Food Matters Live/European Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) seminar

I attended the ESNA seminar on Friday 16th September.

Very encouraging presentations covering legislation, innovation and trends in the sports nutrition industry.  The content showed that we are on the right track with Elementary superfood, and that these active nutrition based supplements are growing against pure protein as the consumer fitness market evolves and becomes more sophisticated...  

Notes of interest:


Prof. Adam Carey – Chairman, The European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA)

Melanie Felgate – Canadean (progressive media solutions). Understanding consumer and innovation trends in active nutrition.

Rachel Rowntree – Wide Eyed Owl. The sports nutrition consumer – who they are & where they are going.

Roel van Dam – VP Sales, VSI – Your Bar. Current trends in sports nutrition – mainstream, European markets, and what’s next



On average:
30% of consumers of sports nutrition products don’t do regular exercise
41% interviewees are trying to lose weight
60% rely on time saving products & services
42% claim to proactively use products to improve health
Source: Canadean Sports Supplements global survey 2014. 50,000 respondents across 25 countries


Of those who consume sports supplements at least once per week:
38% are trying to lose weight
37% are trying to maintain their weight
12% are trying to gain weight
Source: Canadean Sports Supplements global survey 2014. 50,000 respondents across 25 countries



Consumers actively using food and drink to improve health:
18-34 years   62%
35-54 years   59%
55+ years       58%
Source: Canadean Sports Supplements global survey 2014. 50,000 respondents across 25 countries


Consumers’ preferred format for health-enhancing ingredients:
Food                61%
Drink              18%
Pill/tablet       14%
Gummies        5%
Powder only  2%
Source: Canadean Sports Supplements global survey 2014. 50,000 respondents across 25 countries


Active consumers* think the following protein sources have a positive impact on health:

  • Almonds 82%
  • Oat protein 68%
  • Pulses 66%
  • Peanuts 64%
  • Soy protein 63%
  • Pea protein 52%
  • Whey protein 46%

*Source: Canadean global survey 2015. Active consumers defined as those who exercise at least once per week


The sports nutrition consumer history:

Original – Body builders. All about the gym and muscle building. Training program. Originally young men. Use Protein & creatine supplements, very loyal to original product.

Growing – Fitness enthusiasts.
Athletic, cardio and circuit mix. Train frequently. 25yrs +. Mix of men & women. Calendar of events (endurance, triathlon, runs, walks, etc). Cycle to work. Interested in boosting nutrition. Flexible product and brand selection. Distrust “body builder” nutrition. Follow mainstream trends and seek innovation.


Occasional athletic - Lifestylers.
Participate in some cycling/walking/running events, or regularly engage as part of normal routine. Variety of pursuits. Seeking new products and brands with nutrition and pre/post workout focus. Taste, packaging & marketing highly influential. This segment presents the largest growth opportunity for active nutrition.


Growing consumer – weight management.
Newer to category. Using sports nutrition partly to control weight. Dip in & out. Combine with other ideas. Loyal if product works, although promiscuous seeking the “wonder product” (SW innovation).


Untapped consumer – older adult.
Scientific research proves that older adults (65+) require more protein.
High disposable income and growing interest in active and tactical nutrition and age support.       
Elementary Vital target demographic includes
“Jungle Lions” Serious about sport and looking good. Slight male bias. Mean age of 39 with 69% ABC1. More likely to be in full time employment, with some children living at home. Household income starts at GBP37k. Spend a lot of time keeping in shape and following a healthy lifestyle. Image is important and they like to stand out in a crowd. Enjoy travel, fashionable bars & restaurants & have a keen sense of adventure. They are prepared to pay for products that make life easier, and feel reassured by expert endorsement.



  • Older adults are engaging more – growth sector with high disposable income.
  • Purpose driven nutrition is growing – tactical nutrition for defined results.
  • Increased market for pre-workout products (especially for women)
  • 52+ age group requiring increased protein (+20% can decrease stroke risk by up to 50%).
  • Over 65s are a growing market, have high disposable income and appreciate brand reassurance and interaction. Seeking sports, health and rehab support.
  • Increase in plant based protein sources.
  • Increase in oat sourced ingredients, plant proteins, nuts & pulses


“The future of energy and recovery foods designed for athletes and others who are physically active appears to be dominated by savoury flavours & ingredients”.

Source: Packaged Facts, March 2015

 “Within 5 years the sports nutrition market will be dominated by new brands as older brands don’t drive innovation and will have major issues at that time”. 

Source: Investor at a sports nutrition conference.
  •  Popular diets – paleo, vegan, vegetarian
  • Increased demand for savoury options as opposed to current sweet & fruit based choices.
  • Nutrition bars – convenient however many are high in sugar and even contain palm oil. Even Mars and snickers have launched protein (20g) versions.
  • Distribution channels - typically
         Online 32%
         Retail 68%
  • The market is evolving rapidly.
  • Nutrition focus (as against pure protein) will increase and natural products more favoured.
  • Increased botanicals - made from, or containing plants
  • Reduction of artificial sweeteners
  • Semi professional group will increase, eg., massive increase in people running & cycling. Trust is key.
  • Fibre is predicted to overtake protein. Trend for ceasing bread intake will lead to diminished fibre and increased demand for alternatives.
  • `Free from, natural, gluten free, lactose free, palm oil, GM, “anything” free are buzzwords 
  • Sustainability of as many aspects of the business as possible is beneficial and authentic. 
  • Be careful of excessive ingredients, eg., egg protein, soy, rice protein, whey protein. Moderation and variety are key.
  • Keep moving – the market keeps on reinventing itself!



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