Sports and fitness have rarely had a higher profile in the UK, following the financial and cultural success of the London Olympics, Le Tour Grand Depart and, most recently, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The sports nutrition sector has undoubtedly benefited from renewed consumer interest in sporting competition and Ulrick & Short Ltd, leading British-owned clean label ingredient specialist, believes the benefits have also impacted on the associated clean label and ‘free from’ markets.
In the UK alone, during 2013 the sports nutrition sector continued to grow by around 16 per cent, achieving a value of £301million – and this despite the ongoing effects of the recession and increase in VAT (value added tax) imposed at the end of 2012. This growth is primarily due to the consumer market continuing to expand from the core of stereotypical bodybuilder or athlete, to include all types of mainstream fitness enthusiasts.
Ulrick & Short director Adrian Short explained: “Despite the ongoing media coverage of obesity issues in our population, there are millions of people committed to improving their health and fitness, and that of their families, through healthier eating as well as exercise programmes. This enthusiasm was boosted by the incredibly successful global sporting events our country has recently hosted.
“As the sports nutrition market grows, more and more manufacturers are realising the commercial edge generated by using clean label non-GM ingredients in sports and nutritional supplements. Health-conscious customers are looking to improve their performance and stamina whilst also reducing dairy, fat and calorie content and there’s no doubt that an aversion to artificial additives and e-numbers is leading consumers to seek out what are perceived as more natural alternatives.
“Whilst the sector is dominated by manufacturers linked to or owned by global pharmaceutical groups, any size of supplier can thrive by adopting a clean label philosophy. For example, highly functional sports drinks, gels and cereal bars can be created by adding non-GM clean label wheat proteins, fat mimetics, fibres and texturisers that can help to replace lost nutrients and underpin performance improvement.”
The sports nutrition sector in the UK is expected to continue to grow, by an average of 9% annually, to reach sales of £471 million by 2018. Moreover, newly developing markets elsewhere in Europe and the Asia Pacific offer massive potential to innovative manufacturers of sports nutrition products.
Ulrick & Short can offer a range of over 150 clean label ingredients, each with specific functionality: wheat based Complex, for example, provides around 30% glutamine di-peptides and is a very effective blend partner for dairy proteins. Similarly, Delyte is the ideal replacement ingredient for creamers and other fats, simplifying labels and enhancing mouthfeel – proven in taste-tests to be superior to other products. Adding Synergie improves a product’s carbohydrate profile, and Scilia texturises whilst also helping with fibre claims.
Ulrick & Short is the leading British-owned starch specialist, supplying household name food manufacturers across the world with naturally gluten-free non-GM ingredients, and innovating across a diverse range of food industry sectors including bakery, meat, dairy, soups and sauces. The company has a team of dedicated sector specialists and food technologists based in Yorkshire and works hand in hand with customers to maximise value from product development.