While at first glance the sports nutrition market and the healthy ageing market may seem worlds apart, the underlying skills needed to understand how to aid the body in recovery means that the two categories are much closer than many may think, says Peter McConville, chief technology officer (CTO) at Lucozade Ribena Suntory.
Speaking to NutraIngredients, McConville suggested that the knowledge and special skills that many in the sports nutrition sector have could also be used in the much larger healthy ageing market – where “it may not be about performance, but it’s definitely about recovery.”
Indeed, in most older people a serious injury from a fall could spell the beginning of the end, he warned.
“The number of risks and fatalities associated with falls and the elderly is because of the inability to recover from them,” said the CTO. “Even from 35 onwards, our muscle tone starts to deteriorate ... by the time you are elderly - say over 70 - you are weak, you have less strength, your mobility is reduced.”
“So if you can keep people physically stronger later in to life then they will have much better health outcomes, for lots and lots of reasons,” he suggested.
“I think the sports nutrition category is really well placed, because of their understanding of what’s going on. The physiology changes slightly, but not tremendously,” said McConville. “They’ve got access to all of the ingredients; they know how to formulate tasty products. So actually, it’s not a leap of faith.”
“I think there is a big piece of opportunity there, and it will happen.”
However, he warned that unlike some sports nutrition products that can be very niche in terms of appeal, such healthy ageing products need to be developed and distributed ‘en masse’.
“And mass is where it’s all going to be, sports nutrition is quite a small market – it’s half of the active people. Whereas, everybody is getting older.”
Better placed than pharma?
McConvilla also suggested that firms in the sports nutrition space are ‘better placed’ to develop mass market nutritional products for the healthy ageing sector than a pharmaceutical company moving down from a drug intervention
“I think it’s well placed so long as they understand that the market is very different to the active users of sports nutrition products,” he warned.
Indeed, many ageing consumers concerned with their health do not want to go to a specialist shop or be ‘blinded’ by lots of complex terms.
“It’s a different brand; it’s a gentle message, which meets their understanding of their needs and how to express it.”
“But in terms of how you how you provide that, the skill sets in formulating and developing, packaging, and the distributing , do sit in the sports nutrition space,” said McConville. “They just need people who can connect with those consumers and provide it in a different format.”