New research from Mintel has underscored the growing popularity of sports nutrition products in the UK, with demand for such items now coming from everyday exercisers as well as professional athletes.
Mintel found that 24% of Brits have consumed a sports nutrition product (muscle milks, protein bars and energy gels) in the past 3 months, with that figure rising to 42% of men aged 16-24. It also found that UK consumers spent £66m on sports nutrition food and drink products in 2015, up by 27% from 2013. Importantly, 47% of consumers who use the products say these are part of their everyday diet.
The report found that young consumers and high-earners are the core users of these products. 31% of UK consumers with a household income of over £50,000 have consumer such products in the past three months. These groups are also the most likely to be keen exercisers – while 50% of Brits say they exercise for 30 minutes more than once a week, this rises to 64% of UK consumers aged 16-24 and 63% of those with a household income of over £50,000.
The top two sports nutrition products used are protein based – during the period, 9% of Brits have eaten protein bars and 9% have used protein powders. However, it’s not only sports nutrition products that are bulking up with protein. According to Mintel GNPD (Global New Products Database), the number of food and drink products launched in the UK with a high-protein claim rose by 97% between 2014 and 2015 and 498% between 2010 and 2015.
Outside of sports nutrition products, 25% of UK consumers have consumed any high-protein food and drink in the past three months, rising to 35% of people who exercise at least once a week. 36% of adults believe there are at least three separate advantages to eating or drinking high-protein products – getting enough protein (41%), generally supporting a healthy lifestyle (37%), and helping keep fuller for longer (36%). What’s more, 25% of consumers who use these products say they do so to lose or maintain weight.
While consumers who don’t see any benefit of high-protein products are in the minority at just 29%, 37% of Brits say the current focus on high-protein diets is just a fad. On the other hand, 28% say there aren’t enough high-protein prepared meals, while 24% would be interested in adding protein powder to meals to increase their protein intake.