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Growing opportunity for natural ingredients in sports nutrition

Article-Growing opportunity for natural ingredients in sports nutrition

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Winning in the sports nutrition market through natural and scientific intersection.

Bodybuilders and athletes were once the only demographic interested in sports nutrition; today, the market has managed to disassociate from doping scandals and caricatured images of bodybuilding. Today, the general population is more concerned about personal wellbeing and acknowledge the fundamental role of nutrition and fitness in leading healthy lifestyles. According to a 2018 Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) report, 30% of consumers worldwide who eat a sports diet do not exercise regularly (Bord Bia, 2018). By looking at the figures, we can better understand what is at stake in this market.

The global sports nutrition market is dynamic—with an estimated worth of $42 billion in 2022 against $23 billion in 2015 according to market studies. With a CAGR of 8.4% between 2015 and 2022, it is one of the strongest markets in the world of nutraceuticals. The United States remains the historical leader (holding 30% of global sales), with the United Kingdom market growing and currently standing as the European market leader pre-Brexit. France, where Nutrikéo is based, represents a small market but has high potential with 43% growth forecast by 2021.1

Greater consumer investment in sports nutrition stems from an identity revolution and repositioning to appeal to a larger customer base of people looking for weight management and holistic wellbeing solutions, as well as improved athletic performance. Many industry players are adopting 'active nutrition' messaging to target a wider range of people, millennia old and active. Sports nutrition makes it possible to maintain an accessible and modern image, while democratising the approach to health.

For others, entering this market is a way of reinventing themselves and broadening their offer. Sports nutrition products are slowly emerging from powders and shakes. New formats have been identified as a way to make the products more attractive to ordinary athletes, offering them performance nutrition targeted to their needs and lifestyle. However, powdered beverages and meal replacements are still at the heart of sports nutrition.

Finally, the sports nutrition market implies having technical capabilities, which contributes to the overall image of the company or brand. In this game, ingredient suppliers are the most present. Thanks to their research and development, they play a major role in the renewal of the sector. Indeed, the market is undergoing a technical evolution, to meet the need for quality, efficiency and respect for the body.

Consumers are looking for practical solutions that bring efficiency, transparency and integrity. Between 2015 and 2019, North American launches with a 35% increase in natural claims (Mintel, 2019). Fruit is the first ingredient that consumers would like to see more of in sports supplements. And 65% of recreational users and 74% of athletes would prefer 100% natural sports supplements (Bord Bia, 2018).

Regarding to expectations in terms of naturalness and clean label, we tend to popularise the market and sometimes move away from the technical aspect. It is nevertheless necessary to have strong and reassuring arguments on seriousness and effectiveness, which is still lacking in the world of sports nutrition.

To meet these challenges, key players are repositioning themselves. This is the case of Robertet, which have developed Melorun®, a 100% natural & organic ingredient effective for moderate and intense physical training. 

Experts in this space continue to learn lessons about being a market innovator, and delivering solutions that combine natural ingredients with science appealing to the food, nutraceutical and broader health sectors. The sports nutrition market is flexible and can accommodate new segments, such as the recently-added 'lifestyle' segment. Even those who were not immediately connected to the sports nutrition market can extend their range to this vertical by offering combination products, and thus attract new consumers.


1. Foodbev Media, Three in ten Brits now use sports nutrition products, study says, juillet 2017

TAGS: Ingredients