazoned on the top, and a three-compartment plastic pack within, it's not hard to wonder if this is Lunchables for the "cool kids" – and perhaps that's just what it is. The packaging features a bold design that could certainly appeal to young adults as well as help drive male appeal.

Tony Vernon, chief executive officer of Kraft Foods Group, sees P3 as a natural way to update the Oscar Mayer brand and lift sales. "Protein, whether it's peanuts or meats or cheese — we happen to be the leaders in each of those categories — we feel great about what we can do there."

Kraft Foods Snack Packs A Protein Punch


Protein to start the day

Manufacturers want to be sure to stay top of mind for consumers who are continually reminded that protein for breakfast keeps them energized and fuller longer.

Tyson (NYSE:TSN) just unveiled its first line of breakfast food, which it describes as – you guessed it – high protein. Tyson says its new "Day Starts" products are "high protein" breakfast options for "busy families." The breakfast sandwiches, which look similar to something you might get at McDonalds (NYSE: MCD), are surely high protein with egg, cheese, and meat. (Of course, the biscuit means this might be high protein, but it's not low carb.)

When rolling out its 2014 plans, General Mills (NYSE:GIS) gave top billing to its strategy to spiff up some "sleepy" cereal brands with a high-protein boost. Ian Friendly, EVP/COO for General Mills U.S. Retail, said the company hopes to reignite sales of its Fiber One and Nature Valley cereal brands by infusing them with the "protein benefit" consumers are seeking.

It's hard to pack prime rib

Filling up on easy-to-carry, inexpensive protein can be a challenge. Most meat, cheese, and yogurt require refrigeration, making them a challenge to pack for kids or adults on the go; nuts can be expensive; and still other proteins are difficult to find at a traditional grocery store or may seem a bit exotic for some tastes. Food manufacturers have an opportunity to marry the high-protein trend with consumer preferences for convenience and accessibility, and in so doing aspire to give some sizzle to outdated brands and add a shot of relevance to their products.

At the end of the day

Despite all the protein claims, these products are more about repackaging and spin than significant nutritional changes. A McMuffin by any other name is still, well, a McMuffin. So the extent to which consumers are moved remains to be seen.

Will shoppers buy into the nutritional trend of the year? Can food manufacturers put enough muscle behind these newly protein-infused brands to pump up sales and brighten the bottom line? Despite the energy, enthusiasm, and dollars that marketers have put into these launches, for now I'll just stand with my good friend from Missouri and say, "Show me."

The next step for you

Want to figure out how to profit on business analysis like this? The key is to learn how to turn business insights into portfolio gold by taking your first steps as an investor. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal finance experts show you what you need to get started, and even give you access to some stocks to buy first. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Beth Nichols has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers