New research from Mintel has found that more Americans now use nutritional and performance drinks as a replacement for meals.
The report found that 39% of those polled replace breakfast with such drinks, 58% use such drinks as a meal replacement, and 48% consumer them as part of a meal (up from 20% in 2012).
Additionally, 69% said nutritional and performance drinks are a more effective source of nutrients, while 79% said they are more convenient than whole foods. 40% said they consumer such drinks before, during or after exercising; while 80% considered them as a great guilt-free snack. Overall, 88% agreed that nutritional and performance drinks help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Nutritional and performance drinks are also gaining a larger market share of the overall category, which also includes sports drinks and weight loss drinks. From 2010-2015, performance drinks experienced 86% sales growth, while nutritional drinks saw 67% growth. The overall market grew 38%, reaching $13bn in 2015.
While sales of sports drinks grew 22% from 2010-2015, weight loss drinks experienced growth of just 5%, caused by shifts in consumer dieting habits. Further, just 12% of consumers purchase weight loss drinks in comparison to the 32% of Americans who buy nutritional drinks.
However, despite being viewed favourably by consumers, other drink categories pose a threat to nutritional and performance drinks’ success. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), from March 2015 to February 2016, 34% of energy drink launches in the US featured a functional claim. Over that same span, functional positioning has also been utilized in new product launches of juice/juice drinks (24%), water (17%) and coffee/tea (16%).
Overall, when purchasing nutritional and performance drinks, the most important factors for US consumers are favourite flavour (41%), amount of protein (40%), and high fibre (33%).