President and founder of HealthyMarketingTeam Peter Wennstrom likened some larger players to dinosaurs having their heels nipped at by smaller, faster, more dangerous mammals.
“Many companies are struggling to understand the new paradigm – business channels have changed, technology has changed, markets have split – what worked three years ago is near irrelevant today.”
Another analyst cited examples of big brand botching of start-up buy-outs with one big cereal player giving an acquisition full freedom after an integration attempt bombed.
“The market is fragmenting in ways few understand fuelled by technological change. It’s a very interesting time for the nutrition sector.”
Many said the thrust of start-ups were invigorating a market stifled in recent years by strict marketing regulations and a flat economy.
But others said a place remained for the clout of bigger players that could behave nimbly.
Roel va Dam, sales manager at healthy bar specialist in the Netherlands, VSI, said start-ups were driving innovation in his category, with sports bars leading the way in protein and other forms.
Venture capitalists were seen roaming the aisles seeking investment in SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises) in both ingredients and brands across the sector.