Loss of muscle is a recognised part of the ageing process, but a protein-rich breakfast high in vitamin D and dietary fibre could help maintain muscle mass and vitality, according to Marjanne Prins, a trained dietitian and inventor of BonDuo.

Prins spent 25 years working in the pharmaceutical industry before deciding six years ago to develop a breakfast that could meet the particular nutritional needs of ageing consumers. BonDuo is a ready-to-eat breakfast made with unsweetened dairy in either raspberry or banana flavour, topped with crispy whey protein balls coated in dark Belgian chocolate. It contains no added sugar and provides 22.3 grams of protein per serving, as well as 5.6 grams of fibre in the form of inulin, and 370 IU of vitamin D.

“I have a special interest in maintaining muscle mass because that is the key to maintaining our vitality and thus independence until a very high age,” Prins said.

However, it can be difficult to obtain enough protein to prevent muscle loss as we age, and she said that despite rising interest in protein, there was still a lack of products on the market containing enough protein, fibre and vitamin D to meet nutritional recommendations at breakfast. BonDuo aims to fill that need, and has just launched in the Netherlands.

High protein need

“Ill and older people have very high protein needs that can be twice as high as a young and growing teenager, and are often vitamin D deficient” she said, adding that as well as ensuring a sufficient quantity, it is also important to replenish protein stores first thing in the morning. Her idea was to create a nutritionally beneficial breakfast that tastes like a treat.

“A high protein product is not necessarily the tastiest product, particularly when you look at the medical nutrition market,” she said. “If nutrition is not a pleasure for the mouth, people will stop taking it, and it doesn’t help if you take it only once. You need to keep taking it frequently to feel the benefit.”

Although BonDuo was developed with the elderly in mind, Prins says it could also help sportspeople and those who want a balanced meal to take out when walking or cycling. It is suitable for diabetics and the dairy is ambient-stable, so it can be kept outside of the refrigerator. The company is aiming for a nine-month shelf-life to give plenty of flexibility for distribution.

The plan is to use the first year as a test year for the Netherlands and then expand into other markets, she explained, and the company has already filed global patents and registered its name as a trademark in the United States. Currently, BonDuo is only available online and Prins intends to raise awareness of the product among professionals, like dietitians and physiotherapists, while doing a regional launch.

She is clear that the success of the product depends on its taste as much as its benefits.

“We have used a very high quality Belgian dark chocolate so with just a little bit you get a very good taste – a natural carrier of vitamin D and with a lovely aftertaste, so you don’t get the sandy protein aftertaste,” she said. “It becomes a treat to eat and not something you must eat.”

She added, “We call it ‘Naughty and Wise’ because our target audience is Baby Boomers, and they did not want to be told by their parents what to do – and definitely not by their children. It’s not just the product that’s naughty but wise, it’s also the personality of our target audience.”