Five key trends in sports nutrition

Published: 19-Jun-2024

When it comes to meeting the needs of active consumers, says James Street, Global Marketing Director at Prinova, nutrition plays a pivotal role. The right products can improve endurance, build strength, enhance focus, reduce injury risk and speed up recovery times

With a range of new consumer needs emerging, the sports nutrition market has evolved significantly in the past few years.

To better understand the nutrition needs of active consumers in Europe — from religious gym-goers to weekend park runners — Prinova recently undertook market research to explore this burgeoning sector. Here are five of the key takeaways.

A bigger, broader market

Five key trends in sports nutrition

Euromonitor has identified sports nutrition as “the fastest growing consumer health category since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” noting double-digit growth for the 3 years up to 2023.1

And as it has grown, the market has also diversified. Distribution channels have broadened from fitness centres and sports clubs into supermarkets, pharmacies and the Internet; the user demographic has also expanded to include more casual consumers, alongside the traditional niche of serious athletes and bodybuilders.

The new mainstream versus the old hardcore 

The research reveals clear differences in the needs of these two groups. The more casual consumers were more likely to prioritise goals not traditionally associated with the sports nutrition category, such as cognitive and immune health.

They were also significantly more likely to cite weight management and digestive health as key objectives … and to list taste and texture as important purchase drivers.

By contrast, the more avid exercisers tended to prioritise goals such as muscle growth and injury prevention.

The takeaway message is that sports nutrition consumers are a diverse bunch with a wide range of different needs and purchasing habits, which vary significantly by activity level. So careful targeting — and a focus on a wider range of benefits — makes sense.

The enduring appeal of endurance

When the survey respondents were asked about their favourite physical activities, endurance and strength training were nearly five times more popular than team sports and more than seven times more prevalent than individual activities (such as squash and tennis).

Reflecting this, endurance was one of the five top goals for sports nutrition use (along with energy, post-exercise recovery, muscle growth and hydration).

To help to meet this enduring consumer need, Prinova offers enduracarb trehalose — a science-backed slow-acting carbohydrate that can power athletes’ performances when they need it most.

Vitamins are top of the league

The research also found that the ingredients most likely to be sought by active consumers were vitamins.

This reflects the sizeable body of research in terms of their benefits for sports nutrition (for example, a deficiency of B vitamins can reduce an athlete’s ability to perform high-intensity exercise) and suggests it’s getting through to consumers.2

The plant-based trend is changing the game

The survey findings also made clear the impact of the plant-based trend on the sports nutrition market. More than four in ten consumers named plant proteins as one of the ingredients they most looked for, compared with those who sought out whey or dairy (26%), egg (15%) or meat (8%) protein.

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All the Ingredients for sporting success

Prinova’s solutions for sports nutrition include unique, science-backed branded ingredients, as well as market-leading positions in key categories (such as the world’s largest inventory of food-grade single vitamins).

Our customers also benefit from optimised, reliable supply chains and our vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities. In an increasingly fragmented market, it makes sense to team up with one of the world’s most experienced players. 



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