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Growth of the Sports Nutrition Market

Last updated: August-29,2022

Growth of the Sports Nutrition Market

Sports Nutrition Market Research

Up until the last decade, bodybuilders and athletes were the core users of sports nutrition products. However, in recent years, the sports nutrition market has dramatically changed as more recreational and lifestyle users have turned to sports nutrition products to help meet their goals for optimal health.

Defining Recreational and Lifestyle Users

Recreational users are defined as those who engage in sports over the weekend. They are non-professional athletes who may not want to engage in intensive, competitive exercise but are fitness enthusiasts, nonetheless. Conversely, lifestyle users are not necessarily engaged in sports activities but use sports nutrition to boost daily nutrition and promote health and wellness. They may take an energy drink, a refreshing beverage, a meal replacement or a healthy snack to meet their lifestyle needs. 1

Although they are slightly different markets, both recreational and lifestyle users purchase sports nutrition products for:

  • Boosting physical and mental performance
  • Enhancing energy levels
  • Increasing their daily protein intake
  • Keeping healthy and staying in shape

As you may have expected, lifestyle users form the mainstream and are the fastest growing market. While hardcore athletes remain the best evaluators of sports nutrition products, they account for only 5 percent of the total sales in sports nutrition (according to The Nutrition Business Journal, NBJ). 2

Sports Nutrition Research Suggests That 2011 Was a Period of Significant Growth for the Industry

Latest sports nutrition research suggests that the market grew significantly between 2009 and 2011. It grew 9 percent in 2010 (recording $19 billion in retail sales) and in 2011, retail sales rose to $21.4 billion. During the last decade the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the sport nutrition sector was 10 percent. 3-4 That's two times the CAGR of dietary supplements as a whole.

Sports nutrition products are divided into 3 categories as follows:

  • Sports foods such as snack bars and nutrition gels. Retail sales were valued at $2.8 billion in 2011, a 13 percent increase from the previous year.
  • Sports beverages such as energy drinks went up by 15 percent from the previous year and were valued at $15 billion in retail sales in 2011.
  • Sports nutrition supplements such as fat burners, protein powders, weight gainers, meal replacements, muscle enhancers, and energy products in a variety of delivery formats (i.e. tablets, dissolvable strips, powders, ready to drink formulas (RTD), etc.). Retails sales of sports nutrition supplements was up 10 percent from the previous year and was valued at $3.6 billion in 2011.

Channel Diversification

It's interesting to note that 3 channels accounted for nearly all the growth: 5

  • Mass Market Retail: Retail sales were up by 15% ($16 billion)
  • Natural/Specialty Retail: This channel grew about 10% ($3 billion)
  • Internet: Retail sales in this category grew by 22% ($710 million). Growth here is attributed to the convenience of online purchasing, the instant availability of informational resources, product reviews and real-time customer service.

Evolving Delivery Systems

Supplement business owners can no longer exclusively cater to the needs of hardcore athletes who are willing to go through the trouble of blending up their favorite supplement products and carrying them throughout the day. Lifestyle users constitute the main consumer market and they prefer convenience. As a result the market is ready for:

  • More products in RTD format
  • Innovative delivery systems
  • Sales of sports nutrition powders currently account for over $3 billion in retail sales. More consumers are aware of the benefits of protein intake. Whey protein is the most popular choice, but consumers are also becoming aware of the benefits of cheaper plant or vegetable-based protein sources like hemp, peas, soy and rice.
  • More safe-to-use science-backed products formulated to meet the needs of lifestyle users.
  • Many ingredients now have strong backing from science and human clinical trials.
  • More organic/natural sports catering to back-to-basic consumer trends with traditional ingredients like basic proteins, honey and milk.
  • More products which are free of allergens, sugar, gluten, chemicals. In the past, these have attracted more sales.

Challenges for Supplement Business Owners

The sports nutrition sector has had its share of negative publicity due to adulterated products containing banned ingredients like anabolic steroids, stimulants and prohormones.

On the bright side, the FDA is taking aggressive steps to prevent products containing harmful ingredients from entering the marketplace. In addition to these regulatory services, high standards of formulation and product quality are being maintained by most nutraceutical manufacturers. Supplement companies have begun investing in third-party certification.

The NSF International's Certified for Sport was created to ensure that supplement label facts match the actual constituents in the product thus protecting against adulteration and identifying banned ingredients. The NSF GMP certification process indicates that a manufacturer has gone through a stringent manufacturing audit process to meet the guidelines set by NSF. 6

All of NutraScience Labs' Manufacturing Services are Completed in GMP Certified Facilities

When you partner with NutraScience Labs, you can rest assured that all of your capsule, tablet, and powder products are being manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities that are GMP Certified by NSF.

We also provide you with in-house packaging and labeling, and order fulfillment services that are proven to save you time and money and may help you get your product to market faster than your competitors, putting your brand at a competitive advantage!

For more information about our services, call (855) 492-7388 to speak with one of our knowledgeable Production Specialists. Or if you're ready with your requirements and are ready to create your own product based on the latest sports nutrition news, submit your request to receive a free nutraceutical manufacturing quote in 48 hours.


1. http://www.ats.agr.gc.ca/inter/5569-eng.htm

2. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/2142454/nbj_2012_sports_nutrition_and_weight_loss.pdf

3. Ibid.

4. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/693986/nbjs_sports_nutrition_and_weight_loss_report_2009

5. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/2142454/nbj_2012_sports_nutrition_and_weight_loss.pdf

6. February 3, 2012, NewHope 360.

September 4th, 2012

About the Author:

Andrew Goldman

Andrew Goldman is the Vice President of Marketing for NutraScience Labs. In this role, he leverages his 15+ years of B2B inbound marketing experience to develop cutting edge strategies for our firm. A health and fitness enthusiast, Andrew and his team won the 2012 Stevie Award for Marketing Team of the Year. He is also a two-time Best In Biz Silver Award winner for Marketing Executive of the Year and has received other honors and accolades for his website design work.