During a time of ongoing changes, sports nutrition continues to grow strong.
On March 16, the final 64 schools across the United States were officially set to compete in the most prestigious tournament in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)—the NCAA tournament. Simply known as “March Madness,” these colleges and universities compete in one large, single-elimination tournament that runs through the beginning of April.
Although there may only be one winner once it is all said and done, one quality these competitors share is work ethic. These athletes undergo grueling practices and training, and to supplement this, they often turn to sports nutrition products—items that can range from proteins to joint support products.
Of course, not everyone is a Division I athlete, but (just about) everyone does strive to be a better version of themselves. If one’s goal involves being in better physical shape, doing so involves awareness of trends, common ailments, the current market and even a look into how the supplement industry’s supply chain works.
Trends & Innovations
As information is more readily available via studies and online channels, some manufacturers, such as Florida-based Garden of Life, are making the transition to what many may describe as “cleaner” options, especially when it comes to whey products.
“We’ve seen whey proteins struggle in recent years,” said Jeffrey Brams, vice president of product development, Garden of Life. “Considering the trend toward ‘clean label’ ingredients, it’s not surprising. Most so-called ‘clean’ whey formulas still include artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners and virtually none hold any type of third-party testing certification. As a result, we’ve seen a market flooded with contaminated, adulterated and ‘spiked’ products over the years.
“In more recent years, there’s been a proliferation of ‘grass fed’ claims on whey products—however, almost none of these purportedly ‘clean’ products have any type of third party audit or validation of the ‘grass fed’ claim. It’s been the Wild West. That’s one of the main reasons Garden of Life stepped out of our known expertise with plant proteins to bring our new Truly Grass Fed Whey to market. Our whey is the first holistic dairy farming system that could not only sustain our scrutiny for the actual pasture-raised, truly grass fed practices, but also for other key metrics just as important to our brand—including the lowest carbon emissions of any dairy system in the world, exceptionally low heard density (on average, there is one cow for every two acres of land), humane treatment of the livestock and Non-GMO (genetically modified organism) Project Verification.”
In essence, consumers seek products that are backed by not only scientific evidence and health benefits—they want the specifics of the healthy ingredients that go in their bodies—but also animal- and environment-friendly benefits.
Sebastien Bornet, vice president of global sales and marketing at ingredient supplier Horphag Research in New Jersey, also noted consumer preference for clean ingredients.
“We’ve seen a shift in the market and more consumers are interested in sports nutrition products that feature clean labels and natural ingredients supported by science to help them reach their fitness goals,” he noted. “Health-conscious individuals who are becoming more prevalent in this space are keeping a close eye on labels and doing their own research on which ingredients they should look for.”
So, how has this natural transition impacted the market?
State of the Market
As 21st century technology continues to develop, not only are companies making a transition ingredient-wise, but they are joining the online marketplace as well.
This involves physical stores extending their reach via social media and new retailers establishing themselves solely through this domain. The potential challenge: keeping up with competing product prices.
“It’s a state of growth, but also significant change,” said Marc Stover, vice president of marketing, sports nutrition and innovation with Twinlab Corporation in Florida. “Some traditional sports nutrition stores are struggling, while sales are shifting both to ecommerce and other digital methods, such as ambassador sales in which social media personalities and athletes get a cut of sales they generate online. The influx of new brands launching virtually every week and often with the same type of product as everyone else has is forcing prices and margin to becoming tighter for brands. The marketing noise around these products is becoming deafening and I would suggest making the nutrition market even more confusing for consumers.”
However, despite the challenges for individual companies to stand out amongst the pack, a combination of competition among brands and consumers’ commitment to fitness is helping to positively drive the market.
“The sports nutrition market is growing substantially for athletes, and expanding for fitness enthusiasts and individuals looking to support an active lifestyle,” added Bornet. “Recent market research [originally gathered by Zion Market Research] shows that the current value of the sports nutrition market is about $28 billion and that number is expected to grow to nearly $45 billion by the year 2022.”
Precisely, recent predictions show the 2022 market to reach up to 45.27 billion with an upward trend year to year, due to the “increase in health awareness among the population, new product development, the rapid increase in urbanization, and growth in a number of sales outlets, health clubs, fitness centers and gyms,” according to Zion.
Although some sports nutrition supplements can contain ingredients ranging from dairy, whey and others, this does not signify that these products may suit everyone’s needs. In fact, in the eyes of Jonathon Larson, co-founder and CEO of Texas-based Oriya Organics, Inc., allergies have become much more prominent, causing some to make lifestyle changes.
“Having worked as a trainer and nutrition coach for both professional athletes and weekend warriors alike, one of the most common ailments I have come across is the rise in food allergies over the years,” he said. “Consumers are moving away from dairy and whey-based products and they want products that are gluten free as well. Our products are packaged in a facility that does not process any of the eight most common food allergies as defined by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), so there is no risk of cross-contamination from ingredients like tree nuts, soy or dairy.”
In a response written by Dr. James Li, professor of medicine at the College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic and board-certified asthma and allergy specialist, there is not a clear-cut reason why, but it is possible for adults to develop an allergy to food that used to give them no problems in the past. Even children who outgrow a food allergy can have it reappear later on. Still, this does not mean one can ignore the physical ailments that users often treat with sports nutrition supplements. As cited by Timothy Mount, director of education for NeoCell in California, general soreness, knee pain and twisted ankles are common among athletes. Mount advised taking collagen daily to combat these everyday problems.
“Commit to taking a collagen supplement on a daily basis,” he recommended. “Long- term collagen use is the best way to reduce the risk of injury and keep your joints strong so you can stay on the field. If an injury does occur, there is inevitably damage to the collagen structure of the connective tissue, so high doses of collagen are the first step in supporting the healing response. Collagen is among the safest supplements on Earth, so don’t be concerned about taking too much during recovery. Between 6,000 and 15,000 mg or more is a great way to kickstart your body’s rebuilding process.”
In combination with allergy awareness and bone health, it could be as simple as reverting back to the basics of what one learned when first starting to work out.
“The Twinlab brand doesn’t stand for hype, it stands for trust and so many times, it’s not brand new information at all. It’s reinforcing the fundamentals: excellent nutrition, supplement facts vs. myths, proper form, the most results-driven exercises,” said Stover. “Our customers are smart and experienced and so it’s often not a ‘revolutionary new technique—it’s more about a tweak here or there.”
The Supply Chain & Helping Others
Consumer safety is a significant concern for responsible product manufacturers. Part of this process involves knowing the details behind where ingredients originate and being aware of every stop a specific item makes in the production process. Larson was adamant about these requirements.
“We are an ultra-clean company and we have some of the most stringent ingredient standards in the industry,” he said. “We always want to know where ingredients are sourced from and how they are processed. Supply chain transparency is important to us, so we are only looking for products that are certified organic, non-GMO verified and vegan. All ingredients need to be vetted by third-party certifiers to make sure that they meet these label claims and our rigid ingredient standards.”
In order to support retailers and consumers alike, a major factor includes hiring the employees who can not only be the most productive, but also help create the best end product.
“When we created this line, we did so with a team of truly outstanding leaders in sport,” said Brams. “Our lead nutritionist, Dawn Jarvis, has been the lead nutritionist for Wimbledon and multiple British Olympic teams. Our sport fitness expert, Don Saladino, is known as one of the leading trainers in America with a client roster that includes top athletes, models and actors including Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Reynolds, Luke Donald and Hugh Jackman. To this team we added our USA organic farmers who are pioneers in growing and producing organic plant proteins here at home, our Irish dairy cooperative who created the world’s leading grass fed standards applied in our Truly Grass Fed Certification program, our PhDs and formulation team.”
Essentially, consumers, retailers and manufacturers make up a cycle that consists of supporting one another—greater support results in a better outcome. The same could be said about college basketball fans. More passion might just result in a championship.
“As brands, our job is to support our retail partners with trusted products that perform and to also help drive consumer awareness so that they ask for the products at their store,” said Stover. “When we support their success, we support our success.” VR
Stock Up On Protein
Although there may be a plethora of items that could be a great complement to one’s physical workout, below are a few quick products to take on the go, with a protein boost included too!
LOS ANGELES, CA—Leap Smoothies are an organic freeze-dried smoothie brand offering ready-to-mix powder drinks and smoothie bowls that contain 15 g of protein and one day’s worth of fruits and veggies. Smoothies (1.8-2 oz.) have a retail value of $4.99, while smoothie bowls start at $3.19.
For more information, call (312) 622-0897 or visit www.leapsmoothies.com.
High Protein Muffins
MIAMI, FL— Peace A’ Cake’s All Natural, Non-GMO Verified High Protein Muffins have the best of both worlds: delicious taste and good nutrition. According to the company, the brand uses only real ingredients and source the best quality organic brown rice protein and grass-fed, hormone-free whey protein to give it a good amino acid profile. To make it even better, the company uses organic coconut oil, organic coconut sugar and prebiotic fiber to make it a macro-friendly snack guaranteed to please all healthy sweet teeth out there. A box including two mini muffins (2.2 oz.) has an MSRP of $3.89.
For more information, call (786) 747-4583 or visit www.peace-a-cake.com.
Superfood Ice Treat
SANTA MONICA, CA—Snow Monkey (FMIF Holdings LLC) is here to revolutionize the frozen aisle. The company reinvented ice cream as an indulgent and healthy treat made from only seven all natural, plant-based ingredients. It’s vegan, paleo, non-dairy and free from all eight major allergens like gluten, soy and nuts. The shelf life could also serve to be an advantage.
“Snow Monkey is a nutrition bomb in a pint. Packed with antioxidants, protein and omega 3-6-9, this superfood ice treat is intelligent fuel,” said Rachel Geicke, co-founder of Snow Monkey.
Snow Monkey is the perfect anytime treat for breakfast, fuel or indulgence—an entire pint of Snow Monkey contains 20 g of protein, and is packed with fiber and antioxidants with an MSRP of $6.99.
For more information, call (951) 878-0887 or visit www.snow-monkey.com.
For More Information:
Garden of Life, LLC, (561) 748-2477
Horphag Research, (201) 459-0300
NeoCell Corporation, (800) 346-2922
Oriya Organics, Inc., (512) 992-5100
Twinlab Corporation, (800) 645-5626