Protein chocolate muscling into mainstream, says Noi Sirius

Iceland’s leading chocolate manufacturer introduces bite-sized protein chocolate for export markets

The booming protein market is starting to move beyond hardcore bodybuilders, according to Iceland’s premier chocolate producer.

Noi Sirus launched its protein chocolate, Aktiv Próteinbitar, for export markets at the recent International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) in Cologne, Germany. It claims the product addresses two major hitches with protein chocolate - poor taste and oversized bars -  that it says will take the product into mainstream channels in global markets.

Strong growth projected for protein

“We were looking at innovation and how we could expand. What we’d been looking at for a while was the protein industry,” Noi Sirius sales manager Thorhallur Agustsson told ConfectioneryNews.

 “We’d seen the increase in the protein market - around 8-10% for the last five or six years - and the perception was that it would rise at the same pace for the next five years. In 2017 it will have exceeded $9bn.”

Overcoming ‘substandard’ taste and gigantic bars

The sales chief said the company spotted an opportunity in the niche segment.

“The taste of many of the protein products with chocolate was substandard. The inconvenience of consuming protein products was also quite obvious. You had chocolate bars that were too big for a normal person, especially for women.”

The company’s Aktiv product contains isolated whey protein in bite-sized pieces.

Going mainstream

Agustsson said that protein helped not only body-builders, but everyone since it benefitted the bones, the immune system and helped the elderly maintain their health.

“The consumption of protein needs to be mainstream – not only in the very niche market of body building,” he said.

Each piece of Noi Sirius’ chocolate contains 20% protein, which Agustsson said could not be tasted in the final product.

The 100g bags come with a resealable feature. “We thought that was really important because it gets across that you can take this bag with you and you can consume these small bites whenever you have the time,” said Agustsson.

Key markets

The sales manager said the company would need to rethink its export strategy after great interest in the product at ISM.

“Before this exhibition we were looking at Scandinavia and Northern Europe. However, we have gotten responses from practically all over the world and we will have to look at our capacity in producing it before I can specify the main markets.”

Noi Sirius produces the product from its factory in Reykjavik, Iceland.

“Being a very small company in the wider scale of things, our nearest market will always be our preferable markets: Northern Europe and Scandinavia.”

The company launched the product in supermarkets in Iceland and said it would aim for similar mainstream channels in exports.

Noi Sirius holds a 30% share of the total confectionery market in Iceland and accounts for 60% of the total domestic production. The company also has distribution in the US through Whole Foods Market.

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