The ‘Right To Protein’ initiative, powered by U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) introduced the ‘Pakistan Protein Perception Study 2023’, an insightful report developed basis a nation-wide survey conducted by YouGov assessing citizen’s knowledge, behaviour, and perceptions about protein foods in Pakistan. The study highlights the practical challenges that pose as a barrier to adequate protein consumption in Pakistan. Majority of the Pakistanis are unaware of their ideal daily protein requirements and lack basic knowledge of protein rich foods.
The Pakistan Protein Perception Study found that majority of the respondents spend only between 10-20% of their monthly food budgets on food sources that are rich in protein, which is the most essential macronutrient for human bodies. Over 60% citizens surveyed agree that lack of protein affects their overall health with lifestyle issues being the most common symptom that lead to protein deficiencies. Alarmingly, 46% wrongly believe that high consumption of protein leads to weight gain and 45% state that controlling calories is more important than consuming protein. Less than 50% of respondents felt they were consuming less than half of the required amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and over 40% incorrectly classified fruits, vegetables, and whole grain cereals to be ‘high protein’ foods.
The study further revealed that high inflation in plant-protein food sources such as beans, milk, whole grain cereals as well as animal protein sources such as poultry, fish, and meat are driving perceptions about their relative unaffordability in recent times. As a result, while less than half (46%) respondents reported some increase in protein consumption, little over half reported a decline or no change in their consumption as per basic requirements. Respondents whose protein consumption decreased by a larger amount are larger households (married and have kids) and the decline was experienced majorly in the consumption of meat and fish which are protein-rich but more expensive as compared to other sources.
This study comes at a critical time and helps understand the challenges caused due to rising food prices in the country. With the compounding factors of a growing population and the impacts of global climate change, ensuring food and nutrition security has become an urgent area of concern.
Speaking about the study, Deeba Giannoulis, Regional Head, U.S. Soy Marketing & Sustainability, SAASSA, U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) said, “USSEC is a big advocate of food and nutrition security in the region. The ‘Pakistan Protein Perception Study’ brings forth the perspectives and priorities for the citizens, aiming to identify strategies for combating protein energy malnutrition and advocating reforms to bolster protein production and consumption. These could encompass measures such as improving accessibility to quality animal feed to lower costs of high-protein foods, exploring alternative sources of protein-rich foods, and raising overall public awareness of the critical role that protein plays in nutritional well-being and therefore nutrition security of the nation.”
Developed by YouGov, the Pakistan Protein Perception Study 2023 surveyed over 500 respondents in Pakistan using a quota-based sampling approach for representation of different age groups (18-45+ years) and genders. This survey was conducted using an online interview (lasting ~10 minutes) administered in English, to a sample from members of the YouGov Pakistan panel that consists of nearly 69,500 individuals. The sample was representative of adult urban internet users (18 years of age and above), who can read and understand English, and the results reflect the general responses of such an audience.
‘Right To Protein’ invites everyone to share the Pakistan Protein Perception Study 2023 within their networks and engage in meaningful discussions to drive positive change.
For further details regarding the Pakistan Protein Perception Study, please access the report here.