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Addressing sports drinks formulation challenges — podcast

Audio-Addressing sports drinks formulation challenges — podcast

Ready-to-drink sports nutrition drinks offer unique challenges to product formulators, requiring ingredient expertise.

An increase in an active lifestyle among consumers, coupled with interest in healthy, convenient options such as bars and ready-to-drink beverages, are driving sales in the sports nutrition market, according to Allied Analytics. However, there are also multiple challenges to delivering great tasting, efficacious products that meet consumer desires for natural ingredients, plant-based protein, and no chemicals. Ingredient suppliers are going above and beyond to develop unique concepts that can speed product development and market release. In this podcast, sponsored by Laïta Nutrition, you’ll hear more about:

  • Trends impacting the sports nutrition drinks market
  • Constraints around liquid formulation techniques
  • Opportunities in the market, including plant-based product development
  • Insights on how Laïta is poised to help formulators overcome formulation challenges


Gaelle Laita photo edit.png Gaëlle Quillévéré
Products manager, Laïta Nutrition 


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Podcast transcript:

Vitafoods Insights 00:06
Hello and welcome. You've tuned in to Vitafoods Stories Podcast series, the podcast that explores the latest insights and innovations, helping the global health and nutrition industry connect, develop and progress.

Heather 00:18
Well, hello, I'm Heather Granato. And thank you for joining me for this Vitafoods Insights podcast, sponsored by Laïta Nutrition. Today's guest is Gaëlle Quillévéré, Product Manager at Laïta Nutrition, the Health and Nutrition Division of the dairy cooperative. She leads the marketing and communication efforts for the company and manage the sports nutrition project with three new concepts we'll hear about today. Gaëlle, thank you for joining me.

Gaëlle Quillévéré 00:43
Thank you very much for having me.

Heather 00:45
Could you share some context around the sports nutrition market, and particularly the ready to drink or RTD products?

Gaëlle Quillévéré 00:53
Yes, of course, according to 3A Business Consulting the sports nutrition market has grown from six to 10% during the past five years, and is estimated to grow around 7% annually, so around 2025. The market is dominated with protein products and particularly with powder products, more than 50% of the protein products market, and yet some ready to drink product are proposed. Not surprisingly, in North America, we present the most attractive market for sports nutrition. But Europe is the world's second largest market. Consuming consumers athletes and bodybuilders were the main segments driven by performance goals. But we can see the emergence of a new category, the lifestylers. They are seeking access to health and well being so physical activity on diet. They are looking for products that can support them in their sporting activity and their recovery. Sport nutrition is now a category for anyone who likes to move and feel good looks on performs at the best being in the gym, on the court, even in the home office. So where protein products are good opportunity. In fact, ready to drink products are interesting in terms of format. They're pre-packaged, single serve and ready for consumption. Consumers can easily put the beverage in their bag before going outside and drink when and wherever they wish. Ready to drink product provide consumers way to enjoy a drink without having to prepare it. From a generic point of view, they combine both nutrition and satiation, which is a real asset.

Heather 02:39
So what is Laïta's position in this market?

Gaëlle Quillévéré 02:43
Laïta in few figures is a dairy cooperative, which collect 1.5 billion litres of milk annually from 2660 dairy farms all located in western France. The company achieved a turnover of 1.4 euros and its products are exported in over 110 countries. And Laïta nutrition is the Health and Nutrition Division of Laïta for 30 years. Laïta nutrition is specialised in the development and industrialization and manufacturing of high end nutritional products for its b2b customers. Thanks to cutting edge industrial equipment Laïta Nutrition offers a complete range tailored to the specific needs of all areas of the health and nutrition sector. From dietary and sports nutrition to specialised medical and infant nutrition products. Laïta Nutrition can develop unique manufacturing processes, allowing its customers companies to adapt formulas to consumers needs for sports nutrition products, and Laïta Nutrition can produce products in powder form and ready to consume, for instance liquid and texturize options. This year, we have decided to focus on liquid products for the sports markets, because we foresee many opportunities and we have the capabilities to develop these kinds of products. In fact, we have both research and development team specialised in nutrition products and the manufacturing facilities with our UHT process. I say it again we are a private label company serving our customers as an expert in the production of ready to drink products. We feel comfortable to respond to the demands of customers in the sports nutrition market. Any player within this area can come to us with a brief and we can offer turnkey nutritional solutions.

Heather 04:48
So what are the main formulation challenges then for RTD products specifically even around in that plant based segment,

Gaëlle Quillévéré 04:55
The main formulation challenges are clearly first of all, to find the right solutions to guarantee an optimised nutritional profile, then meet consumers needs. Plus, to combine organoleptic qualities and a stable product during the product lifecycle. Indeed, when reaching a lot on proteins profiles, it may impact the stability. We also strictly select the raw materials of our products to provide our customers with the most adapted ones. On top of that, we do master specific products, particularly the UHT technology for ready to drink products. Our goal is also to offer a product with a good taste with a long shelf life and of course with the expected health benefits. The taste is a great expectation for the lifestyler segments. In fact, the expectations are quite different from athlete and bodybuilders who focus more on nutritional assets and direct performance. While general public and lifestylers are worried about taste, nutritions, ergonomy, promises, and product labelling. So that's why we make every effort to offer delicious concepts. For plant based products and concepts we should work hard on the test because some plant based proteins have a strong aftertaste. As beta test for example. In this case, the challenge is to mask it. When it comes to consumers require plant based products, it's often associated with clean label or sustainability requirements. The ingredients choices, data mining, and the possibilities may be limited, especially considering UHT constraints.

Heather 06:40
So how does Laïta specifically helped meet those challenges you've outlined?

Gaëlle Quillévéré 06:46
How customers benefit from the support of a dedicated research and development team of engineers and technicians. Each engineer is a product leader with a transverse vision and total control over ongoing projects. So project leader is a key link between the various departments of Laïta Nutrition. He helps us that each developments worked smoothly and which is a successful launch in time, while providing regular communication and updates with the customers throughout the project. In addition, he works closely with our purchasing and quality departments from the beginning of the project to provide our customers with the most adapted ingredients and packaging option. From a quality, regulatory and cost efficiency standpoint. We have 30 years of experience in developing and industrialising complex nutritional products, and have our own methodology of development customer oriented in five steps. This methodology provide a customer's response to our customers specification in a desired time for the prestudy to the industry or scale up on the launch report. First, the research and development team is capable to produce prototypes at pilot scales to assess technical feasibility. Various measurement instruments also ensure products are monitored towards development. Then, the industrialization steps allow us to test the formula and optimise the process at industrial scale, and to follow the product from an analytical and organoleptic perspective. Thus ensuring launch in the best condition being monitoring both cost and timeline.

Heather 08:39
So share with us a little bit more insight around your new product concepts which include a plant based protein drink, a pre workout shot and the high milk protein drink.

Gaëlle Quillévéré 08:50
The first one is a plant based high protein drink. The product contains 20 grammes of plant protein which represents 6.7 grammes per 100 ML. This is particularly protein which for this type of plant based formulation. In fact, there are relatively few plant-based alternative with such a high protein content and rich with minerals and vitamins and sugar free. The advantage of plant based protein is a digestibility. In fact, it's easier to digest than dairy protein which can annoy the stomach. So the product is also suits are vitamins B C, and D and source of minerals. It contains only 120 calories per shake. And the product is packaged in a 300 ml bottle a form that is already present on the market and is very popular. The drink is a juice with chocolate and hazelnut flavour but it can be designed in several flavours. So drinks report the energy metabolism and reduces tiredness. It also contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. It's a beverage to drink on the go as a post workout drink. The strategy of this concept is to reach a wider target of customers in particular the lifestylers. The second concept is a pre workout shot with amino acids. With this product we are targeting seasoned sportsmen and women who want to promote muscle growth and improve their performance. This ready to drink 70 ML shot is composed of water and amino acid to ensure optimal performance. For example, Beta Alanine increases muscle mass, caffeine improves concentration and reduces fatigue. While taurine helps muscle contraction and thus improve performance. The shots will be drunk 30 minutes before the training and we are currently working on the flavouring, which we try to position the product to stand out from the quote and bring diversity to sports integers. And the third concept is a high dairy protein drink. In fact Laïta is first and foremost a dairy cooperative. This product offers a high level of protein with 25 grammes per portion. Thanks to the functionalities, milk proteins bring flavour, fluidity, naturalness and performance. And this product is proposed in a 200 ml bottle. To conclude on our concept the ready to drink and with long shelf life thanks to our UHT process. To satisfy everyone's tastes and desires, our strategy is based on customization by offering our formula in a range of flavours according to product. We worked on the organoleptic qualities of our products to make taste and pleasure, a key focus to attract more lifestyle oriented consumers among users.

Heather 12:03
So let's wrap up. Give me a little insight what will be the next challenges for sports nutrition and drinks.

Gaëlle Quillévéré 12:11
So next challenges will be brought by our customers. We don't intend to launch new concepts in addition to the three concept exposed before, but we want to present our expertise and our know how to companies of the nutrition markets. Our goal is also to open the market to new customers and to develop the future innovations. We are very excited to meet these future customers and to participate to this new wave of sports nutrition.

Heather 12:38
Well, again, Gaëlle, thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights and thank you also to our audience for listening to this Vitafoods Insights podcast sponsored by Laïta Nutrition.