Bulking up: European sports nutrition markets condensed

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

'Continental Europe on the other hand tends to have its own internal influences and therefore consumer trends take longer to become saturated.'  ©iStock
'Continental Europe on the other hand tends to have its own internal influences and therefore consumer trends take longer to become saturated.' ©iStock

Related tags Sports nutrition European union Europe Uk European specialist sports nutrition alliance

Western and eastern European sports nutrition markets are growing at about 12% annually, but will settle down to 8% growth by 2019, according to Euromonitor International data.

The market is worth about €2bn but Euromonitor’s version excludes mainstream sports and energy drinks like Gatorade and Red Bull and low-protein bars and those not positioned as sports products. Powders, RTD [ready to drink] protein drinks, specialist bars and carbohydrate products are the core of its estimates.

The UK (€743m) dwarfs the next biggest market which is the whole of eastern Europe (€255m). Next is Germany (€219m), Italy (€142m), Sweden (€137m) and France (€110m). But Sweden has the highest per-head spend at €15, compared to €10 per capita in the UK.

On the UK market dominance, recent Mintel research found one in four Brits had consumed a sports nutrition product in the past three months; 42% of men aged 16-24. 47% of those that used them said sports nutrition products were part of their everyday lives.

weight loss gym fitness sport protein whey iStock.com Lecic
The biggest single segment is protein powder in Europe. ©iStock/Lecic

"The category is increasingly attracting ‘lifestyle’ users who see these products fitting in with a healthy, active lifestyle,"​ said Emma Clifford, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

"Fueling the shift towards the mainstream use is the growing availability and visibility of accessible snacks and drinks from sports nutrition brands.”

The Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) recorded a 498% increase in food and drinks with protein claims between 2010 and 2015.

Casting back to Europe, the biggest single segment is protein powder, valued at €908m this year and expected to pack on another €400m by 2019 to be worth about €1.3bn. By then the whole sports nutriton category will be worth twice that.

By Euromonitor’s categorisation, ‘non-protein products’ like amino acids, carbs, creatine, L-carnitine and nitric oxide was the next biggest class at about €630m in eastern and western Europe. Non-protein bars came in at about €300m in 2016 and sports protein RTD registered about €170m – almost exclusively in western Europe.

In western Europe, non-protein products would grow the fastest until 2019 – at almost 11% per year.

The UK: Europe’s sports nutrition behemoth

Why is the UK sports nutrition market outplaying the rest of Europe? EuroMonitor researcher Karla Rendle explains:

UK Britsih

“When we compare sports nutrition market sizes across Europe it is clear that the UK is miles ahead in terms of development and saturation. Firstly, this is because the UK tends to be highly influenced by consumer trends coming directly from the US.

“A developed culture for social media and digital engagement is part of the trend, with sports nutrition being boosted by blogs, social media accounts and celebrity endorsements.

“Continental Europe on the other hand tends to have its own internal influences and therefore consumer trends take longer to become saturated.  

“Secondly distribution also plays an important role as UK consumers are more accustomed to shopping online, something that has been key in the growth of sports nutrition.

“Mainstream consumer channels in the UK such as supermarkets and beauty and personal specialists have been quicker to adapt to the demand for sports and wellness products, whilst in Europe the traditional pharmacy remains the key point of purchase for consumers health needs.

Karla Rendle

“Therefore it has been quicker for UK consumers to view sports nutrition as mainstream product for everyday use, while much of Europe lags behind with perception that it is a product for serious athletes and body builders.

“However there are some exceptions – Sweden is the third largest European market for sports nutrition and has a highly developed culture for fitness and sports nutrition, showing a per capita consumption of €15, higher than the €10 EUR per capita seen In the UK.”



Karla Rendle will share these and other insights at the NutraIngredients and European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) sports nutrition conference to held in Frankfurt on 28 November the day before Health Ingredients Europe​.

More information here​.

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