US sports nutrition outlook 2020

US Sports Nutrition Outlook 2020

Here's a look at everything manufacturers need to know about today's sports nutrition market, including an update on brand market share and sales breakdown by product type—plus a deep dive into key purchase drivers for sports nutrition consumers.

Sports Nutrition Category Breakdown

While there are many players in the $13.8 billion U.S. sports nutrition category, nearly a third of the market is made up of just five brands, reports Euromonitor in its “Sports Nutrition in the US” report.1 These are Clif at 7.8 percent, Optimum Nutrition at 7.5 percent, BSN at 5.1 percent, and Cellucor and Muscle Milk, each at 4.5 percent.

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 for 2019 as follows:

  • Sports protein powders (53 percent)
  • Protein and energy bars (30 percent)
  • Sports non-protein products (9 percent)
  • Sports protein RTD beverages (8 percent)
US Sports Nutrition Outlook 2020 drinks Glanbia Nutritionals

Top Sports Activities for Sports Nutrition Consumers

To gain insights into the specific needs of different sports nutrition consumers, manufacturers can look at the types of sports activities in which their consumers are most likely to be engaging. While all types of exercise require fuel for energy and muscle support, the needs of a jogger can be quite different from those of a weight lifter, for example. Glanbia Nutritionals' Active Lifestyle Consumer Study2 found the most popular sports activities, in order, to be:

  1. Running and jogging
  2. Strength training
  3. Cycling
  4. Swimming
  5. Yoga and pilates

Sports nutrition products targeting endurance athletes, such as runners and cyclists, might focus on hydration and easily digested carbohydrates, whereas products for weight lifters may require high protein levels and key amino acids. Exercise recovery products, however, might look very similar for both groups. 

In addition, the type of activity performed can indicate the most appropriate format for a sports nutrition product. For example, bars may be perfect for someone headed to yoga class after work, while a competitive runner may need to rely on chews and gels for calories.

US sports nutrition outlook 2020 infographic

Understanding Key Purchase Drivers

Beyond nutrient and product format needs, what drives consumers to choose one sports nutrition product on the shelf over another? According to Mintel’s “Sports, Nutrition and Performance Drinks” report,3 the leading factor is taste. Other key considerations are the amount of sugar in the product, the lack of artificial ingredients, and how well-known the brand is. The product claims most important to these consumers are "all-natural," "no additives/preservatives," and "sourced in the U.S."

Mintel also identified certain generational differences in perceptions and behaviors around sports nutrition products. For example, Gen Z was found to have a high level of interest in exercise recovery products, perhaps due to the high activity level of this age group. Gen X is particularly interested in seeing more variety in workout products, and Millennials are the most likely to do research before purchasing a new sports nutrition product.

Get Your Portfolio in Shape

Need help getting your sports nutrition portfolio in tip-top shape? Contact Glanbia Nutritionals for insights on the in-demand sports nutrition ingredients that can take your products to the next level!


1. Euromonitor International. (2019). Sports Nutrition in the US. Retrieved from
2. Glanbia Nutritionals. (2018). Active Lifestyle Consumer Study. 
3. Mintel. (2019). Sports, Nutrition and Performance Drinks – US – March 2019. Retrieved from

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