Global report highlights 'the big three' in sports nutrition

FrieslandCampina Ingredients and FMCG Gurus have made trend conclusions from several years of research and a global survey of over 26,000 active adults

A new global report has highlighted three distinct trends in the growing performance nutrition market, which will help sports nutrition brand owners and formulators develop products for a rapidly changing consumer audience.

The collaboration between FrieslandCampina Ingredients, the global innovator in healthy and functional ingredients, and the consumer insights and marketresearch experts, FMCG Gurus, outlines “conveniently nutritious”, “nutrition for me” and “engaging females” as the key topics for 2020 and beyond.

These insights are the result of several years of research by FrieslandCampina Ingredients and FMCG Gurus, including a global survey of over 26,000 active adults.

Conveniently nutritious

One in four of the consumers surveyed feel restricted from leading a healthier lifestyle as they regularly eat and drink out-of-home. As such, they are making improvements to their diets and snacking habits to compensate.

67% choose to consume protein snack bars on-the-go, while 51% have made a conscious effort to substitute traditional snacks, such as chocolate, for high-protein/low-sugar alternatives.

With convenience as a powerful motivator, drinks shots are also a growing area of interest for both professional and committed amateur athletes.

“Timing is everything for athletes and serious gym-goers – the right nutrition needs to be carefully aligned to their workouts to reap the most benefits and provide the right boost at the right time. There is an opportunity to develop functional snacks that aid preparation before exercise, power during it, and recovery afterwards - and that fit into everyday life,” said Vicky Davies, Global Marketing Director, Performance and Active Nutrition at FrieslandCampina Ingredients.

Nutrition for me

Consumers are increasingly taking nutrition into their own hands, proactively seeking information not only from conventional sources, such as medical professionals, but also personal trainers and gym instructors (45%), and friends and family (53%). Similarly, they are educating themselves about the different ingredients that will benefit them personally, and have clear views about the formats they prefer.

“We have identified that active consumers are taking a much bigger role in shaping their nutritional habits to suit their unique health and wellness goals. They are more astute than ever, showing that there is growing demand for tailored better-for-you products that address wide-ranging physical and cognitive health benefits. Both of these are increasingly recognised as important in the performance nutrition sector,” added Mike Hughes, Head of Research and Insight at FMCG Gurus.

Engaging females

“Nutrition for me” is being observed on a broad scale, with women now being seen as a clear and distinctive market in their own right. Women account for an increasing proportion of the performance nutrition market, but are lacking products tailored to them, according to the report.

63% have looked to improve their general health and wellness over the last two years, while 41% have attempted to improve their diet.

The priorities of this group are also shifting from purely weight management to improving strength (37%), increasing lean muscle mass market (32%) and boosting cognitive health (41%).

“Men no longer dominate the market for performance nutrition products, but formulations, brands and positioning have not yet caught up with these changes, continued Davies. “’Pinking and shrinking’ just doesn’t cut it any more. Women are less interested in traditional health claims like ‘energy boosting’, instead preferring more ‘natural’ products than male athletes. This is a huge, largely untapped market,” continues Davies.

Shifting NPD focus

“Although there are clear themes across the globe, this research also highlights the unique differences between regions, genders and ages. For example in Asia and China, our sample group was least satisfied with its muscle mass, whereas in the US, strength was the biggest area of discontent,” Hughes explained.

“41% of women have tried to lose weight in the past two years, but only 31% of men. Having detailed insight like this allows formulators to create more specialised performance nutrition offerings to meet local consumers’ needs,” Hughes concludes.

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