As people pay more attention to healthy life and body shape, national fitness has gradually become a national strategy and social trend. Various forms of sports have become more and more popular in China, and related products have gradually penetrated from professional sportspeople to sports lovers and even ordinary consumers, thus giving birth to the Sports Nutrition Market.
Driven by multiple factors, such as sustained income growth, consumer mindset transformation, and favorable policies, the concept of fitness has become popular. The fitness population in China is increasing at an average annual growth rate of 10%, and national fitness has gradually become a trend.
Mainstream Sports Nutrition Market
At present, the global sports nutrition market is segmented into 4 major regions: Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and Others. According to a new report by Energias Market Research, an American consulting firm, the global sports nutrition market will reach $64.8 billion in 2025. The study indicates Europe accounts for more than a quarter of the global sports nutrition market, North America for 41%, and the Asia Pacific for less than a fifth.
The overall Chinese sports nutrition market was $329 million in 2018, and the industry's retail sales have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 40% over the past five years and will continue to grow at 24% over the next five years, much higher than the 11% growth rate of the global sports nutrition industry.
In the past, sports nutrition products were mainly targeted at young, healthy men. Nowadays, the consumers of sports nutrition products also include women, older people who want to age gracefully, and "weekend warriors". Today's material life has been greatly enriched, and people generally pursue an active lifestyle.
While not necessarily at the level of an athlete, they are very committed and passionate about their sport. Sales of sports nutrition products are still primarily driven by sports performance, but for this broader, everyday active general population, energy recovery and replenishment will be the main drivers of the future market.
Sports Nutrition Segmentation
The association of a plant-centered vegan diet with physical activity and fitness, along with food and beverage forms rich in solid and powdered ingredients, has been embraced by the broader population.
- Yoga participants choose post-workout plant-based protein powders or beverages and avoid carbohydrates.
- Golfers need supplements of energy creatine, quercetin, coenzyme Q10, and amino acids in addition to caffeine.
- E-sports have flourished with the rise of gaming, placing tremendous demands on the body and increasing numbers of gamers seeking sustained energy levels and mental clarity to achieve focus for hours at a time.
With the growing consumer interest in general health and wellness, as well as body image maintenance, sports nutrition manufacturers are catering to an increasingly wide range of needs.
As the COVID-19 spreads, sports facilities and gyms around the world are closing, and sporting events are being postponed or suspended. Sports enthusiasts who used to participate in sports or group exercise on a regular basis are not allowed to adjust their exercise routines. These populations are also the focus of the sports nutrition market.
2021 Sports Nutrition Trends
Sports nutrition is gradually moving from professional fields such as athletics to the general public and to more openness. However, the whole industry is still lacking in its research and grasp of the increasingly diversified consumer market, which has also posed unprecedented challenges to the enterprise in terms of product, R&D, and marketing innovation.
1. The Personalization of Sports Nutrition Will Continue to Grow
One of the greatest needs for people who are serious about sports is a high-quality protein, which is proven to support endurance, recovery, and muscle development.
At the same time, more mainstream consumers are more likely to focus on goals such as satiety and weight management. They are also more likely to expect a product to taste good, which means that the market can offer proteins without compromising flavor.
Another noteworthy area is the female market. According to Friesland Campina, women represent a growing percentage of the performance nutrition market, but there is a lack of products specifically tailored to them. The focus of active women is shifting from weight management alone to building strength (37%), increasing muscle mass (32%), and promoting cognitive health (41%).
2. Four Functional Components
Protein is still the king of sports nutrition. Whey protein is rapidly digested and fully absorbed in about three hours, so it is recommended for resistance exercise, while micellar casein has a more gradual anabolic effect that takes up to seven hours, which means it is more recommended for endurance.
For proteins, quality is more important than quantity. It is important to note that not all proteins are as rich in leucine as whey protein, which is the case with most plant proteins. In addition, consuming the right amount of high-quality protein will also prevent you from consuming additional amino acids that your body does not need.
As a sports nutrition ingredient, it is rapidly gaining popularity among consumers. Not only does it benefit from its superior antioxidant potential, but it also benefits from additional clinically proven benefits. Studies have found that during and after exercise, severe muscle inflammation can occur, and natural astaxanthin can counteract these harmful processes, thereby preventing injury.
Astaxanthin's growth in the e-sports arena is also striking. These consumers are looking for products that support cognitive function, enhance focus, and improve vision. Natural astaxanthin is well suited to meet this demand, as clinical studies have shown that natural astaxanthin can reduce fatigue, help with better concentration, improve vision, and support brain health.
While the field of sports nutrition has been growing in protein richness, the combination of ingredients in enhanced recovery has adopted a new approach to recovery, primarily omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and support cardiovascular, brain, and joint health. However, a growing body of recent research points to Omega-3 is an essential nutrient for exercise endurance and recovery, and krill oil, in particular, has many benefits and great potential for athletes. Studies have shown that krill oil increases the immune response after high-intensity exercise, which may, in turn, affect an athlete's recovery time.
During strenuous exercise, oxidative stress is slightly increased due to enhanced aerobic respiration. Many products have potential antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties that may improve oxidative stress and help reduce the intensity of inflammation. Ingredients such as curcumin and its derivatives have been shown to improve oxidative stress and support healthy muscle structure.
Currently, among the various health benefits associated with exercise, the ones that consumers are more aware of our joint health and pain & inflammation support. Curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects are attracting more and more attention in the sports nutrition field, but it is still a very niche product. There is a growing market opportunity for products that address physical function and recovery issues.
As consumers move toward transparent sports nutrition formulations and demand for natural products, plant-derived curcumin will be more readily accepted by consumers, and the body of clinical research and evidence reinforces consumer trust.
Predictably, the sports nutrition industry will continue to evolve in the future to meet the needs of a wide range of consumers.
It will become increasingly important for suppliers to comply with mainstream trends, such as the demand for low-sugar products and natural, clean-label ingredients. At the same time, it is important to note that "hybrid" sports nutrition products containing both plant and animal proteins are already on the market.
For traditional consumers, the desire to benefit more from sports nutrition products means that formulations are becoming more complex, leading more manufacturers to offer combinations of products that continue to push the market into new areas, adding value, creating new categories and points of differentiation.