“Bars and dairy drinks are driving the protein trend across Latin America,” Cintia Nishiyama, DuPont Nutrition & Health marketing manager for South America, told FoodNavigator-LATAM. “Consumers are aware of the benefits of protein, and 56% of Brazilian are actively trying to increase protein or aware they should.”
While LATAM is renowned as a big meat producing region, an increasing number of consumers are demanding plant-based protein and meat-free alternatives, added Nishiyama.
"The number of vegetarian restaurants have increased,” she noted. “Already 51% of Brazilians are classified as flexitarians, even though the term is not very known yet.
“Big meat companies already working on expanding their frozen or chilled ready meals with vegetarian alternatives."
The company continues to innovate with its soy protein range, and launched Supro XT 221 D for dry blended beverages that has the ability to dissolve in only nine seconds, she said. DuPont also offers Supromax structured vegetable protein for veggie alternative meals, such as nuggets, beef, meatloaves, and burgers. The ingredient is a combination of soy and wheat protein combined with wheat starch, giving meat-like fibrosity and texture in a number of applications.
Economic conditions are also helping with this trend, and DuPont expects NPD to accelerate now the economies in the region are recovering.
Health and wellness
“Brazil and Argentina are just recovering growth after years of recession,” said Nishiyama. “But, despite of the tough economic environment, health and wellness, no doubt, continues to be a strong driver.”
The company offers a range of ingredients for this trend, including probiotics (with significant demand in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, although local regulations affect this sector) and protein, but there are also options regarding sugar reduction.
“Sugar and sodium reduction are big trends in Latin America,” she said, adding that local governments are taking a very active role to curb consumption of sugar and sodium/ salt. For example, Chile introduced black stop signs on products, while Ecuador has traffic lights. In addition, Mexico introduced a sugar tax in 2014.
“Developing healthier products while keeping taste and texture is not always easy,” said Nishiyama, “and achieving the right cost can also be challenging.” A number of solutions are available to reduce sugar and produce satisfactory results, she said, including fibers as bulking agent in beverages or cakes, polyols for cookies and hydrocolloids for beverages.
While clean label is a strong trend in Europe and the US, the trend is less developed in Latin America, with the region moving more towards “cleaner label and stronger for some specific categories such as juices”, said Nishiyama. “But the overall consumer do not ready labels. And for the ones who read, cost is another barrier.”
Likewise, organic is much less developed as a category. A perfect illustration of this is that Nestlé only recently launched its first organic products in Brazil.
Local innovation driving global business
Nishiyama explained that DuPont’s local technical teams in LATAM are helping to drive internal innovation. For example, DuPont’s Brazilian technical team recently led research around patents for the PowerMill enzyme. In addition, the Brazilian oils and fats and bakery teams launched solutions to allow low saturated margarines/spreads and sandwich cookies. “This solution allow sat fat to be reduced up to 70% and together with PowerMill received the 1st and 2nd place of most innovative ingredients at Food Ingredients South America 2017,” she said.
The company’s global strategy focuses on three important categories: beverage, bakery, and dairy, but the importance of processed meat to LATAM means DuPont also has a local focus on that category. For bakery, the company offers a wide variety of ingredients for bread volume and texture, enzymes, emulsifiers, and ingredients to help reduce sugar and fat, and protein for high protein products. For dairy, it’s lots of cultures. And for beverages, the company offers an ingredient portfolio for sugar reduction and bulking agents. “We also offer solutions for high protein beverages, which are still emerging but we do see some high protein beverages,” said Nishiyama.