Rise in health awareness boosts sports nutrition market

Increasing health consciousness is proving a boon for sports nutrition companies seeking markets outside of their traditional ?active? consumer and sports niches, according to a report by research analyst Frost & Sullivan.

?Due to increased disposable incomes and busy lifestyles that offer little time for preparing healthy home-cooked food, mainstream consumers have become the second largest end-user group for sports and fitness nutrition products,? the report said of the $2 billion European sports nutrition market.

Improved awareness of the ingredients used in sports and fitness nutrition products across Europe means ?sports-specific diets? are increasingly evolving into ?people-specific diets,? while improved taste and greater functional benefits allow products to tap into the mainstream.

?Along with these more apparent developments, there have been significant improvements in product efficacy,? said Frost & Sullivan research analyst V Meenakshi Sundaram. ?Technological innovations in process such as timely release of nutrients and new protein delivery systems are expected to drive the sports and fitness nutrition market to $6.13 billion in 2011.?

Convenient delivery has ensured widespread adoption of products such as ready-to-drink liquid foods and supplements in the form of bars. Women are being targeted by the likes of Luna bar and Clif Bar.

Distribution is breaking out of traditional avenues such as gyms, fitness centres, health food stores and pharmacies, and moving into hypermarkets and supermarkets.

?The retail sector is becoming better organised and offers immense scope for market coverage,? Sundaram observed. ?Mass market channels such as supermarkets are bound to play a vital role in shaping the future of the energy and nutrition bar sector.?

Restrictive European health claims regulations means companies will have to deliver efficacious products backed by science, and they will need to be proactive in disseminating such information. California-based Nutrition Business Journal estimated the US sports nutrition market at more than $8 billion in 2004, excluding weight-loss products.

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