Native Whey

Cost of Whey Protein for Manufacturers: Is Native Whey Protein Actually More Expensive?

Native Whey Protein (NWP) is a premium protein source. Unfortunately, that means a higher price tag in terms of quantity compared to traditional Whey Protein Isolate (WPI). But if you’re a functional food, drink or supplement manufacturer, don’t let that initial sticker shock deter you from making the switch. Here’s why.

The past decade has seen record highs and record lows in the whey protein market.

It started with a health and fitness craze that introduced a lot of new customers to WPI. That brought with it record demand, and the market struggled to increase supply to meet that demand. Once the supply caught up, the demand didn’t grow as fast, leading to record low prices.

Then the pandemic hit. The demand for protein and whey protein remained strong, but new supply came almost to a halt, putting significant pressure on prices.

Now in 2021, WPI prices are on the rise again. That means the price gap between NWP and WPI is shrinking. If you use traditional whey in your supplement formulation, now may be the best time to switch to NWP.

But the (marginally) higher price for NWP doesn’t tell the whole story. Switching to NWP can add a lot of value down the road for your company and your formulations in terms of availability and product quality.

Price vs. Quantity

Like we mentioned before, the price gap between NWP and WPI is shrinking. And while we hope to convince you that NWP’s higher price is in fact worth it, we understand that price is ultimately the biggest factor for manufacturers – especially in the price-driven North American market.

So, let’s talk about price, and a scenario that could keep your up-front costs close to the same—if not a little better.

When you only take quantity into account – e.g. $/lb., NWP is more expensive than traditional whey. However, that line of thinking neglects the nutritional quality and value that it provides to your end consumer.

NWP is a purer and more bioavailable protein (more on this in a later section). Meaning the customer needs less NWP to get the same benefits that WPI gives them. So, you can use less NWP in your formulations and still get the same benefits. In fact, based on years of clinical studies, we only recommend 15g as the regular serving size of NWP.

If you’re willing to change the amounts in your formulation, you can get the same product efficacy with less grams of protein. You can optimize your costs and use less without giving up value to the consumer. NWP gives your formulations the benefits of a sustainable process that doesn’t waste any protein. It also allows you to formulate better tasting products with less calories.

Availability & Supply

The traditional whey protein supply is limited and highly competitive. More consumers entering the protein supplement market creates more demand for the end-product. Manufacturers need to keep up.

If you make the switch to NWP, you avoid that competitive scrum by sourcing a different ingredient.

One thing to note: NWP is still a dairy product, so it has some availability and production constraints that come with dairy. There are only so many cows that can produce so much milk. But the good news here is NWP provides you with a more stable and predictable price. It doesn’t line up to the more volatile whey commodity market, so it’s less susceptible to variable highs and lows in price.

NWP remains a very small market in comparison with the whey protein commodity market. Not everybody is sourcing NWP. You’ll have more consistency and less variability, and it could become a more sustainable and stable way to source a high-quality differentiated whey protein source. You’ll have a consistent supply you can count on when planning your production schedule. And in some cases, the benefits of having a consistent supply can outweigh the greater price. Consider how supply constraints could possibly affect your business in the long-term and see if the higher price for a consistent supply is a beneficial tradeoff for your business.

Added Benefits & Product Quality

NWP has benefits that you don’t get from traditional WPI.

Native whey comes from a greener process, which means it keeps most of its original integrity. NWP only goes through a 3-step process of pasteurization, cold membrane filtration and drying. WPI and even plant-based protein powders go through many more steps and have additives that degrade the quality of the protein.

NWP is also more complete, more bioavailable and purer than WPI. Let’s break that down:

  • More Complete: NWP is a complete protein, meaning it has the 9 essential amino acids our bodies do not produce naturally but are needed for protein synthesis. WPI is also a complete protein, but NWP contains 17% more leucine, which is the amino acid that triggers protein synthesis. That helps your consumers recover from exercise and build muscle faster.
  • More Bioavailable: Bioavailability is determined by several nuanced factors like digestibility and PDCAAS, but at a high level it means the protein can be taken in and processed by the body. NWP has more of what your body uses and less of what it can’t process, helping your customers quickly process and digest your products.
  • Purer: Protein purity affects how effectively the body can digest and utilize it. In the case of NWP, it has a higher purity level than whey protein. That means it doesn’t contain any extra lactose, fat and cheese production residues. It also doesn’t have any added chemicals, a criteria that a growing number of consumers are demanding.

These three factors (backed by 15 years of science) lead to better muscle recovery, more optimized protein synthesis and better overall muscle functions for your consumers.

To top it off,  has a clean, flavorless aftertaste, a welcome change for all protein powder supplement consumers that allows you to add it to any formulation without relying on additives to cover up a specific after taste.

So, with these benefits in mind, there is a growing number of new consumers entering the protein supplement market who value better taste, evidence-based benefits, sustainability and naturality. When you use NWP in your formulations, you can market to those consumers effectively, giving you a head start on a new audience before bigger whey protein supplement companies get to them.

Simply put, if you’re looking for an edge in marketing or a growing niche, then NWP can give your products that edge.


Switching to NWP will help your products stand out in a crowded market. You’ll be able to claim a lot more functional benefits for your consumers like protein quality, digestibility and a sustainable greener process with no additive.

With the price of WPI on the rise, now may be the best time to switch to NWP in your formulations. The added value in terms of supply and product quality and marketable benefits will certainly pay off in the long run for a lot of manufacturers.

Talk to a Native Whey Expert

Now’s the time to switch to Native Whey Protein for your formulations. Get in touch to talk to an expert and see how you can start formulating with a better protein source.