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Plant protein powder is no longer exclusive to vegans and athletes, with significant numbers of mainstream consumers now shopping the category, according to new research commissioned by MycoTechnology, Inc., the mushroom mycelial fermentation specialist.

The survey of 725 plant protein powder users, carried out by Brightfield Group in Q1 2023, found that just 17 % of them identified as vegan. Furthermore, 38 % of the respondents in the survey who declared that they purchase only plant-based protein powders said they mixed them with dairy milk, indicating that they buy such products for reasons other than dietary lifestyle choices.

Meanwhile, fewer than half of the respondents in the survey (46 %) identified as athletes, even though as many as 77 % of them said they exercised at least three times a week. The vast majority (93 %) stated that they exercise to support their mental health.

When asked to describe themselves, 34 % of respondents were identified as ‘early adopter’ consumers. Another 31 % were ‘early majority’ shoppers, indicating a shift for plant protein powder into a more mainstream demographic.

When it comes to product quality, plant-based protein powder consumers are in broad agreement. Nearly all of them (92 %) said they would find a product more appealing if it offered higher quality protein, with 91 % attracted by a protein that is more complete. Beyond nutritional factors, 91 % of respondents said they favour products that promise a better taste.

MycoTechnology’s Marketing Director, Jonas Feliciano, commented: “These findings demonstrate that plant protein is smashing apart outdated stereotypes and is now earning strong support among mainstream consumers. The fact that so many blend their plant protein powder with milk is a strong sign that non-vegans consider plant protein to be a conventional product and a key part of a healthy diet. Most notably, all but a few of the respondents to our survey said that they considered protein quality and flavour to be of the utmost importance. The successful plant proteins of the future will be those which are able to tap into the needs and preferences of these highly discerning consumers.”

Bethany Gomez, Managing Director at Brightfield Group, added: “Plant-based protein users are a young, affluent group that prefers cleaner eating–no sugar added, all natural, preservative free–and they’re willing to pay for high quality products with that strong health profile. This group is also more likely to be using functional ingredients, like mushrooms and adaptogens, so we know they’re open to new and alternative ways to get the types of sustenance and nutrition they’re looking for. Brands that strive to offer high quality products, using cutting edge ingredients, will find a group of users ready and willing to dig in.”

A trailblazer in the development of next-generation plant proteins, MycoTechnology offers a line of plant proteins including FermentIQ PTP – a pea and rice protein blend fermented by mushroom mycelia to deliver superior performance and nutrition. Providing all essential amino acids, it has a PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score) of 1.0 for ages 3 and above. Its unique fermentation process also enhances digestibility, enabling 99.9 % of the protein consumed to be easily digested. As a result, FermentIQ PTP offers a nutritional value competitive with animal and soy proteins.

MycoTechnology’s proprietary process also deodorises and de-flavours the plant proteins, offering better tasting, more neutral solutions with superior functionality in a range of applications. For those looking to take the taste of their products to the next level, MycoTechnology also offers ClearIQ – a natural, clean-label bitter blocker and flavour clarifier.