A survey of 2,000 internet users aged over 16 revealed that over two in five (42%) UK consumers aged 16-24 have consumed sports nutrition products in the past three months, as have three in 10 (31%) of those with a household income of over £50,000 (€58,400).
These two groups were also the keenest exercisers.
While 50% of Brits say they exercise for 30 minutes more than once a week, this rose to 64% for those aged 16-24 and 63% of those with a household income of over £50,000.
High earners were more likely to consume all the product types Mintel quizzed them on, compared to the average for all respondents.
Over the last three months, 15% of the high earners had consumed protein bars and protein powders for drinking, compared to the total average of 9% for all respondents.
For energy bars this stood at 12% compared to the 8% average; supplement capsules and sachets for sport like vitamins, minerals and stimulants 12% compared to 8%; energy gels 11% compared to 6% and for ready-to-drink protein drinks 9% compared to 5%.
So what can manufacturers do to keep up with this group’s sports nutrition pace?
Senior food and drink analyst at Mintel Emma Clifford told us ‘all-natural ingredients’ held the most appeal for high-earners, and there was scope to further develop this concept within sports nutrition.
79% of adults from these households agreed sports nutrition products with all-natural ingredients appealed to them, compared to the average of 71%.
Just be natural
“This is in line with higher-earners placing most importance of naturalness/being free from additives and preservatives overall when they are looking for healthy food.
“43% of people with a household income of over £50,000 place this as an important factor, rising to 48% of those with a household income of over £75,000, compared to the average of 38%,” she told us, citing Mintel’s 2016 UK report ‘Attitudes towards Healthy Eating’.
She said so-called ‘superfood ingredients’ held particular appeal for high earners, and again there was more scope for the inclusion of these ingredients
in protein and energy bars.
Some UK brands were already tapping into this trend.
Clifford pointed to USN’s Nature’s Energy Bar, which launched in March 2016, as well as High5’s goji berries, chia seeds and Brazil nuts protein bar, ProteinSnack, launched early this year.
Price was not a particular issue for this group, with 41% deeming it worthwhile paying more for 'highly nutritious' food compared to just 33% of consumers overall.
UK market snapshot
Mintel’s research affirmed that the sports nutrition market had broadened its appeal from body builders and athletes to weekend warriors and casual gym-goers.
The survey found one in four (24%) Brits had consumed a sports nutrition product in the past three months, rising to 42% for men aged 16-24.
UK consumers spent £66m (€77.15m) on sports nutrition food and drink products in 2015, up by 27% from 2013 sales of £52m (€60.82m).
Mintel said these products had become store-cupboard staples, with 47% of these ‘users’ saying the products are part of their everyday diet.