MELVILLE, NY — Taste is the No. 1 purchase driver of nutrition and performance products, according to data from Comax Flavors.

The company surveyed 1,200 consumers about their behavior, usage and attitudes toward ready-to-drink protein drinks, protein bars, and sweet and savory protein snacks and found more than half (52%) cited taste as the most important attribute. Other priorities included health and convenience.

“The nutrition and performance market continues to grow,” said Catherine Armstrong, vice president of corporate communications at Comax Flavors. “Activity in new protein sources such as plant-based protein is fueling growth. We wanted to see how the market is changing and better understand consumers’ habits and usage among the general population.”

Chocolate reigned supreme among protein beverages, bars and sweet snacks. Strawberry and vanilla also were popular RTD beverage flavors, while peanut butter and nut flavors took second and third place for protein bars.

Chocolate chip was the No. 1 flavor for protein cookies and wafers, followed by chocolate and peanut butter. Around a third of consumers preferred snickerdoodle and vanilla flavors.

Thirty percent of consumers cited increased energy and decreased appetite as the top reasons for consuming protein brownies. Chocolate and chocolate peanut butter were among the most sought-after flavors, along with chocolate chip and cookies and cream. Consumers who purchased protein cake bites also preferred chocolate and cookies and cream flavors, followed by cookie dough.

Consumers who purchased savory protein snacks like chips, tortillas, puffs and popcorn preferred cheese flavors, followed by salt, garlic, BBQ and savory herb.

While plant protein was the most important ingredient consumers looked for in protein beverages and snacks, the majority of respondents (52%) did not follow a specific diet. Among consumers who did follow a specific diet, keto was most popular (12%), along with intermittent fasting (11%) and gluten-free (10%).