• Three Ways to Deliver On-Trend Sports Nutrition

    By Shannon Koski August 25, 2017

    sports2.jpgSports nutrition products continue their momentum as more mainstream consumers buy into the category. In the last five years (2011-2016), global sports nutrition product launches had a 10.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).1 As more products enter the market, U.S. dairy proteins are helping manufacturers differentiate their products from others in the sports nutrition category.

    Sports nutrition has been around for a long time, so why is the category seeing growth now? Active consumers are beginning to see the value of sports nutrition, something that seasoned athletes have known for years. Mainstream consumers’ increasing interest in healthy and fit lifestyles has altered how and why sports nutrition products are consumed. Social media has made it easier than ever for companies and consumers to spread the word about their favorite products and activities.

    Protein is a focus for consumers interested in healthy and fit lifestyles. Sports nutrition product launches with a protein claim increased by 25.4% in 2016.2 This is where U.S. dairy can help. Dairy proteins play an important role in helping brands introduce products that resonate with the sports nutrition audience.

    The themes below, as well as dairy protein capabilities, successfully merge the needs of traditional sports nutrition consumers with new-found fitness enthusiasts.

    Clean Label Applies to Sports Nutrition, too

    Sports nutrition is no exception to the clean label movement. Consumers want clean nutrition that can improve their athletic performance and sustain their health. What classifies products as clean label? Essentially, ingredients that are easily recognized and free from artificial colors and flavors. These labels are possible with dairy proteins.

    Protein powders hold approximately 47% share of the overall sports nutrition category.1 This popularity puts powders at the forefront of clean label innovation. For example, one brand introduced a protein powder that uses whey protein isolate and milk protein to achieve 24 grams of protein in its product. The product’s clean label attracts attention from consumers by highlighting no added sugars and is gluten- and soy-free.

    Beyond Exercise Recovery and Enhancement

    Unlike athletes who use nutrition specifically for exercise recovery and enhancement, mainstream consumers are looking for more. Protein is perfect for this as it’s associated with reducing appetite, increasing strength, enhancing recovery and slowing age-related muscle loss. This gives sports nutrition manufacturers multiple areas to tout on their product labels, including weight management, satiety, sustained energy, seniors and exercise recovery.

    This level of personalization is made easy with dairy proteins that contain all the essential and nonessential amino acids. Whey proteins, specifically, have branched-chain amino acids, such as leucine. They score higher on the protein digestibility corrected amino acid and the digestible indispensable amino acid scores compared with alternative protein sources for their amino acids and fast absorption rate.

    On-The-Go Options for Active Hobbyists

    Mainstream sports nutrition consumers and fitness gurus alike live a busy and always-moving lifestyle. In five years (2011-2016), global tracked sports bar launches grew 11.2% CAGR and ready-to-drink protein-based sports drinks, 11.5%.3,4 In just one year (2015-2016), sports nutrition products with a snacking claim increased by 17%.2 So not only do consumers look for nutritional benefits, but they need convenience as well. To accommodate their on-the-go needs, more ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages and portable snacks, such as bars and breakfast items, are being introduced to the market. These benefit consumers looking for daily, easy-to-eat fitness and health support.

    This broader sports nutrition audience is asking a lot of the products they buy — they want clean labels, nutritional and fitness-related benefits, and convenience. Sports nutrition brands are stepping up to the plate, evolving to meet these needs along with the needs of athletes, while outside companies are breaking into the category trying to grab a piece of the growth. Differentiation is key, so no matter what you are currently serving, find a dairy supplier to start innovating your next sports nutrition product with high-quality protein.

    1Innova Market Insights. Sports Nutrition. Category Report H2 2016. June 2017.
    2Innova Market Insights. Body in Tune: How Consumer Demand For Healthier Food Impacts Protein Use in Goods & Beverages. May 24, 2017.
    3Innova Market Insights. Sports Drinks RTD. Sub-Category Report H2 2016. June 2017.
    4Innova Market Insights. Sports Bars. Sub-Category Report H2 2016. July 2017.

    Consumer Insights Global Whey Protein Isolate Weight Management Milk Protein Whey Protein Sports Nutrition Healthy Aging
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