As United States consumers look to increase their intake of protein, about half of them feel animal meat proteins are the best source of protein, finds The NPD Group, a leading global information company. To demonstrate their belief, over 60 percent of survey respondents say they eat animal protein in a typical day. 

Topping the list of the animal proteins considered the best sources of protein are beef and chicken. Fish ranks third and is followed by pork, ham, shellfish, lamb, and bacon, according to a recent NPD report Protein Perceptions and Needs. The report also finds that consumers, generally, are less likely to cite dairy and eggs as the best sources of protein when compared to animal meat protein. Some respondents also preferred deli meats as their preferred choice of protein. While still an animal protein, deli meats were listed in the "other category," where 22 percent of those surveyed chose that as their favorite protein.

Defining protein customers

To better define protein consumers, the NPD report segments them into three categories: Traditional Protein Purists, Flexible Protein Users, and Knowledgeable but Indifferent. Traditional Protein Purists are much more likely to consider animal proteins as their main source of protein. This segment is content eating animal proteins and do not feel the need to seek out protein alternatives. 


“While Traditional Protein Purists stick to their traditional meat sources for protein, they are also likely to have more meals that are rounded out with vegetables and grains,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Unlike Flexible Protein Users, it would be difficult to convince these protein consumers to use a different protein source than animal protein.  For food manufacturers and retailer to reach this group, it’s a matter of understanding and reflecting their needs in product development and marketing messaging.”