Evolution of bioactives shaping sports nutrition

Sports nutrition is evolving at incredible speed, according to global solutions provider Glanbia Nutritionals, and the category is now worth £1.08bn ($1.5bn) in the UK[1].

Growing at a CAGR rate of 8.7% out to 20251, the sports, active and healthy nutrition market is increasingly catering to a mass consumer audience seeking holistic solutions that support fitness & performance goals. It is no longer a product segment restricted to athletes and body builders.

This market growth indicates a new emerging megatrend, according to experts at Glanbia Nutritionals, with consumers opting for products with active ingredients to support not only physical health but also immunity, sleep, and cognitive health.

Brands looking to expand their portfolio to address consumer demand can effectively do so with health beneficial and science backed solutions such as bioactive ingredients.

“Bioactives can be used for a huge variety of market segments and in a wide range of applications such as ready-to-mix powders, beverages, gels, bars and supplements in form of tablets, capsules, gummies or soft gels,” says Mayuresh Bedekar, Director Product Strategy for Bioactives at Glanbia Nutritionals.

Glanbia Nutritionals’ R&D team has developed revolutionary technologies to optimise amino acids. PepForm® binds free form amino acids to peptides isolated from fresh sweet whey using advanced fractionation and separation technologies. PepForm peptide carrier technology significantly improves the solubility and utilisation of amino acids like BCAA, Glutamine, Tryptophan and Arginine.

Additionally, AminoBlast® BCAAs and Essential Amino Acids (EAA) provides improved clarity and dispersibility in water for easy inclusion into beverages with no clumping, floating powder or sedimentation, as typically seen with amino acids.

Glanbia Nutritionals also has a unique portfolio of dairy-based protein solutions, including Hydrovon®, a premium, instantised partially hydrolysed whey protein isolate. Hydrovon is a unique solution offering excellent flavour in a partially hydrolysed whey protein for rapid absorption of whey peptides, helping to stimulate protein synthesis and decreased prevention of protein breakdown.

Research reveals 55 per cent of Europeans have placed a greater emphasis on improving immunity because of COVID-19[2], with a further 58 per cent looking for immunity boosting claims in sports nutrition products2, leading to brands seeking the addition of vitamins C, A, D, B12, zinc and iron.

In response to this demand, Glanbia Nutritionals offers Bioferrin® lactoferrin which is a superior iron balancing solution that offers a gentler and safer alternative to inorganic iron sources. The strenuous activity of athletes can result in the depletion of iron levels, as 18 per cent of males and 38 per cent of females experience iron deficiencies[3].  Lactoferrin provides athletes with a better tolerated iron delivery system that is backed by years of extensive research and which may have a positive impact on their performance.

The link between mental and physical health should not be ignored by brands developing new sports nutrition products. A desire to improve cognitive health is an increasing trend, with almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of European sports nutrition consumers looking to improve cognition in the last six months2.

“Research tells us that eight in ten (82 per cent) consumers cited ‘improving cognitive health’ as an important factor when seeking out sports nutrition products.

“Ingredients that can support better sleep, alertness, and focus (including nootropics) are now highly sought after, so companies are increasingly looking to adapt to this trend” adds Mayuresh.

Sports nutrition claims around improving strength and energy remain popular, however, this now extends beyond protein, with the Non-Protein Sports Nutrition market worth £203m ($282m) in the UK1.

Glanbia Nutritionals’ CreavBev® is a novel patented formulation aimed at brands offering consumers Creatine for increased cellular energy supplies and enhanced anaerobic exercise capacity[4]. A solution for ready-to-drink acidic and neutral pH beverages, CreaBev is designed to be soluble and stable in water, during heat processing and storage with no degradation or crystallisation.

Mayuresh concluded: “Our bioactive solutions are an ideal option for food and drink brands entering or expanding into the sports nutrition and active lifestyle market, as they are immediately ready to be added during the manufacturing process, meaning new product innovations can be made available to purchase rapidly.”

[1] Euromonitor, World Sports Nutrition + Meal Replacement & Supplement Nutrition Drinks, July 2021

[2] FMCG GURUS The Potential of performance nutrition in 2021

[3] Dubnov, G., & Constantini, N. W. (2004). Prevalence of Iron Depletion and Anemia in Top-level Basketball Players. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 14(1), 30-37

[4] Jäger et al., Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids (2011) 40: 1369-1383


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