Through Nielsen's collaboration in Australia with medical research group The George Institute, Nielsen research released late July found that manufacturers are losing over AUD50 million in potential sales by not listing protein content on food and drink packaging, thus missing out on the protein trend sweeping the world.

In Australia, sales of items that list protein content have leaped by 22.3 percent compared to 2.0 percent in total grocery growth, with the fastest growth in dairy and chilled meals. This trend was even higher in the USA which saw a 157 percent increase in sales of products that listed protein content in just one year.

"This increase in demand presents an opportunity for manufacturers to promote their products’ protein content to boost sales growth," Nielsen said.

"New products in the meat alternative, peanut butter, and ice cream categories are addressing consumers’ protein desires head-on, which has prompted incremental category growth of between 16-54 percent.

"Other categories, such as nutritious snacks that have protein claims on packaging saw 6 percent growth in the past year, while products that qualify for high protein claim, but failed to list protein content on packaging grew just 3 percent."

Nielsen’s head of retail, Alfredo Costa said: “We are confident that the demand for protein will continue into the future. And as Australian shoppers continue to seek out products which satisfy their health and wellness needs, products with clear protein claims will remain sought after on Australians’ grocery lists.

“Manufacturers need to meet their consumers’ needs and desires with clearly labeled information on packs if they want to have a winning edge with product innovation and drive sales.”

Protein-savvy shoppers are not limited to health-obsessed millennials. Nielsen data shows people who claim protein as a “must have” or “good to have” in their grocery purchases are more likely to be families with children aged 6-18 or senior couples.

"Targeting the right audience is key for brands to achieve protein growth as different demographics consume protein for different reasons and at different times. For example, young families will buy protein products to compensate for not eating animal products, while dairy is the top category for high protein items chosen by senior couples for health reasons," Nielsen added.