Sports nutrition report points to protein versatility as way to achieve product success

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Ingredion Protein RTD

Protein’s health halo remains firmly in place as a report identifies protein-based Ready to Drink (RTD) and protein type/content as prime category opportunities to excel in the growing sports nutrition category.

The report’s authors Ingredion point to these opportunities as a way to support consumer-preferred health and wellness claims, whether its increasing protein and energy levels or reducing sugar and fat.

“The health and wellness trend is a key driver, opening up new mainstream product development opportunities as consumers increasingly look for food and beverages that offer functional health and lifestyle benefits,”​ says Chris Draper, UK & Ireland Key Account Lead for PureCircle by Ingredion.

“This blurring of category boundaries is expected to see the value of sports nutrition and reach €35m by 2025.

“New product launch activity in sports nutrition in EMEA grew at more than double the global rate, experiencing a 31.2% CAGR between 2016-20.”

While protein has long been established as a key ingredient in health food and beverages, the report homes in on the macronutrient’s credentials for sustainable growth via alternative sources.

With plant-based protein emerging as a ‘greener’ ingredient, products that use this, meet the requirements of a growing vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diet community.

The industry push to cater for these consumers continues as the report notes that vegan claims are important in NPD, according to respondents in the UK (22.4%), France (20%) and Spain (24.4%).

No and low / reduced sugar

Along with protein, other top consumer positionings within the sports nutrition sector include no and low / reduced sugar claims as a reflection of the drive by governments to reduce the incidences of diabetes and weight gain.

The report, titled: ‘Success in sports nutrition: Identifying new opportunities and formulating for success in the growing sports nutrition category’ classed no added sugar as one of the fastest growing positionings, with claims growing by +43% CAGR, between 2015-19.

The report also delves into the motivations behind purchasing decisions with energy-giving ranked as the top driver at 38%, closely followed by health at 37%.

“Consumers are looking for not only healthy, but importantly, great-tasting sports nutrition products with no added or reduced sugar claims that are convenient to use and reflect their on-the-go lifestyles and health concerns,”​ the report remarks.

While millennials are key purchasers, the report notes 17% of this demographic that when asked,  typically buy sports nutrition products when shopping.

In addition, scrutiny of ingredient lists, demand for ‘no artificial’ and ‘natural’ claims, and growing awareness of the health benefits of vegan and meat-free diets were all driving this change with 15% of millennials already meat-free.

Vitessence Pulse

“Ingredient choice and label claims need to reflect these lifestyle priorities and concerns,”​ Ingredion’s report highlights.

“A way companies can accomplish this is by incorporating plant-based protein, which delivers the desired functional health benefits while addressing lifestyle choices around vegan diets and sustainability.”

Current offerings in the plant-based protein product domain include ingredient specialists Kerry and Roquette with pea-based protein now a mainstay amongst the two firms’ protein offerings.

Ingredion's range of plant protein ingredients includes Vitessence Pulse 1803 protein – a high-protein content pea isolate that can be used in a range of protein-rich products, such as nutrition and sports bars, powders and ready-to-drink (RTD) sports drinks.

To download Ingredion EMEAs ‘Success in Sports Nutrition’ Report, visit:

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