Sports Nutrition: Why Asia-Pacific is the world’s fastest growing market

A country-by-country analysis of regional opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a shift in lifestyle choices across the globe. The sports nutrition segment has seen soaring growth as consumers are now more focused on and aware of their overall health and fitness. The global sports nutrition market was nearly US$45 billion in 2021; however, it is now expected to reach US$72.5 billion, growing at a rate of 10%, by the year 2026.

The largest market for sports nutrition is North America, but sales in this region are anticipated to grow slowly for the next five years. On the flip side, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region has emerged as the fastest growing region, seeing enlargement of the sports industry and increased demand for health and fitness products. Countries like Australia, China, and India account for around 80% of the APAC sports nutrition market in terms of product launches, due to a surge in demand. The APAC sports nutrition market is expected to grow at a rate of 9.5% to reach US$15 billion by 2026, with Australia leading the market share along with India and China.

In terms of sports nutrition production, countries like China, Australia, the U.S., and New Zealand are leading with 60%-70% of the share combined. Given the growing demand, India will see a probable increase in the local production of these products.

Advancement in Key APAC Regions

The market dynamics and trends in the sports nutrition segment are evolving rapidly with respect to demand and production. Here is a country-by-country overview.

Australia

Australia is the leading country in the APAC region, capturing nearly 35% of the sports nutrition market. Sports nutrition sales will grow substantially here, with a consumer base that is rapidly evolving due to the reopening of health and fitness centers.

Almost 50% of the sports nutrition products seeing rising demand in Australia are produced locally. The remaining 50% demand is met by products being imported from countries like the U.S. and New Zealand, which accounts for almost 70% of the total imports. Meanwhile, Australia exports sports supplement products to countries like China, Vietnam, and South Korea.

In terms of sports nutrition category sales, sports food captures the largest share in Australia due to the high demand for protein bars. The key driver is the increased demand of the population for low-carb, low-fat, and protein-rich products that promote overall health and wellness.

China

The ongoing execution of China’s National Nutrition Plan (2017-2030) and the Healthy China 2030 initiative will help propel sports fitness and thereby draw high demand for sports nutrition products. As quoted by the Chinese data, the fitness clubs of China generated the highest revenue in the world for sports nutrition products during the year 2020.

Accounting for nearly 70% of the global sports nutrition demand, sports nutrition production in China is self-sufficient, meeting the national requirement. The production expansion in China is evident as it emerges as the major production hub not only in the APAC region but all over the globe. As far as importing products, Poland and the U.S. have a share of around 75% of the total imported goods.

Amongst all categories, the demand for sports nutrition drinks has been constantly increasing due to their evident health benefits over carbonated beverages and how they help to replenish the fluid balance. On the ingredients side, frequent demand for natural ingredients and innovative flavors has led to increased use of botanical herbs/spices and plant-based ingredients in the country.

India

Australia and China are the prominent markets of the APAC region, but India is the fastest growing market. With an annual growth rate of 9%, the Indian sports nutrition market captures more than 25% share of the APAC market. Products like whey protein and BCAAs are gaining popularity, along with convenience foods and high demand for replacing regular chocolate bars with a healthy alternative.

Currently, India is heavily dependent on imports for meeting its requirement, and only one-fourth of its products are met by local production. However, with an increase in demand, local production of these products is expected to rise.

With regards to product categories, sports beverages are the leading segment in India, covering nearly 50% of the market. This surely owes to their ability to provide instant hydration when being added to essential nutrition required for intense exercise. The demand for sports food is growing at a significantly high rate due to the surge in demand for energy or nutritional bars by regular consumers and not just athletes. This can be attributed to bars’ multinutritional composition, ease of consumption, and ability to act as a healthy replacement for a regular snacking bar.

Furthermore, plant-based sports nutrition products see a high demand due to the veganism trend and an expanded population becoming vegetarians and flexitarians.

Overall, the market would witness high growth in the sports nutrition segment, together with increased use of plant-based ingredients like soy, pea protein, etc.

Future Growth

The sports nutrition segment ought to grow tremendously in the APAC region due to high demand, innovation possibilities, and production opportunities. Besides, by increasing the self-sufficiency of markets like China and India, the market volume as well as the value of the sports nutrition products will accelerate, impacting the overall regional growth.

Sports beverages capture nearly 50%-60% of the APAC region’s sports nutrition sales; however, the sports food section will experience high demand in the convenience food channel. All this and an increased number of innovations will heavily support the growth of sports nutrition products in the APAC region.

About the author:

Himani Mainali (himani.mainali@chembizr.com) is an associate consultant, food and nutrition, for ChemBizR. ChemBizR is a boutique business research and consulting partner of chemical companies globally, involved in addressing companies’ critical business challenges and strategic growth initiatives to help them transform their enterprise for sustainable growth in a highly competitive and rapidly evolving environment. For more information, e-mail connect@chembizr.com.