- Protein is the #1 ingredient in sports nutrition products.
- Active consumers are looking for products that offer a variety of functional benefits.
- The demand for protein is high due to its role in sports performance and overall health.
The pandemic has led to some big changes in how consumers eat and exercise. Sports nutrition manufacturers are now realizing there may be long-term implications to how consumers perceive and prioritize their health. While active and sports performance consumers still rely on the benefits they receive from sports nutrition products, many are looking for brands to fill even more of their needs.
Although there are many players in the $13.8 billion US sports nutrition category, nearly a third of the market is made up of just five brands, reports Euromonitor.1 These are Clif at 7.8%, Optimum Nutrition at 7.5%, BSN at 5.1%, and Cellucor and Muscle Milk, each at 4.5%.
Protein remains the top in-demand nutrient for sports nutrition products and is prominently featured in ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, beverage powders, and bars for sports nutrition. Euromonitor breaks down the category sales into:
Besides consumers’ desires for ingredients and product formats that can support their workouts, a new proactive and holistic focus on health is expected to drive sports nutrition trends going forward, notes FMCG Gurus.2 One way this is playing out is the increased attention sports nutrition consumers are paying to functional ingredients.
Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about ingredients that can offer a health boost beyond basic nutrition. When it comes to choosing a sports nutrition product, one with added adaptogens like ashwagandha (associated with stress relief) or immunity-related ingredients like elderberry will stand out as providing more value. Brands that include functional ingredients will be seen as supporting consumers’ overall health and wellness goals, rather than just their fitness goals.
More consumers are also looking to improve their diets to reduce the risk of health problems later. While they’re becoming more mindful of their food and beverage choices, there’s resistance to adopting a traditional diet, which is often associated with sacrifice. Consumers want to hold onto their moments of indulgence and are seeking out guilt-free snacks and treats—especially the indulgent-flavored, high protein, low sugar options found in the sports nutrition aisle.
The demand for high protein is a key reason sports nutrition products are becoming more mainstream among everyday consumers. While protein has long been associated with its role in muscle building, it’s now being sought after as a nutrient that supports good overall health.
Beyond its health halo, protein provides satiety—an attribute especially important to consumers for meal occasions like breakfast and snacking. Consumers are also tapping into this benefit to support their weight management efforts. It’s clear that protein plays a central role in a healthy diet and is a major draw of sports nutrition products.
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Addressing consumers’ new holistic approach to long-term health without compromising on the indulgence they love will require smart formulations with the right ingredients. To get your sports nutrition portfolio in tip-top shape, Glanbia Nutritionals' sports performance solutions include the ingredients you need to take your brand into the future—from plant and dairy proteins to healthy bioactives to craveable flavors.
Contact us to learn more about formulating for the active and performance-focused consumer.