Strongly outpacing other major consumer health categories, sports nutrition broke the US$10 billion retail value sales mark in 2014. As it continues to clean up its once rogue image, interest is growing among companies from across the consumer packaged goods landscape. The inflow of resources is expected to help the category push beyond its current infrastructure barriers and capture more mass consumer attention, establishing sports nutrition as a true consumer health growth engine.
Unlike many packaged food and other consumer packaged goods industries, sport nutrition is witnessing strong growth rates across a wide spectrum of markets, including some of the most mature consumer markets in the world. The prospect of growth in stable, business-friendly markets is a major draw for investors.
The rise of protein as a super-nutrient, fuelled as much by the popular press as pharmacists and practitioners, and the growing urgency around increased activity and fitness to stave off lifestyle diseases are opening the minds of mainstream consumers. For their part, a growing number of producers are capitalising on the opportunity by reformulating and repackaging sports nutrition to appeal to less sophisticated consumers and retailers alike.
Protein products account for the vast majority of sports nutrition sales. While ingredient preferences vary by market, in general, protein has benefited from its food-like character and has established itself as the category’s most ubiquitous ingredient.
Non-protein products, led by combination pre-workout products, are a mainstay for the category’s core users. However, a history of dubious suppliers, unfamiliar ingredients and a hyperbolic claims arms race have combined to alienate mass consumers. Given the solid scientific standing many of the key ingredients enjoy, the category would seem to have strong potential if producers are willing to embrace more mass-friendly marketing.
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