sport nutrition market
Health and Nutrition

The Revival of the Sports Nutrition Market

Sports nutrition is a historic market that is currently enjoying a major revival and a strong dynamic of innovation. Consumers themselves now shape this market by expressing their requirements. Today’s watchwords are naturalness, proteins and efficiency.


Sports nutrition, a market worth more than $20 Bn

The sports nutrition market will be worth $20 Bn[1],[2] in 2020, with a CAGR of 8% expected through to 2023. The main players in this market are, unsurprisingly, North America and Europe. They account for respectively 37% and 25% of the world market. However, Asia-Pacific is a region that should not be underestimated, with 20% of the global market. Indeed, in this region all sectors of the nutrition industry are booming: sports, infant, ageing, and more.

The United States dominates the North American market. Often ahead of the trends, the sports nutrition market is still growing there. Today it is largely sustained by the increase in the population’s income and a strong history in this field – the practice of sports is more widespread in the USA than elsewhere.

In the European Union, nearly 2/3 of the market is held by Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, with the latter country dominating. Sports nutrition products are very popular with European consumers. Over the last 6 months, three quarters of Europeans have bought a sports nutrition product.[3]


An increasingly democratized sector


Democratization of sport and the consumption of sports nutrition products


Sport has become the showcase for well-being, at the heart of consumers’ concerns.

Sports nutrition has gone from a niche market to a mainstream trend in recent years. These products, previously reserved for a specific population of bodybuilders, are now consumed by a larger number of people. This is particularly the case with protein-based products, for example. Sport has become the showcase for well-being, at the heart of consumers’ concerns.

The market is also growing geographically, with the development of Asia. This market is driven in particular by the increase in consumer purchasing power and consumers’ awareness of the need to take care of themselves.


Meeting all demands: hyper-segmentation of the sports nutrition market

Promises to meet the different expectations and needs of consumers are expanding: better endurance, increased performance, enhanced recovery, etc. Some products even target specific practices: crossfit, running, triathlon, etc. The type of product is also a point of differentiation: bars, ready-to-drink products or powder, food supplements, and more. This hyper-segmentation meets consumer expectations in terms of personalization and practicality.

To go further, some products are aimed at the overall health of sportsmen and women. They target active people with promises around immunity or digestive well-being.


Who consumes sports nutrition products?

The traditional and historic consumers are bodybuilders and top athletes. They are particularly big consumers of protein products, with 5 to 6 training sessions per week.

Over the last 5 years, profiles have been diversifying and stimulating the market’s innovative dynamics:

      • Active athletes, with 3 to 4 training sessions per week. As well as doing sport to stay in shape, this target group generally has precise objectives: weight gain, weight loss, challenges, etc.


      • Trend-following consumers. They don’t engage in any particular activity, but consume trendy products, including proteins. They regard sports nutrition products as healthy and of good nutritional quality. Their criteria include raw ingredients, clean label products, and a strong connection to social networks.


      • Active teenagers, who turn to sports nutrition at a very young age.


      • Women, looking for “healthy” products specifically designed for them. They may also consume sports nutrition products aimed at slimming.



Major trends in the sports nutrition market

The sports nutrition market has long suffered from a negative image. Doping scandals, the almost caricatural image of bodybuilders and products perceived as being unnatural have tarnished the reputation of this market. Among consumers, expectations are changing, and the players in sports nutrition have been able to revitalize their image in order to appeal to as many people as possible.

Above all, consumers are looking for clean label and natural products that reassure them. Clean labels are a differentiating asset on the sports nutrition market! In the United Kingdom, 46% of consumers think that a clean label means the product is “good for you” and 46% think that it is highly nutritious[4]. A similar trend can be observed in the rest of the world.

Above all, consumers are looking for clean label and natural products that reassure them.

Consumers are also very attentive to ingredients: the war on sugars is in full swing and vegetable proteins are also trendy on this market. Finally, practicality is the order of the day: on-the-go formats are appealing to consumers.

Beyond these major trends, the first purchasing criterion remains products that taste good[5]. The notion of pleasure is more and more prominent in the field of nutrition, and sports nutrition is no exception.


Protein: the most popular ingredient on the sports nutrition market

Protein products account, by value, for 82% of the sports nutrition market.[6] One of the most widely used ingredients is whey protein. In the USA,[7] protein products represent a market 10 times larger than that of non-protein products. In terms of growth, the difference is also striking, with a predicted CAGR (2018-2022) of 12% for protein products, compared to only 5% for non-protein products.

Protein is now considered as a healthy ingredient that can improve the nutritional quality of a product.

Proteins: essential, according to consumers

45% of consumers feel that they need to increase their protein intake when they do regular physical activity[8]. This basic premise even goes beyond the practice of sports. The reasons mentioned by consumers for buying protein products are multiple.[9] They include weight loss (56%), muscle development (33%), recovery (27%) and performance (24%). “New” reasons are also emerging, such as boosting the immune system (18%) or personal development (24%). Performance is no longer the only reason for the consumer to buy these products.


A “health” rather than sports ingredient

Protein is now considered as a healthy ingredient that can improve the nutritional quality of a product. It is now commonly consumed, and no longer only in the domain of sport. A major opportunity for protein products!


Pronativ®, a high-quality natural protein

Pronativ® is a native whey protein: it is a protein in its purest form, with a high-quality nutritional profile. Indeed, it is manufactured directly from milk via a physical process only, without using additives or chemicals. Except the first stage of milk pasteurization, which has no impact on the native quality of proteins, Pronativ® is produced at low temperature. The proteins are very close to their original form find in milk, the amino acid profile is optimized and naturally rich in essential amino acids. This is the case of leucine, which is key to muscle synthesis. Thanks to our process, we can supply a protein powder containing up to 95% protein on a dry basis.

Pronativ® consumption results in better stimulation of muscle synthesis compared to other proteins so it is beneficial for muscle recovery and performance. Its effectiveness also stems from its digestibility and the presence of minor protein fractions such as immunoglobulins and lactoferrin.

With its purely physical manufacturing process, Pronativ® is perfectly aligned with the clean label trend. It allows for more natural sports nutrition products with an ideal nutritional profile, and without compromising on taste. This is an essential point for sports nutrition consumers.

Backed by 15 years of research, Pronativ® presents undeniable quality. Its benefits have been clinically proven, particularly in terms of sports recovery after training sessions. These promises provide an efficient response to the hyper-segmentation observed on the market.

Pronativ® is therefore a protein that is fully in line with current trends in the sports nutrition market.


Sports nutrition and, more broadly, an active lifestyle, are part of a very trend-driven market in which consumers are increasingly demanding. They are looking for clean label products that are effective but still tasty. Increasingly linked to health expectations, the market is also largely sustained by the healthy ageing trend. People are consuming sports nutrition products with a view to taking care of their long-term health. In this booming market, the success of proteins is undeniable.


Sources :

[1] Euromonitor, The Expansion of Sports Nutrition, 2019
[2] Actifs n°66, The sports nutrition market continues to grow, 2019
[3] Lactalis with Numerator, Understanding Protein Buyers, 2019
[4] Mintel, 2018
[5] Lactalis with Numerator, Understanding Protein Buyers, 2019
[6] Actifs n°63, 2018
[7] Euromonitor, 2018
[8] Vitafoods insights, Fueling the Sports Nutrition Sector, 2018
[9] Lactalis with Numerator, Understanding Protein Buyers, 2019

Share on LinkedIn