Asia Pacific Is Sports Nutrition’s Next Hot Spot

Nutritional OutlookNutritional Outlook Vol. 21, No 3
Volume 21
Issue 3

Sports nutrition sales are expected to grow fastest in Asia Pacific, outpacing North America.

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Global sports nutrition value sales grew from $8.4 billion in 2012 to $13.6 billion in 2017 and are expected to reach almost $19 billion by 2022. This global expansion is supported by core users, such as body builders and professional athletes, and new consumers who are increasingly embracing fitness trends, thus incrementally building a broader sports nutrition client base.

North America has historically dominated sports nutrition value sales due to the mature U.S. market. In fact, the U.S. alone has represented over 60% of global value sales each year over the past 10 years, reaching $8.4 billion in 2017. But even though North America, and specifically the U.S., accounts for the majority of global sports nutrition value sales today, sales in Asia Pacific are expected to grow at the fastest pace moving forward.

Looking ahead, Asia Pacific is projected to be the fastest growing sports nutrition region, with a 10% compound annual growth rate over 2017-2022 and set to reach $1.3 billion by 2022 (up from $816 million in 2017). In this region, value sales are mainly driven by two markets, Japan and China, which had combined sales of $432 million in 2017, representing over 50% of regional sales and together set to reach $812 million by 2022.

Regional Drivers

While rising fitness trends are a common factor driving growth in Asia Pacific, different drivers arise across the core Asian markets.

Japan is the number one sports nutrition country in the region, with $226 million in value sales in 2017. Obesity concerns, an increasing number of consumers joining sporting activities, and efforts led by the Japanese Sports Agency to ensure sports access to everyone are expected to continue to drive sports nutrition sales. Furthermore, Japanese women are changing their traditional beauty preferences. While maintaining a “skinny” physique used to be a health and beauty goal, more women in Japan these days are instead looking to build their muscle and athleticism. In other words, a “strong is the new skinny” trend is influencing demand for sports nutrition in general among women in Japan. This movement is also supported by social media influencers who promote their exercise routines on social platforms. And as Tokyo gets ready to host the 2020 Olympic Games, more Japanese consumers are developing an interest in different sports activities, which will also support further sports nutrition growth.

In China, the second largest sports nutrition market in Asia Pacific after Japan, value sales reached $206 million in 2017. In this market, demand is supported by the Chinese government which, in 2016, launched the National Fitness Program, encouraging consumers to participate in sports activities. Additionally, leading sports nutrition firms continue to educate and captivate a broader range of consumers beyond professional athletes, with companies also targeting-through strong social media marketing campaigns and at gyms-consumers who engage in recreational running, climbing, hiking, and ball sports.

Even though Japan was the top regional sports nutrition market in 2017, China is projected to surpass Japan’s sports nutrition sales and become the number one sports nutrition market in Asia by the end of 2018. Besides the drivers mentioned above, other factors pushing a rising China sports nutrition forecast include the growth of the middle class and an increase in particular in the number of Chinese women developing an interest in fitness.

Finally, cross-border e-commerce has generally benefitted the vitamin and dietary supplements space. Many Chinese consumers have been found to be more trusting of vitamin and dietary supplement brands that come from developed markets, favoring labels like “Product of the U.S.A.” and “Product of Australia.” This type of cross-border e-commerce is projected to develop further in the sports nutrition sector as well. E-commerce is also enabling this trend as distributors make it easier for sports nutrition consumers to access foreign products online by providing simple (and affordable) international shipping prices. Furthermore, Tmall, the main Chinese online retailer operated by Alibaba, continues to expand its cross-border e-commerce platform, enabling international brands to sell online directly to Chinese consumers.

While the core of sports nutrition value sales will continue to be in the U.S., Asia Pacific, specifically China and Japan, shows the most optimistic future scenario for sports nutrition growth. Fitness trends, social media campaigns, and government efforts will be key drivers of the industries there, and companies should look to take advantage of both the broader consumer base for sports nutrition and rising demand via cross-border e-commerce in China, especially targeting female consumers with rising incomes.


*All prices listed in USD

Carolina Ordonez is a senior consumer health analyst at Euromonitor International. She brings several years of work experience as a researcher, consultant, and speaker, having helped firms with strategy planning and business expansion throughout the Americas. In her current role, she provides insights on the latest trends in consumer health, including over-the-counter drugs (OTC), vitamins, dietary supplements, sports nutrition, and weight-management and wellbeing products. Ordonez also provides global expertise on wellness trends and the impact that digital consumer health is having on the industry and on the consumer experience. She holds a Master’s degree in International Management from University of Exeter in the UK.


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