TSI, based in Missoula, MT, markets a number of branded ingredients targeted at bone and joint health, circulation support and other conditions. Peak ATP and its stable mate, Beta ATP, are targeted at the energy/recovery/sports nutrition end of the market. It’s a market that is primed for growth and is readily accepting of new products, formulations and delivery modes such as bars, smoothies and others, said CEO Larry Kolb.
“It’s definitely an area that is ripe for innovation,” Kolb told NutraIngredients-USA.
But Kolb said that the sports nutrition sphere has its own characteristics, and stands apart to some degree from the rest of the market and can’t be gauged with the same yardsticks. It is a market where there has been a lot of sales driven by glitzy packaging, heavy marketing and celebrity athlete tie-ins. There has been less emphasis on the science behind the products purported benefits, in his opinion.
“There is a little bit of separation of this market from mainstream supplement companies,” Kolb said. “The sports companies tend to operate on a different plane. The sector really has been driven by a kind of innovation, but I think there is a real opportunity there because there is a real lack of true science. There are a lot of widely used ingredients that show up in product after product that don’t have science backing.”
Lots of innovation, but where's the science?
Kolb said some of this has to do with the history of the sector. Many sports nutrition product lines had their start in hard core gyms, and that whole mindset has a focus on the new, he said.
“They are typically born from the bodybuilding sector and that sector is driven almost along the lines of the fashion industry. What is the next new formula that is going to give me an edge, that will help me in the next competition? There is a continual churn. And therein lies the opportunity for companies like TSI and other raw material suppliers that are throwing resources at science,” he said.
Kolb said two studies in 2013 and another in 2012 help back Peak ATP’s benefits in boosting performance and aiding in recovery. In addition to supporting the ingredient’s use in sports nutrition products, it could also aid its uptake in a growing category of the energy sector, where Kolb said he’s starting to see a backlash against the use of caffeine in functional foods and beverages
“I see certain trends in the energy sector. I think there is now an awareness that when companies say ‘energy,’ that that is the equivalent of caffeine. There is an addiction in this country to stimulants, whether it is a Starbucks coffee or the caffeine in 5 Hour energy,” Kolb said.
“I do see energy products now that are being marketed more an more as non caffeinated or caffeine-free. Is that a long term growth area for functional foods and beverages? I don’t know. But the story we tell with Peak ATP is that ATP is really the body’s energy currency. It is helping your body maintain its ATP pools through rigorous workouts,” he said.
NutraIngredients-USA will be hosting two online events on the Sports Nutrition sector in late September and the beginning of October. The first will focus on the science backing of the ingredients while the second will look at market developments. More details will be available shortly.