Performance nutrition has something for everybody

Nutritional OutlookNutritional Outlook Vol. 27 No. 1
Volume 27
Issue 1

The demographics of the sports nutrition category are broadening as more women and aging adults utilize the products to meet their own health goals.

Photo © Shevchuk

Photo © Shevchuk

It should be no surprise that performance nutrition remains a top-selling category of the dietary supplement industry. Long-standing ingredients such as protein and creatine, as well as a consistent and well-educated consumer base of athletes and fitness enthusiasts have really contributed to the category’s longevity. According to data from SPINS, based on the 52 weeks ending December 3, 2023, in the U.S. mainstream supplement channel, performance nutrition was the fifth best-selling category of the channel, with $758 million is sale, and experienced nearly 28% sales growth compared to the previous year. In 2022, based on the 52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2022, the category ranked seventh in the mainstream supplement channel, and experienced almost 19% sales growth.

Within the performance nutrition category, all except one of the top ten best-selling ingredients experienced double, and even triple-digit sales growth. Whey and milk protein and caffeine, for example, experienced 178% and 376% sales growth, respectively. In the channel, overall, the top three best selling ingredients were protein ingredients with the combination of animal and plant protein leading the pack with $1.6 billion in sales.

“When we look at the overall landscape of the consumer, there’s a few things that are playing a role and one of them is this mentality shift into health span,” explains Scott Dicker, market insights director of SPINS. “So, people are looking to stay active for as long as possible. And this brings consumers into the category that are not looking to put an extra 50 pounds on their bench, they just want to be active and stay active as long as possible, so that demographic alone is coming in.”

Beyond a wider age range of consumers embracing fitness as a way to stay healthy rather than bulk up or compete, the category is becoming more inclusive of women. “We’re seeing a lot of the marketing has softened to be more inclusive for women. We’re seeing product sets specifically designed by and for women, which is, you know, in the scheme of things, doubling the market opportunity for a category that is historically been very male centric,” says Dicker.

Crucially, Dicker points out that as a long-established category, its core consumers are getting older, and continuing to embrace these products to support their aging bodies and stay healthy. “What used to be like a very hyper focused on one demographic, it’s really opened up and people are comfortable in the category now. There’s no sticker shock for it,” he says. He adds that it used to be difficult to get older consumers to buy performance nutrition products like protein or creatine because they were associated with young athletes. “But now people have been using it for so long that the age bracket is expanding. They’re comfortable with the delivery formats, they’re comfortable in the category.”

To learn more about our Ingredients to Watch, listen to our conversation with SPIN's director of market insights, Scott Dicker, on The Nutritional Outlook Podcast.
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