Citing Euromonitor’s report ‘World Sports Nutrition + Meal Replacement and Supplement Nutrition Drinks, July 2021’, Glanbia Nutritionals says the sports nutrition market is tipped to grow at a CAGR of 8.7% to 2025. It says this growth is indicative of an 'emerging mega trend' which sees consumers opting for products with active ingredients to support not only physical health but also immunity, sleep and cognitive health.
In support of this, the firm cites recent stats from FMCG Gurus which found that two-thirds of European sports nutrition consumers were looking to improve cognition in the last six months, and that 82% identified ‘improving cognitive health’ as an important factor when seeking out sports nutrition products (‘The Potential of Performance Nutrition in 2021’).
E-gamers drive demand
The rise of e-sports - an industry that has grown exponentially in recent years - is another key driver behind the cognitive health trend, according to Glanbia.
“Professional e-gamers are adopting the same approach to nutrition as traditional athletes, with more focus on improving mental performance. This includes alertness, focus, mental agility, reaction times and energy or anti-fatigue. Recently the trend has shifted towards eye health and sleep recovery,” Mayuresh Bedekar, Product Strategy Director for Bioactives at Glanbia, told Nutraingredients.
Glanbia has also observed immune health spilling over into sports nutrition on the back of COVID-19; the same FMCG Gurus report backs this up, with the finding that 58% of European consumers are looking for immunity-boosting claims on sports nutrition products.
Bioactives: a bridge for developers
To enable immunity claims, brands are looking to vitamins C, A, D and B12 and minerals zinc and iron - nutrients that have a long history of consumer trust for supporting immunity, according tot he firm.
Glanbia says that brands looking to incorporate nutrients such as these into concepts that address this consumer demand can do so with ‘bioactive’ ingredients and formulations.
Bedekar explains: “Bioactive ingredients are defined as a line of products that are backed by science and strong animal and human clinical studies proving their efficacy and health benefits for human health. Bioactives have strong scientific support (and associated IP) and market-relevant price points.
“Solid science and proven efficacy is critical in making any bioactive successful and sustainable on the market. Consumers should feel and believe in the benefits of the product they are consuming.”
Iron for immunity
He said that Glanbia’s Bioferrin lactoferrin is one such ‘bioactive’, frequently associated with improving the immune system (2020 FMCG Gurus market research).
“This perception is accurate, as iron-rich ingredients help to modulate overstimulation of the immune system and challenge the immune system to boost under-stimulation,” explained Bedekar.
Bioferrin is an iron balancing solution that is said to offer a gentler and safer alternative to inorganic iron sources.
Other ingredients that are on consumers’ green lists for immunity include turmeric, omega-3 and probiotics, according to Bedekar.
When it comes to e-sport products, he says active ingredients are segmented into three benefit-based groups: mental performance (L-theanine, L-glutamine, choline and botanicals like ginkgo biloba and panax ginseng); energy (taurine, caffeine, B vitamins, creatine and CoQ10); and eye health (vitamins C&E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids).
Glanbia has developed its own patented ‘bioactive’ formulation with e-gamers in mind. Branded CreavBev, this soluble creatine monohydrate can be used in ready-to-drink beverages and gels that are designed to support energy and mental performance.
“At Glanbia Nutritionals, we strive to bring differentiated, proprietary and science supported, consumer-relevant new bioactive solutions with a strategic intent to enable uptake of customised solutions globally.”
Other bioactives developed by the company for the sports nutrition market include partially hydrolysed whey protein isolate Hydrovon and AminoBlast amino acid blends.