In 2021, overall sports nutrition is set to see slower growth than in recent years, due to consumers avoiding going to gyms, and the fact that people have been exercising less intensively. In addition, the continuing effects of COVID-19 and the postponement or cancellation of many major sporting events has had an impact.
Sports protein products is showing high growth despite COVID-19, thanks to consumer progress in understanding the importance of protein intake. Also, the category has succeeded in expanding its consumer base by attracting not only those who are interested in muscle recovery to improve sports performance or gaining weight for bodybuilding, but also light users who are consuming protein for health maintenance and body shaping.
On the other hand, sports non-protein products, many of which are specialised for sporting events and recovery from fatigue, have lost their competitive edge against protein products in situations where the effects of COVID-19 remain, as sporting events have been postponed or cancelled and opportunities for people to engage in playing sports outside have decreased. For example, Amino Vital (Ajinomoto), which contains amino acids and is a representative product in the category, sponsors marathons and usually offers samples of its products, carries out brand awareness activities and runs sales promotions in stores.
Vegan and gluten-free foods are common in Europe and the US, where there is a large population of vegetarians and vegans, but in Japan, there are few vegan-certified and -labelled foods, or gluten-free foods. In the past, Japan was familiar with vegetarian or macrobiotic foods that do not use animal ingredients, but they are often related to health-consciousness, and the fact that gluten-free foods are becoming popular as an effective way to lose weight gives a strong impression that they are for diet and health purposes.
Overall sports nutrition is set to continue to grow in the forecast period, as consumers become more health-conscious and the Tokyo Olympics, held one year late, in July 2021, will increase consumer interest and participation in sports. The growth of sports protein RTD, the main distribution channel for which is convenience stores, slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people reduced their shopping frequency and tended to prioritise one-stop shopping at supermarkets and drugstores over convenience stores.
Sports protein products is expected to see a steady increase in demand in the future. This will be supported by consumers’ growing awareness of health and beauty, and concern amongst more people about muscle weakness during COVID-19 home seclusion, leading to demand for high levels of protein.
As observed in recent years, the entry of foreign brands in sports protein products could become a threat for domestic players. Domestic brands currently account for the majority of value share, but in 2021, for example, PhD Protein from Science in Sport Plc announced that it will enter the Japanese market and begin selling products via e-commerce.
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These nutritional products improve physical endurance, increasing muscle growth/development/mass, or speeding recovery after exercise. Sports nutrition is targeted at serious athletes and gym-goers, and their principal purpose is to build muscle and to boost energy. Sports Nutrition tracks two types of products: Protein and Non-Protein. Sports protein include bars, powder and ready-to-drink (RTD) offerings. Sports Non-Protein include products that do not have protein as its core ingredient. They can be used to repair muscle or as energy/endurance booster. Note: Mainstream sports nutrition products such as sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade) or energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull) are not included here. Energy and sports drinks are tracked in the Soft Drinks system.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Sports Nutrition research and analysis database.
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