Alternative proteins challenge dairy dominance in sports nutrition

The value of the sports nutrition market is set to grow by around 8% per year to reach over US$17bn globally in 2021, according to a forecast by Innova Market Insights.

The traditional dominance of whey and other dairy proteins being challenged, leading to a surge in plant-based alternatives. From 2014-18, the market saw over 40% growth in new sports nutrition launches with a plant-based claim.

Of all food and beverage launches recorded in 2018, 6% were vegan, however this rises to 14% for sports nutrition. RTD sports drinks have an even higher level of prevalence for these claims at 18%.

Some of the fastest-growing plant-based proteins include soy protein isolate, pea protein, and rice protein. Other plant-based ingredients in sports nutrition NPD include nuts and seeds, many of which already carry an inherently healthy and nutritious image. In Europe, for example, sports nutrition launches with nuts and seeds had a CAGR of 23% over the 2014 to 2018 period.

“One of the most interesting developments in protein use in recent years,” according to Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, “has been the move to alternative protein sources, with the traditional dominance of whey and other dairy proteins now being challenged by plant-based products.”

Innova Market Insights data also indicates that global launch activity in sports nutrition has risen particularly strongly over the past three years, reflecting a broadening appeal of everyday health and fitness as a lifestyle choice.

Growing consumer interest in health, sustainability, and ethics have made plant-derived ingredients and products more popular in sports nutrition in line with the food and drinks market as a whole.

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