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The Sports Nutrition Industry is Booming in Europe

The sports nutrition industry is booming in Europe, with figures from Euromonitor showing Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the biggest sports nutrition markets in terms of per capita consumption.

Mintel data indicates women are a key target group as female sports nutrition users grow in number and finished products still cater mostly to men. Manufacturers are moving away from weight management products in favour of sports nutrition products for women, and this trend is likely to continue.

Protein is the top performing ingredient, popular thanks to its sustained media support, with brands in every sector aiming to capitalise on the protein boom. This is leading to a blurring of the lines between traditional sports nutrition products and trendy high protein food; as Mintel data shows 45 percent of consumers believe it is important to increase protein intake when exercising regularly, users are no longer relying solely on sports nutrition products for their protein intake. Manufacturers and retailers making protein claims need to demonstrate there is a significant amount of protein present, or the claim would be misleading. To say ‘high in protein’, the product should provide at least 20 percent of its calories from protein. There is an approved list of nutrition claims detailing the approved claim wording and the conditions of use in each case. As consumers are offered a greater choice of protein products from sports nutrition products and food items, it is likely consumers will cease differentiating between the two, particularly as the clean label trend develops and consumers view protein itself as a food ingredient.

Mintel data also shows 72 percent of sports nutrition consumers would like to see an industry-wide certification to ensure the quality of the ingredients. There is a high level of scrutiny among consumers, highlighting the need for transparency in this sector. Research highlights the importance of good manufacturing practices (GMPs), ingredient and finished product testing, and independent certification of supplements. While the vast majority of manufacturers are committed to quality and safety, a small number of outliers continue to develop and market products containing potentially harmful ingredients; this presents a great opportunity for reputable companies to showcase their products’ quality and safety through certification.

Personalised nutrition is a mega-trend for the wider industry, and has a natural focus on sports nutrition as athletic individuals select the best products for their personal performance. In the long-term, developments in nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics give rise to the possibility of highly personalised ingredient recommendations, with the industry looking to tailor products to individual requirements. This can be seen in the substantial variation between individuals following caffeine ingestion in sport—although some studies have reported a positive influence of physical performance, it is also an established fact caffeine has many undesirable side effects. There is strong interest in finding natural alternatives to replace caffeine—ingredients which could offer the positive performance boosts of caffeine without its negative side effects.

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