Sports nutrition scoring in the mainstream: The latest trends driving the sector’s growth

Sport nutrition in the mainstream: Manufacturers are launching more products for active consumers in mainstream food categories.

The blurring of boundaries between sports nutrition and mainstream food and beverages is fuelling the sector’s growth, alongside new product development (NPD) tackling consumer needs according to their age, gender and lifestyle.

Information presented at this week’s Vitafoods show in Geneva, where NutraIngredients staged its annual awards, highlighted how sports nutrition firms were increasingly targeting age and gender related performs, with NPD positioning featuring active ageing, sporty teens and health conscious women.

It was also revealed that active performance products were increasingly been found in the mainstream, with launches in the dairy space growing by 45% in the last year. Other fast growing sectors with new product launches with active nutrition marketing claims include ready meals (up 32%) cereals (up 24%) and snacks (up 22%).

Examples highlighted included protein pancake mixes launched in Australia, Protein Gusto cheese soup from the US and protein smoothies with raspberry and chocolate in Finland – which also tapped into the trend for products targeting active consumers also playing to indulgence demands.

Plant protein power

In terms of market positioning, 71% of products launched featuring sports-related claims last year emphasised protein power. Meanwhile 37% were positioned from a gluten free perspective, 26% for recovery, 25% high fibre and 23% no additives/preservatives.

The last year was also characterised by a surge in plant protein-based products, which increased by 17% in 2016, according to the numbers crunched by Innova Market Insights.

Within this, there was a 65% rise in sport nutrition launches featuring pea protein, a 43% jump in rice protein and a 25% increase in soy protein.

The overall sports nutrition market saw the sports bar format achieve the biggest growth globally in 2016, up 17%. Sports powder launches increased by 12% and ready-to-drink goods by 11%.

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