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Sports supplement sales soar in brick-and-mortar thanks to beverages

Consumers increasingly turn to mass market retailers for sports hydration and energy beverages, new NBJ Sports Nutrition and Weight Management Report shows.

Rick Polito

April 8, 2023

2 Min Read
Sports supplement sales soar in brick-and-mortar thanks to beverages
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Sales data in the 2023 Nutrition Business Journal Sports and Weight Management Report shows that the combined U.S. markets are doing what no other categories in the supplement space have: Brick-and-mortar isn’t just alive and kicking, it’s beating e-commerce.

Sales growth for sports nutrition and weight management products in the U.S. didn’t simply stall in e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retail is actually eating into e-commerce’s market share. That’s among the more surprising findings in the 153-page report, but the sales trends and consumer research also suggest interesting storylines unique to these markets.  

Natural and specialty retail continues to lose ground, with mass market driving the sales that define success in the combined markets. Much of that is due to the channel’s dominance in the massive sports hydration and energy beverage market, which continues to show phenomenal growth. However, products like pre-workout formulations that are closely associated with sports nutrition are also gaining strength in mass market retail, effectively making the leap from the supplement-only standalone stores.  

That the sports nutrition and weight management market remains a brick-and-mortar game is a stark contrast to what is seen in the overall U.S. supplement industry. Sports nutrition and weight management, it should be noted, includes all those sports hydration and energy beverages, but it’s still remarkable that even as e-commerce supplement sales approach parity in with both mass market retail and natural and specialty retail, e-commerce remains a sliver of the market for the sports and energy drinks.

Some categories where e-commerce shows strength are also markets that have fallen from their former glory. Online sales of weight management pills, for instance, are behind only the multi-level marketing channel, but weight management pill sales declined by double digits in 2022. RTD protein drinks also sell well online, but the category across all channels hasn’t seen remarkable growth since before the COVID-19 pandemic came to American shores in 2020. 

The NBJ Sports Nutrition and Weight Management report continues to evolve: For the first time, the report breaks out protein powders by ingredient but also adding consumer research that reveals not only what target audiences are looking but also what they are using the products for. That research illustrates just how blurred the lines between sports nutrition and weight management have become as consumers look at every category closely associated with sports as a strategy for controlling their weight. 

NBJ's Sports Nutrition and Weight Management Report

Learn more about the 2023 Nutrition Business Journal Sports and Weight Management Report at the NBJ store.

About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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