What’s driving sports nutrition segmentation?

By Danielle Masterson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images

Related tags: Sports nutrition, Clean label, plant based, personalized health

A new report out by Innova Market Insights has identified several new trends that are driving sports nutrition.

Younger consumers remain the primary consumer base for sports nutrition products. Gen Z and Millennials prefer products  that meet their individual needs, resulting in further segmentation of the sports category. Suppliers are now segmenting their offerings to meet specific benefits related to performance, endurance and energy. Ingredients for alternative needs such as CBD, adaptogens and nootropics are also growing. 

The report pointed out three strong development trends that are driving the segmentation of sports nutrition: clean label innovation; greater personalization; and plant-based products.

Clean label innovation

According to the report, about one-third of launches in 2019 carried clean label claims. That's up from 20% in 2015. 

As consumers demand more transparency, companies are increasingly under pressure to improve the health profiles of their products. Many companies are opting for various clean label and quality certifications. 

The Clean Label Project is a nonprofit organization that focuses on health and transparency for product labeling to help empower consumers. They test for more than 130 harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins like arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, antibiotics, BPA/BPS and pesticides. They also analyze ingredient quality to identify America’s best-selling consumer products and publish those results as product ratings on their website.

Jackie Bowen, the executive director of Clean Label Project, told NutraIngredients-USA, “Consumers are increasingly concerned about what they put in and on their body and provide for themselves and their family. Media and academic reports drawing attention to issues like glyphosate residues in America's best-selling beer and wine, arsenic in America's best selling bottled waters, and lead in prenatal vitamins fuels consumers' awareness of industrial and environmental contaminants in the supply chain. This is especially true and relevant when it comes to the products marketed to pregnant women, infants, and children. Clean Label Project certification serves to prove that these brands are going above and beyond what's required by federal law.”

Bowen said Clean Label Project works with a variety of brands across a wide range of products. In the supplement space, they’ve partnered with Smartypants Vitamins, Wicked Protein, Puori and Enzymedica, to name a few. 

Greater personalization

Emerging technology has allowed personalized nutrition to use individual-specific information to promote dietary behavior change that may result in measurable health benefits.

A new report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics​, “Advancements in Personalized Nutrition Technologies: Guiding Principles for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists”​ depicts how individualized data can be applied in nutrition.

The report explains how dietitians are preparing to leverage powerful new science on their patients’ individual genetic, metabolic and other physiological and behavioral characteristics to enhance nutrition care. 

Michelle Ricker, RD is a DNA-based nutritionist who has a background in nutrigenomics, wearable devices and other areas of personalized nutrition. Ricker told NutraIngredients-USA​ that with digital health front and center, right now presents a major opportunity for personalized health. “Cooronavirus and sheltering in place is keeping people home, so the only way you can interact is with technology. So I feel like this could be a huge boost for that space, if done right. It could be a pretty big jumpoff point for technology, especially in the health space.”

Plant-based products

With products like sports bars using more botanical ingredients, plant-based protein is gaining traction in the sports nutrition arena. 

The report highlighted that demand is up for plant-based foods in all areas of food and drink, with sports nutrition quickly catching on to the trend. 

Pea protein is the key player in this segment, used in 32% of plant-based launches in 2019. 

A Global Market Insights report indicated that growth of the pea protein market is driven by a shift toward vegetarian diets and increasing prevalence of livestock diseases. With shifting dietary practices and adoption of natural and high protein ingredients, the pea protein market should see a jump. 

Pea protein is an appealing option because it is non-genetically altered, a rich source of amino acids, low in calories, as well as lactose and allergen-free. Pea proteins are easily extracted and manufactured naturally without adding chemicals or additives. 

Global Market Insights predicts the overall pea protein market will surpass $285 million by 2026.

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