The sports nutrition and active lifestyle industry continues to be a vibrant epicentre of innovation and new product development. Global populations are becoming more health conscious and this shows no sign of slowing. As a result of healthier lifestyles, people are living for longer. According to UN statistics, the global population of people aged 60 and over is expected to reach 2.1 billion by 2050. This health movement is forcing brands and manufacturers to push boundaries, respond with creativity and appeal in a busy marketplace resulting in a hugely diverse and ever-changing market driven by trends and ultimately, consumer demand.
The latest advances in the sports nutrition and active lifestyle industries are often analysed by taking a more in-depth look at the trends behind the changes, starting with a large area commonly coined ‘the blurring of the lines between sectors’. This trend describes how the food, health, and supplemental categories are beginning to cross over with hybrids that straddle multiple sectors appearing on an almost daily basis.
The sports nutrition bar and confectionary snack bar market is great example of how worlds are colliding. Both industries are utilising approaches and styles from one another to meet in the middle to develop a product that targets multiple markets. Mars, Snickers and Bounty have all seen variants released with protein claims on pack in the last 12 months helping them to bridge the gap between indulgence and functionality. Conversely, the sports brands Grenade, PhD, and Sci-MX have launched multi-texture and layered bars that move them towards indulgent confectionary with added benefits.
A functional food is one that provides health benefits beyond the nutritionals provided by the food alone. These products provide a convenient way for consumers to boost health on the go and have been well-received, with Euromonitor reporting that the European market for fortified and functional foods was worth €38 billion in 2016.
Foods such as noodles, bars, muffins and biscuits have been revamped and given a new lease of life by adding functional actives such as protein, vitamin D for bone health, or omega 3 for brain function.
The development of nutritional cookies is another perfect example of the blurring lines between sport and active lifestyle. These indulgent treats—that have been a staple of the bakery section and loved by children and adults alike for many years—are now being reborn with functionality and purpose. It would seem these ‘treats’ are being launched by sport and supplement companies as an indulgent alternative with health claims, on an almost daily basis. Initially centred on macronutrient trends with protein and fibre, these products have turned into more complex varieties providing joint support, thermogenic, and even claiming to help support weight loss.
Going forward, it is predicted the sport and active lifestyle sector will show no sign of slowing with continued growth in clean label, free from, sustainability and plant-based. Couple this with the merging into mainstream trend, and we have a recipe for unfounded numbers of product launches. We expect exciting innovation within new product development from brands across the market with diversity at its heart.