Consumer survey reveals top picks in European sports nutrition preferences

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer survey reveals top picks in European sports nutrition preferences

Related tags Consumer consumer behavior Consumer attitudes Vitamins Minerals plant protein plant-based omega 3 botanicals Sports nutrition

New consumer research reveals vitamins, minerals, and plant protein as preferred sports nutrition ingredients.

Prinova, provider of bespoke premixes and blends, surveyed 1277 physically active European consumers​ across five major European sports nutrition markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) presenting them with a list of 20 common ingredients and asking them to pick the five that they looked for in sports nutrition products. 

The highest scoring ingredients were vitamins, picked by nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers, followed by plant protein (42%) and minerals (38%).

Meanwhile, many ingredients not traditionally associated with sports nutrition also scored highly. 16% of consumers looked for products containing fibre, shortly followed by omega-3 (14%), botanicals (13%), probiotics (9%), and oats (9%). 

Tony Gay, technical sales director of nutrition at Prinova Europe, said the survey reveals the diverse interests of the sports nutrition consumer.

“Not so long ago, sports nutrition was seen as synonymous with protein, but the landscape is already looking very different.

“The market has exploded as scientific research has revealed the value of a far wider range of ingredients for athletic performance, and that has cut through to consumers.

“For example, there’s growing awareness that a deficiency of B-vitamins can reduce athletes’ ability​ to perform high-intensity exercise, while Vitamin C offers benefits for recovery​ as well as immune health, and minerals can offer benefits in areas like hydration​.” 

He explains that findings reflect the growing body of research on non-traditional ingredients for sports nutrition, and the new diversity of the sports nutrition consumer base.He adds the significant growth in plant-based sports nutrition products is driven by sustainability and health considerations.

The survey additionally found that endurance activities and strength training were more popular than team or individual sports across all categories of exercise.

In terms of preferred formats, bars were the top choice overall, followed by ready-to-mix powders for beverages and ready-to-drink beverages. 

However, rising costs are affecting purchasing decisions, with over 80% of respondents saying they have adjusted their spending behaviour, with younger consumers and daily exercisers more likely to seek cheaper products. 

Notably, the report showed that affordability is the primary factor influencing purchase decisions, followed by trust in the brand, natural ingredients, scientifically proven ingredients, and ingredient recognition.

NutraIngredients Europe will host its Active Nutrition Summit​ in Amsterdam from October 9-11.

An evolution of the brand's prominent annual Sports & Active Nutrition Summit, this year’s event will provide delegates with insights into the increasingly holistic and mass market view of sports nutrition, from some of the leading names in the industry.

Content pillars will cover all the hottest topics in the industry today, including: cognitive health, women’s health, life-stages nutrition, and personalisation. 

Post-covid attitudes

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports nutrition market faced an uncertain future as lockdowns shuttered gyms and disrupted routines, Gay explains. 

However, recent developments suggest a promising resurgence for the industry, with a CAGR of 8% projected between 2022 and 2028[NH3]​ , reportedly fuelled in part by the pandemic's impact on long-term consumer interests in lifestyle and diet. 

The new survey shows that one notable shift in the sports nutrition landscape is the diversification of distribution channels. 

Previously confined to sports clubs and fitness centres, products are now available online, in supermarkets, and at pharmacies, widening the consumer demographic.

Prinova’s research reflects the expansion of the market beyond its niche of serious athletes and bodybuilders, to a more mainstream landscape. 

Now, the sports nutrition consumer base is diverse, mirroring the wide variety of people who engage in regular exercise. 

Respondents to the survey showcased varying levels of physical activity, with 20% exercising twice a week and 22.5% exercising daily.

Exemplifying consumers’ holistic health goals, the survey found that over 20% prioritise cognitive health, 16% focus on immune health, and 9% prioritise digestive health. 

Gay notes the growing repertoire of interests is likely a result of a broader consumer base leading to the blending of boundaries between sports nutrition and other categories, with less regular exercisers tend to target goals like immune health and weight management.

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