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UK Attitudes towards Sports Nutrition market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Attitudes towards Sports Nutrition market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Products covered in this Report

This Report looks at consumer usage of and attitudes towards sports nutrition products. These are foods, drinks and supplements targeted at athletes, as well as for the mainstream consumer who exercises, such as protein bars, drinks and powders, energy bars and gels and related supplements.

Attitudes towards protein and products positioned as high in protein, but not specifically targeting sports-related occasions, are also discussed in the report.

What you need to know

Sales of sports nutrition products through the major supermarkets and chemists picked up in 2017. NPD focused on convenient formats and indulgent flavours is helping to make sports nutrition accessible to mainstream consumers. However, non-specialist channels remain a decidedly modest channel in the market, which the online and specialist retailers dominate.

Going forward, competition is likely to continue to intensify from mainstream foods adopting a high-protein positioning. Meanwhile, with young men being the core users of sports nutrition, growing usage among older consumers and tapping the grey pound remains a notable challenge for the category.

Meanwhile, strong interest among users in sports nutrition products that support digestive health or contain health-boosting herbs and spices highlights that these are areas brands can focus on to create standout and boost appeal among existing users.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Anita Winther, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

While the growing choice of high-protein food and drink is creating intensified competition, convenient formats and increasing availability in the mainstream are helping to make sports nutrition more accessible. Interest in products supporting gut health and those featuring health-boosting herbs and spices highlights these as areas ripe for innovation. Anita Winther
Food & Drink Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Sales through mainstream channels pick up
              • Figure 1: Value sales in the UK sports nutrition food and drink market^, 2015/16-2017/18
            • Health remains on consumer agenda
              • Sugar remains in the spotlight, protein continues to be popular
                • Tapping the grey pound remains a challenge
                  • Companies and brands
                    • GSK offloads MaxiNutrition and MaxiMuscle
                      • Dunn’s River leads sales through mainstream channels, Grenade leaps ahead
                        • Figure 2: Leading brands’ shares in the UK sports nutrition food and drink market*, by value, 2017/18**
                      • Protein bars remain a focus in sports nutrition NPD
                        • Vegan ranges expand
                          • Brands look to new uses and categories
                            • High-protein claims continue to rise
                              • Figure 3: Share of UK food and drink launches featuring a high-protein claim, 2014-17
                            • Snacks lead the high-protein charge
                              • One in six high-protein launches are dairy, high-profile NPD in ice cream
                                • The consumer
                                  • Young men remain core users of sports nutrition products
                                    • Figure 4: Usage of sports nutrition products, by age and gender, March 2018
                                  • Sports nutrition faces competition from high-protein food and drink
                                    • Exercise and sport are key occasions for usage
                                      • Figure 5: Usage occasions for sports nutrition products, March 2018
                                    • Non-users need convincing of the benefits of sports nutrition
                                      • Figure 6: Barriers to using sports nutrition products, March 2018
                                    • High protein remains most important choice factor
                                      • Figure 7: Important factors for choosing a sports nutrition product, March 2018
                                    • Opportunities to harness the strong interest in digestive health
                                      • Figure 8: Behaviours relating to sports nutrition products, March 2018
                                    • Protein enjoys a notably strong health image, demand for more clarity on protein type
                                      • Figure 9: Attitudes towards protein, March 2018
                                    • What we think
                                    • Issues and Insights

                                      • The sports nutrition category is a perfect fit for innovation around gut health
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                            • Clearly flagging up protein sources can win trust through transparency while helping users navigate the category
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                  • Scope for sports nutrition brands to focus more on sustainability issues…
                                                    • The facts
                                                      • The implications
                                                        • … within which insect proteins offer futuristic potential
                                                          • The facts
                                                            • The implications
                                                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Sales through mainstream channels pick up
                                                                • Growth of high-protein products and ageing population pose challenges
                                                                  • Health remains on the agenda
                                                                    • Sugar remains in the spotlight, protein continues to be popular
                                                                      • Tapping the grey pound remains a challenge
                                                                      • Market Size

                                                                        • Growth through mainstream channels picks up
                                                                          • Figure 10: Value sales in the UK sports nutrition food and drink market^, 2015/16-2017/18
                                                                        • Convenient formats drive relevance in mainstream channels
                                                                          • ‘Positive nutrition’ and focus on flavour should appeal to less committed athletes
                                                                            • Online and specialist retailers dominate the market
                                                                              • Growth of high-protein products marks rising competition
                                                                              • Market Drivers

                                                                                • Health remains on the agenda
                                                                                  • Most people exercise at least twice a week …
                                                                                    • … but many fall short of the recommended exercise target
                                                                                      • Figure 11: Frequency of exercise, by gender and age, March 2018
                                                                                    • Sugar remains in the spotlight
                                                                                      • Protein remains popular among consumers and brands
                                                                                        • Plant-based proteins have had a rising profile
                                                                                          • Taping the grey pound remains a challenge
                                                                                            • Small uptick expected for young men
                                                                                              • Figure 12: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2012-22
                                                                                            • Future of food and drink legislation post-Brexit remains uncertain
                                                                                            • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                              • GSK offloads MaxiNutrition and MaxiMuscle
                                                                                                • Dunn’s River leads sales through mainstream channels, Grenade leaps ahead
                                                                                                  • Protein bars remain a focus in sports nutrition NPD
                                                                                                    • Vegan ranges expand
                                                                                                      • Brands look to new uses and categories
                                                                                                        • High-protein claims continue to rise
                                                                                                          • Snacks lead the high-protein charge
                                                                                                            • One in six high-protein launches are dairy, high-profile NPD in ice cream
                                                                                                            • Market Share

                                                                                                              • Sports nutrition brands reports mixed UK performance
                                                                                                                • Science in Sports continues strong performance
                                                                                                                  • Protein Works, USN and Health & Diet Centres post declines
                                                                                                                    • Market share through supermarkets
                                                                                                                      • Grenade posts strongest growth
                                                                                                                        • GSK offloads MaxiNutrition and MaxiMuscle
                                                                                                                          • Growth continues for own-label
                                                                                                                            • Figure 13: Value sales in the UK sports nutrition food and drink market^, 2016/17-2016/17
                                                                                                                        • Launch Activity and Innovation – Sports Nutrition

                                                                                                                          • Protein bars remain a focus in sports nutrition NPD
                                                                                                                            • Protein bars ramp up the indulgence factor
                                                                                                                                • Figure 14: Protein bar launches with indulgent flavours, 2017/18
                                                                                                                              • Oats up health credentials for protein bars
                                                                                                                                • Indulgent flavours are inspiring range extensions
                                                                                                                                  • Vegan ranges are expanded
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 15: Vegan sports nutrition launches
                                                                                                                                  • Brands look to new uses and categories
                                                                                                                                    • PhD unveils “versatile” Smart Protein powder
                                                                                                                                      • Optimum Nutrition targets breakfast occasions
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 16: PhD Smart Protein range and Optimum Nutrition breakfast range, 2017/18
                                                                                                                                    • Launch Activity and Innovation – High-protein Food

                                                                                                                                      • Methodology
                                                                                                                                        • High-protein claims continue to rise
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 17: Share of UK food and drink launches featuring a high-protein claim, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                        • Snacks lead the high-protein charge
                                                                                                                                          • Dynamic high-protein innovation in snack bars
                                                                                                                                            • An explosion in pulse-based snacks
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 18: High-protein snack launches 2017/18
                                                                                                                                            • High-profile NPD in nuts
                                                                                                                                              • Meat snacks gain share of snack NPD in 2017, and look to new formats
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 19: Share of high-protein food launches, by product category, 2017
                                                                                                                                                • One in six high-protein launches are dairy
                                                                                                                                                  • Arla continues to expand its reach in high-protein dairy
                                                                                                                                                    • Müller builds up its high-protein offering
                                                                                                                                                      • Quark attracts attention from big players
                                                                                                                                                        • High-profile better-for-you NPD in ice cream
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 20: High-protein ice cream launches 2017/18
                                                                                                                                                        • Breakfast foods have harnessed their suitability for high-protein NPD
                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                          • Young men remain core users of sports nutrition products
                                                                                                                                                            • Sports nutrition faces competition from high-protein food and drink
                                                                                                                                                              • Exercise and sport are key occasions for usage
                                                                                                                                                                • Non-users need convincing of the benefits of sports nutrition
                                                                                                                                                                  • High protein remains most important choice factor
                                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunities to harness the strong interest in digestive health
                                                                                                                                                                      • Protein enjoys a notably strong health image
                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumers want more clarity about protein type
                                                                                                                                                                        • Usage of Sports Nutrition and High-protein Products

                                                                                                                                                                          • Young men remains core users of sports nutrition products
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Any usage of sports nutrition products, by age and gender, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                          • Repertoires are low
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 22: Usage of sports nutrition products, by gender, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                          • Sports nutrition faces competition from high-protein food and drink
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 23: Usage of high-protein products, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 24: Cross-over in usage of sport nutrition products and high-protein food/drink, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                        • Occasions for Using Sports Nutrition

                                                                                                                                                                          • Exercise and sport are key occasions for usage
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Usage occasions for sports nutrition products, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                          • Sports nutrition has a role beyond exercise and sport
                                                                                                                                                                            • Scope for products supporting energy and cognitive function
                                                                                                                                                                            • Barriers to Using Sports Nutrition

                                                                                                                                                                              • Non-users need convincing of the benefits of sports nutrition
                                                                                                                                                                                • Building trust is needed to convince people of benefits
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Tailored ranges should improve relevance
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 26: Barriers to using sports nutrition products, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Price is a major barrier
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Processing and ingredients are a concern
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Choice Factors for Sports Nutrition

                                                                                                                                                                                      • High protein remains most important factor
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Protein source is important to one in three
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Important factors for choosing a sports nutrition product, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                        • All-natural ingredients are in demand
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Low sugar and low calories are important to women
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Behaviours Relating to Sports Nutrition

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Opportunities to harness the strong interest in digestive health …
                                                                                                                                                                                              • … by looking to “gut healthy” ingredients
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 28: Behaviours relating to sports nutrition products, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Herbs and spices are underutilised
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Attitudes towards Protein

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Protein enjoys a notably strong health image
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Attitudes towards protein, March 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Uncertainty about getting enough protein …
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • … owing to a lack of straightforward advice
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Clarity on products’ protein levels should appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Consumers want more clarity about protein type
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Plant-based credentials appeal
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Insect protein piques the interest of one in five
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: UK snacks featuring crickets as an ingredient
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Share of UK food launches featuring a high-protein claim, by category, 2014-17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Share of UK drink launches featuring a high-protein claim, by category, 2014-17