Due to a growing global awareness of the importance of exercise to overall health coupled with the increasing acceptance of the nutraceutical market, consumer demand for supplements geared towards sports nutrition will continue to see strong sales in 2013. Many supplement manufacturers have expanded offerings for distributors based on increased sales within this segment.  According to BCC Research, the global market for sports nutrition products is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 24.1%, and projected to reach $91.18 billion this year. 

One reason for explosive growth of sports performance supplements is a changing product market focus. Traditionally, sports endurance supplements were heavily geared towards body-building and professional athletes. However, sales of sports nutrition products have now expanded to reach multiple fitness categories. The industry has expanded to include individuals that participate in recreational workouts and sports. Historically, sports performance products have been geared towards male consumers; however, today’s user of sports nutrition products is evenly split between genders.  There has also been growth within the youth segment for sports performance supplements – a recent study performed by the National Health Interview Survey shows that 1.6%, or 1.2 million kids, are now users of sports performance formulations. These changing demographics of the typical sports endurance supplement user has been responsible for the growth of the base market for sports supplements, and in turn, helped to fuel the explosive sales growth seen in this category.

With a great deal of innovation within the sports supplement industry, the blurring lines between professional athlete needs versus that of the recreational exerciser, as well as increasing evidence of the efficiency of many sports performance formulations, the sports nutrition industry will continue to flourish and prove to be a segment worth investing in. With a wide selection of product offerings available within this industry, supplement distributors should consider adding these popular categories and/or formulations to their product lineups.

Creatine

Creatine has become a mainstay among many athletes that participate in high-intensity workouts, such as weight training.  The benefits are thought to include an increased strength, enhanced performance, increased testosterone levels, improved brain activity, and the regeneration of muscle cells.  A Washington State University study concluded that creatine supplements can increase muscle mass and strength, giving participants the opportunity to power through intense workouts. Another study conducted by Australian researchers determined that given five grams of creatine daily over a period of six weeks participant’s neurological performance improved including the speed in which information was processed as well as an increase in memory. However, creatine may not have benefits for end users participating in lower-intensity exercises, such as aerobics – so supplement distributors should focus on other formulations and ingredients to target average consumers.

Whey Protein

Another product that has typically been used by professional athletes is whey protein. Whey protein has been used for building muscles, increasing body size, and speed up recovery time.  It also may have antioxidant properties, which can assist the body with eliminating toxins and promote optimal immune health. Other than professional athletes, this nutraceutical product may be targeted towards consumers following a vegetarian diet.

Deer Antler

This popular supplement has received a great amount of media attention as several professional athletes have discusses using deer antler as a recovery product. Deer antler has been historically used in Eastern medicine to control blood pressure, increase lung efficiency, improve muscle tone, and relieve inflammation of arthritis. Research has shown that accelerated tissue repair after extreme work outs may be reduced by the use of deer antler. This product can easily be marketed towards both professional athletes, as well as consumers that participate in recreational sports activity.

Multivitamins

Multivitamins remain in high demand by all types of consumers, from athletes to those who are simply looking to improve their health.  For those who have included exercise as part of their health regimen, focusing on health benefits instead of performance may drive them to purchase specific multivitamins that will enhance energy, boost protein consumption, and help maintain current weight.  Vitamins such as B-complex, C, and A can be beneficial for this group of consumers.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants provide a level of defense against free radicals and other harmful toxins found in the environment.  Oxidative damage can play a major role in many illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammation issues, and muscle/tissue degeneration.  No matter how intense the workout or the level of exercise a consumer may carry out, taking antioxidants can help prevent the reversal of results, promote muscle recovery, and reduce the risk of muscle damage. Popular antioxidants include green tea extract, zinc, selenium, grapeseed extract, as well as vitamins E, C, and B-complex.

Omega-3 & Fatty Acids

While Omega-3s have been heralded as supplements essential for heart health and alleviating inflammation within the body, they also may play a vital role in repairing cellular damage and reducing the risk of coronary disease.  This is noteworthy information for athletes and those who exercise vigorously, as using Omega-3s can help reduce the risk factors associated with injuries. In combination with a balanced diet, Omega-3s and fatty acids help to maintain overall health when setting and achieving athletic goals.

Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are natural substances found in cartilage that act as cushion between bones and joints.  Whether taken separately, or together, glucosamine and chondroitin may decelerate joint damage while relieve pain.  Studies suggest glucosamine can help the body improve its natural repair process, while chondroitin may work to decrease pain and swelling. While these supplements are available in individual offerings, most athletic types may appreciate the accessibility of a combination formula as it may serve as a more convenient means of maintaining a nutritional regimen.

For the sports and weight loss enthusiast, performance and results play a major role in the supplements purchased to achieve desired goals.  Formulations that offer combination benefits that support weight management, increase energy, boost metabolism, and manage muscle recovery are important to this type of consumer.  For consumer’s convenience, distributors may want to consider producing custom formulations containing several of these popular ingredients discussed.

Just as the sports nutrition market has evolved, so have delivery systems. While capsules are still receive among consumers, other methods of delivering supplements have been embraced.  Juices, shots, chews and bars have served as convenient ways of administering the necessary supplemental dosage safely. Your supplement manufacturer can help you analyze both your market and your supplement formulation to determine the best product form options for your brand.

While bodybuilders and athletes have been traditional consumers of the sports nutrition market, interest from recreational and lifestyle users continue to grow.  This gives companies the opportunity to expand their market reach.  Partnering with a supplement manufacturer that can offer a variety of finish products to choose from is a significant first step towards meeting your consumers’ needs. Taking the right approach to expanding your market reach can significantly increase your profits and recognition among consumers within the fast-growing sports nutrition space.