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Challenges for Sports Nutrition Products

As research evolves on performance nutrition, new active ingredients and the specific roles of these ingredients are being discovered every day.

by Pierre Miclette

. One thing is sure, the complexity of nutrition and its role in performance is not getting any simpler. Rather, it is becoming increasingly complex and more scientific, heading down the path of cell nutrition, genetics and biochemistry. All this is being carried out in favour of explaining the results obtained with athletes and adapting those findings to the mainstream market.

Products emerging in the future will follow the same path and will undoubtedly be more and more complex. We will continue to see health platforms emerge focusing on even more specific organs and functions. Brain health, circulatory health, immunity, eye health and digestive well-being will emerge as important elements in conceptualising new functional products, as they are of vital significance to the changing demographic landscape in every part of the world.

Consumers are also more demanding than ever - educated and informed, they want to understand the product. The biggest challenge the industry will have to face is providing the public with tools to understand the science and scientific evidence on which performance nutrition is based. Concise descriptions and marketing claims may be fine for some consumers, but others will require a lot more. This latter category is also fast expanding, and the industry will have to find ways to better communicate more information.

Regulations represent the other big challenge the industry currently faces, in particular the regulations in Europe. There are two main issues with the current regulations in Europe:

1)   The application of European rules that vary from one country to the other, making it quite impossible to create a ‘European’ beverage suitable for all EU member states;

2)   The regulation of sweeteners in Europe is a real challenge. There are very few options available in Europe which can be used to produce an alternate product not based on sugar. The use of stevia is quite limited, monk fruit is not yet approved, and other sweeteners are E numbered and labelled which creates a bad image with consumers. One wonders what is the purpose of such regulations, if not to support sugar lobbyists. Why doesn’t sugar have an E number as well? Is sugar really that good for your health? Food for thought…

In America, the non-regulation of various consumer trends is also a challenge The Non-GMO Project, Organic food labels and various ‘company-driven requirements’ have all emerged due to the lack of governance in food regulation, especially with regards to the GMO status of US crops. All these must be managed, and the creation of an international functional beverage is therefore becoming impossible. Wasn’t Coke once considered to be a functional beverage?

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