Protein is undeniably the biggest food and beverage trend of the past two decades, radically transforming the face of the industry. From a background of traditional sports nutrition where protein powders were the delivery format of choice, the sector has evolved into a convenience-led and innovation-driven segment that today is more about fitting in with consumers’ busy lifestyles, and where protein is now associated with general wellbeing.
So where does this leave the sports nutrition segment, and the realm of protein-fortified foods in general? FoodBev spoke with Lindsey Ormond, nutrition expert and owner of LO Health Solutions, to find out where the industry stands today.
with Lindsey Ormond
What are your thoughts on how sports nutrition has grown and how it has changed?
Sports nutrition hasn’t just grown but evolved. While the original core consumer is still a key part of the true sports nutrition market, the newer consumer base has been key to sports nutrition’s success. This evolution has brought in new types of consumers, their needs and different product types. This wider category, often termed ‘active nutrition’, comes in the form of other product formats, such as Bounce balls, protein water, confectionery-style protein bars and raw bars, not to mention other flavour options. The needs of these consumers are more holistic than just muscle building, including enhanced satiety, weight management, blood glucose control, faster muscle recovery and better performance. Developments in ingredients, allowing for higher-quality, better-tasting products in new formats, has also been key in facilitating new products providing the nutrients consumers are looking for in great tasting formats.
What do you think is helping to drive growth?
Three key reasons the sports nutrition market has seen the growth it has are:
What are the main trends in sports nutrition right now?
Protein is king and the bulk of the sports nutrition industry. But lower protein levels than what sports nutrition traditionally provided, such as 10-20g, as opposed to 40-50g, gives consumers what they want without compromising on taste.
There’s also greater product variety, including wider flavour profiles and product formats; natural ingredients, from proteins, to flavours and fibres; reduced sugar; and high-quality proteins, meaning consumers get more ‘bang for their buck’ with lower amounts of protein versus lower quality proteins.
And where is the sports nutrition market headed?
From a product perspective, high-quality products which satisfy both consumer needs in great-tasting formats will continue to win and protein-rich products will be a key part of this. Protein’s wider benefits will also become increasingly recognised by a wider consumer group, such as older consumers.
On a higher level, as is happening across numerous industries, the environmental and social impact of products (from packaging, to their ingredients), alongside transparency around these, can provide an incentive for some consumers to pick up one product over another.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018