Protein sources in South Korea


Protein is a key part to the human diet, and consumers are now realizing the benefits it can offer. Protein has usually been associated with building muscle and used within sports nutrition; however everyday consumers are now looking to stay healthier for longer. This had led to a rise in protein products with a surge for new alternatives. Consumers are looking to increase their protein in their diets, and are actively seeking new innovative products when snacking. So, how are consumers changing their dietary habits to incorporate more protein, and what sources do they prefer?


By Will Cowling

Consumers are now taking a more proactive approach to their health and nutrition as they are looking to understand how much protein they are consuming. FMCG Gurus research shows that 65% of consumers in South Korea are aware with how much protein they have consumed within the last 24 hours. Although everyday consumers are starting to track their protein intake, they are still not aware of how much they should be having. Almost four in 10 people state they are unsure if they have enough protein in their diets.

There are many avenues which people get their protein intake from. The top two being from meat products (82%), and plant-based products (56%). Only 20% of consumers get their protein intake from sports nutrition products with added protein. Protein intake has risen due to the associated health benefits, and the rise in consumers who are taking a proactive approach to their health. There are many benefits associated with protein, but in South Korea, consumers associate general health and wellness (61%) and that it helps them stay active as they age (75%).

Many ingredients are associated with high protein content. Peas and tempeh are two ingredients which hold high protein content, and consumers in South Korea are actively looking for these in products. When looking at products which contain pea, 65% of consumers will check for protein claims most to all of the time. This is similar for tempeh as 56% of consumers will check for protein claims.

Although consumers are checking for protein claims, they are not so willing to pay a premium for tempeh (21%), however, 65% are willing to pay a premium for pea. These ingredients can be used in many formats of food. When it comes to pea, consumers want to see this in meat alternative products (39%), in comparison consumers want to see tempeh in sports nutrition products (37%).

Insects hold a high protein content, and are a more sustainable source. In South Korea, 71% of consumers are aware of the possibility of eating insects as a form of processed food. FMCG Gurus research shows that 62% have previously eaten insects as a part of their diets. Over half of consumers find the concept of insects as a form of processed food appealing or very appealing. This is because of the protein content (19%), the sustainability of the product (33%), and that consumers in South Korea like to try new tastes and flavours (42%).

This article is written by Will Cowling, marketing manager at FMCG Gurus. The article is based on FMCG Gurus' South Korea Meat & Plant-based Survey Q2 2019.