Why is Whey Protein So Expensive? (Explained!)

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Last updated on November 9th, 2022 at 04:18 pm

We’ve all thought, “Why is Whey Protein So Expensive?”

In fact, if anything, whey protein seems to get more expensive year-after-year.

You know yourself that the amount of money you spent on whey protein a few years ago has almost doubled now.

Then again, let’s face facts, whey protein has never actually been that cheap, especially when you compare it to other supplements.

So, what exactly is going on here?

Allow me to explain what you need to know about the cost of whey protein.

Why is Whey Protein So Expensive?

One of the main reasons that whey protein is so expensive is due to the supplier’s profit margins. You’ll typically find that most suppliers will initially offer heavily discounted prices in order to bring in new customers. However, this doesn’t make much profit, so eventually you’ll see huge price hikes. Additionally, supply and demand has increased, so this once more is reflected in the price. Plus, the manufacturing and marketing costs, as well as the need to import whey protein makes it expensive.

Whey Protein Supplier’s Profit Margins

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You’ve probably noticed that many whey protein suppliers offer huge discounts.

Then again, they have specific discount codes you can use to purchase any of their products.

Obviously, this is true when you purchase your whey protein online.

The aim here (as a supplier) is to entice you as a customer, and find a whey protein product that you can use and enjoy.

Then hopefully you’ll become a loyal customer.

However, all these discounts, codes, and “buy one get one free” offers won’t last forever.

In effect, the supplier is making very little profit from sales to new customers.

So, eventually the prices will go back to “normal”, but by now you like the whey protein that you’ve been using and you don’t want to go anywhere else to get it.

Essentially, you are now paying the usual price for your supplements.

With that being said, I know this isn’t always the case.

In fact, you may simply go to your local health store or sports store and purchase a tub of whey protein whenever you need it.

However, once more, quite often they are offered at “discounted” prices.

So, it’s actually quite shocking once the price returns to normal.

This is looking at things from a sales and consumer perspective, but whey protein is still so much more expensive that you would think.

So, let’s now look at the main reasons for this.

The Whey Protein Manufacturing (and Marketing) Process

Now, you’ll probably find many articles online that tell you the manufacturing process is both long and expensive.

Admittedly, to some extent this is true, but it’s not actually as expensive as many make out.

Okay, there is the expense of machinery and employees when it comes to extracting protein from both plants and animals.

However, as whey protein is produced in bulk, this still doesn’t explain why whey protein is so expensive by the time it hits the shelves.

With that being said, if you look at the costs of macronutrients in their simplest form, then protein is usually more expensive anyway.

As an example, look at the difference in price between 1kg of beef (protein) and 1kg of rice (carbohydrates).

In fact, you can’t really even compare the two, as there’s such a huge difference in price.

So, the cost of protein is always going to be fairly expensive.

However, even once the manufacturing process is done with, you also have to consider packaging and then marketing of the product.

Once more, there is the expense of machinery and human employees when it comes to packaging whey protein.

But, the largest expense typically comes down to marketing the product.

Now, you wouldn’t think this would be an issue, as so many people regularly consume whey protein.

In fact, it is estimated that nearly 50% of all Americans actually take a whey protein supplement.

However, this isn’t so much about the demand (although, I’ll get to that in a moment), but rather the competition for sales among “non-producers”.

Basically, there are protein marketing companies who don’t actually produce the products, but simply want to get in on the action.

If you think about it, wherever you go online to search for whey protein, you’ll be greeted with literally thousands of different options.

Plus, it is said that approximately 60% of the price of your tub of whey protein comes down to marketing costs.

This is also why it makes sense to shop around before making your purchase.

How Whey Protein is Made

The Cost of Whey Protein Import & Export

Not only are there costs for manufacture, packaging, and marketing, but also for actually importing and exporting whey protein.

Okay, the initial manufacturing process of whey protein will typically start on a dairy farm, but that doesn’t mean that every country in the world is doing this.

The country with the largest whey protein production is Germany, with almost 14,000,000 metric tons produced annually.

The Netherlands comes second with just over 8,000,000 metric tons per year.

Plus, Poland, Italy, the UK, France, Turkey, Ireland, Denmark, and Spain make up the rest of the top 10 largest whey protein producers in the world.

So, in effect, there are the costs of shipping and importing whey protein, and obviously the export costs from the source.

Therefore, depending on exactly where you are in the world, you could find that whey protein is significantly more expensive than other parts of the world.

Increased Demand For Whey Protein

I guess this is probably quite obvious now, but it’s the same for any business, i.e. supply and demand.

Whey protein is probably one of the most popular supplements there is.

It is typically used by those looking to build muscle, lose weight, or even as a dietary/meal replacement supplement.

So, if more people want a product, then more of it needs to be produced.

Therefore, this obviously increases manufacturing, packaging, importing and shipping costs.

I’ve already mentioned that almost 50% of Americans take a whey protein supplement.

Plus, the current value of the whey protein market is approximately $10BILLION worldwide.

This is expected to gradually increase year-on-year, and the whey protein market is estimated to be over $18BILLION by 2028.

In effect, according to statistics produced by Statista, the whey protein market will have doubled from 2020 to 2028.

Demand for whey protein doesn’t appear as though it will slow down any time soon, and unfortunately this will always be reflected in the price.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, there are a number of reasons why whey protein is so expensive.

This could be something as simple as initially receiving heavily discounted products, as well as discount codes, which may mask the “real” price.

With that being said, there are obviously manufacturing, packaging, and marketing costs to also consider.

In fact, it is estimated that 60% of the overall cost is for marketing purposes, especially by protein marketing companies who don’t actually produce whey protein.

You also have to consider that as Germany and the Netherlands are the main whey protein producers, so their products have to be imported.

Finally, protein in itself is fairly expensive anyway, and the increase in demand has further increased the costs.

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