Women, protein blends, and the ‘anti-wasting’ market are all areas of significant opportunity in sports nutrition, says Jeff Hilton, co-founder and CMO of BrandHive.
According to a 2013 report by market researcher Packaged Facts , the two main categories in the US sports nutrition sector are nutrition bars (energy, diet, sports, high-carb, high-protein, low-calorie and balanced nutrition bars) and sports drinks, said the report.
People participating in yoga as well as those pursuing outdoor activities such as mountain biking and hiking now outnumber players of soccer, football, softball, baseball or volleyball, according to market data, and a key demographic among these is women.
Speaking with Stephen Daniells at the recent IFT show in New Orleans, Hilton said: “Women are increasingly looking to augment performance. They want products suited to their particular needs, and don’t want to jump on the coattails of a male-oriented products, and marketers need to think about that.”
The big ingredient segment has been protein, which has experienced booming growth in recent years, and it’s not over yet, said Hilton.
“I don’t think protein has peaked,” he said. “Protein is consumer-friendly and I think it has been reinvigorated by vegetarian protein. Protein blends are the real trend now, using multiple proteins for different reasons.”
Sarcopenia (degenerative muscle loss) is an area of opportunity, said Hilton. Muscle loss is a natural part of aging, and researchers have estimated that, after the age of 50, we lose 1-2% of our muscles each year. Strength declines as well, at a rate of 1.5% per year beginning at 50 years and accelerating to 3% after the age of 60.
According to a monograph from the US Dairy Export Council, the direct health care cost attributable to sarcopenia were estimated to be $18.5 billion in 2000 in the US, a number that represented about 1.5% of health care expenditures for that year.
Despite the potential for products in this segment, the market is currently under-served, he said. “You have products like Ensure, but I still think there is plenty more opportunity in that anti-wasting market.”