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The Analyst’s Take: 31% of US consumers report increased protein powder use in 2020

Claire Morton
Protein powder has been a solid category within supplements over the past decade, and 2020 has the potential to be yet another strong year with 31% of consumers reporting increased use compared to last year.

Protein powders have undergone a transformation over the last ten years, shifting from giant tubs of whey protein purchased exclusively by gym enthusiasts to a diverse product landscape spanning lifestyle goals and on-trend ingredients.

That shift has led to a continuation of strong growth in the sports powder category, which peaked at 12.7% in 2013 but has remained steady between 6% and 7% since 2016. This might seem like a steep drop, but by Nutrition Business Journal's assessment is notable growth for a maturing category that rung up $6 billion in sales in 2019.

Insights from consumer research indicate that 2020 will be another year of success. In partnership with Suzy, New Hope Network surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers the week of April 13 to capture real-time behavior during a nationwide shutdown.

31% of these consumers report increased use of protein powders as compared to their typical use in 2019. This makes sense as powders provide a shelf-stable source of protein, which has been in high demand throughout shelter-in-place orders and panic-buying behavior. But the majority of consumers (59%) are reporting no change in their use of protein powders, and this consistent pattern may be the real story here. The role protein powder plays in those daily habits is unchanged even in a world of gym closures and shifting fitness priorities.

With the effects of the pandemic shifting the U.S. market on a near-daily basis, it is important not only to understand consumer perceptions and behaviors right now, but to look forward as well.

When we asked consumers “do you expect your use of protein powders to be higher or lower 3 months from now?” the responses remained fairly unchanged. Time will tell how many new consumers come into the category and how many incorporate such products into their daily routines, but there is certainty in another successful year for protein.

Interested in more insights from Nutrition Business Journal? Sign up for its newsletter here. NBJ just released these and other statistics in its 2020 NBJ Sports Nutrition and Weight Management Report.

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