The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Community News Network

June 20, 2014

Paleo dieters suffer as Panera fights protein price jump

CHICAGO — Eating like a caveman is getting costlier.

That's dour news for the growing number of Americans adopting diets that mimic the eating habits of their hunter- gatherer ancestors. The Bloomberg Protein Index, which tracks the prices of beef, beans, bacon and nine other protein sources, has jumped 28 percent in the five years through May. The measure has increased 5 percent this year, twice as fast as the gain for all food prices, as beef and pork got more expensive.

While more than half of American consumers are looking to eat more protein and millions are adhering to the Paleolithic, or Paleo, diet, the higher cost of the muscle-building amino acids threatens to curb their enthusiasm and send them in search of cheaper alternatives. That reversal may hurt foodmakers such as Kraft and restaurant chains like Taco Bell that are advertising more protein-heavy fare.

"For people who wanted to add protein just because it's healthy, if they start to get sticker shock, they might pull back a little bit," Darren Seifer, an analyst at researcher NPD Group, said in an interview. Consumers may switch to smaller sizes or substitute cheaper options such as chicken for higher-priced sources like beef, he said.

The idea of high protein consumption as a key to staying fit was popularized in the 1960s with Irwin Stillman's book "The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet." Robert Atkins followed in the 1970s and 1980s with diets designed to boost energy and drop pounds by limiting carbohydrates.

More recently in vogue is the Paleo diet, which encourages people to eat only whole, unprocessed foods like those available to humans in the Stone Age. About 1 million to 3 million Americans may have adopted the diet, according to an online study conducted by Hamilton Stapell, a professor at State University of New York at New Paltz.

Now, prices for some of the most common types of meat are surging this year. Pork has climbed as a virus killed as many as 8 million hogs, reducing supplies. Beef prices are up after years of drought shrank cattle herds to the smallest since 1951. Prices for eggs and dairy products also have gained in the past 12 months as export demand grows.

Not all customers are willing to pay the higher prices, said Panera Bread Chief Concept Officer Scott Davis, who came up with the chain's protein-rich egg-and-ham breakfast sandwich while dabbling in the Paleo diet.

Higher meat costs make it "a challenge to do more with protein today," he said.

Panera has a Power Menu that includes steak-and-egg breakfast bowls and Mediterranean roasted-turkey salads. The St. Louis-based company also recently added black bean and curried lentil flavors of hummus, made from protein-heavy chickpeas.

The high-protein salads and bowls are just about 20 cents more, on average, than regular salads because consumers would consider even an extra $1 a "hefty increase," Davis said.

Yum Brands' Taco Bell chain last year tested a Power Protein Menu with chicken and steak burritos and bowls - each with at least 20 grams of protein and 450 calories or less. The items were literally beefed up with double portions of meat, as well as guacamole, corn and reduced-fat sour cream. While the chain previously had a low-calorie, low-fat menu, it no longer resonated with customers, said Melissa Friebe, the chain's senior director of strategy and insights.

Customers said they wanted to "feel full without feeling weighed down," she said.

Foodmakers are also getting behind the trend. Kraft's Oscar-Mayer introduced P3 Portable Protein Packs with meat, cheese and nuts earlier this year. There are four different versions - ham, chicken and two kinds of turkey - that have at least 13 grams of protein and 170 calories or less. Recent commercials tout the $1.79 packs as "back to basics" in a world filled with diet fads.

"It came down to keeping it simple," Joe Fragnito, the brand's vice president of marketing, said in an interview. While the company had experimented with other high-protein foods, such as salads and empanadas, most people think of meat, cheese and nuts as "the original sources of protein."

Kellogg, facing declining cold cereal sales, plans to introduce two new Special K protein bars. It's also trying to spur sales by pointing out the protein content in milk and cereals.

"Consumers are seeking protein," CEO John Bryant said on a conference call last month. "We're talking about the benefits of protein that comes with cereal and milk, which is very much on track with the consumer today."

More than half of adults want more protein in their diets, according to a March study from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD. The percent of adults who look for "protein" on nutrition labels rose to 24.9 percent in 2013, the highest since at least 2004, the study shows.

Consumers are experimenting more with non-meat protein, as well, in part to find cheaper sources of the nutrient, according to the study. Along with obvious choices such as yogurt, nuts and seeds, more are flocking to pea powders, quinoa and lentils.

The Bloomberg Protein Index includes prices for ground beef, eggs, whole milk, pork chops, whole chicken, sliced bacon, dried beans, cheddar cheese, sirloin steak, whole turkey, creamy peanut butter and ham from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beef, pork and ham have gained the most this year, while turkey, eggs and peanut butter prices have fallen.

An adult weighing 180 pounds needs about 54 grams of protein a day, while a 130-pound person should have 39 grams, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eating more protein and fat can aid weight loss by making people feel better satiated and helping them avoid snacks, said Domingo Pinero, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University. Dieters should proceed with caution as some can develop kidney or cardiovascular complications from too much protein, he said.

Almost all Americans, as long as they're eating sufficient calories, are probably getting enough protein, Pinero said. About 35 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There's no such thing as protein deficiency in this country," he said.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee