The Australian sports nutrition market grew at an average rate of 14% per year in the five years between 2009 and 2014, according to data from the research company.
And with more Aussies now choosing fitness over fast food, the market place for sports nutrition products has begun to see a rapid ‘softening’ in terms of its offering for the general consumer.
“With the evolution of sports and energy bars, there are still the 'scientific' bars targeting elite athletes and very serious gym-goers, however there is a whole new type of snack bars, balls targeting active consumers,” noted Laura Jones, global food science analyst at Mintel.
“Australians can't get enough of everyday sports nutrition products,” she said.
According to Mintel, the ‘energy bar evolution’ has been aided by the wider trend for protein in recent years, while growing consumer demand for natural has also helped shift from ‘scientifically backed’ power bars to more natural offerings like natural protein balls.
Performance brands are getting in on the act too, with major sports manufacturers beginning to broaden their appeal, Jones noted.
“These new energy 'bars' have evolved to a more natural offering using protein rich ingredients like nuts, seeds, and softer messaging around energy - a lot more approachable and appealing to a far wider audience,” she told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Mainstream brand shift
It’s not just performance brands that are looking to tap in to the growing market for everyday sports products, Jones said – noting that mainstream brands have already begun to move into the softer end of the performance territory.
Jones added that whether it is a performance brand looking to broaden its range, or a mainstream manufacturer looking to expand in to new areas, protein remains the key ingredient for ‘everyday’ sports nutrition and active nutrition products.
She said that while protein products are linked building and maintaining muscle mass, there have also recently been links to satiety – meaning that new sports categories could focus on providing a tool to help manage appetite.
Mintel data also shows that the growing trend for everyday sports products is linked to a shift in the way such products are perceived, and to the functional ingredients they contain.
Jones noted that ingredients including coconut, acid whey, beets, and meat snacks are all gaining large amounts of traction in the sports nutrition arena.
Indeed, 28% of Australians who are interested in alternatives to sports drinks, currently drink coconut water for hydration or energy purposes, said Mintel.