When it comes to sports nutrition and (more specifically) sports supplements, 2016 has been an exciting year! We’ve covered hundreds of stories since January and now, in the spirit of the season, we’ve decided to start our series of 2016 recaps with a breakdown of some of  what we saw play out in the world of sports nutrition in 2016.

NutraScience Labs’ Best of 2016: Sports Nutrition Supplement Trends

After taking a step back, we’ve gathered up our top three sports nutrition takeaways…

Trend #1: Protein is still the “king” of sports nutrition, but…

Protein is still king, but with a catch...

There’s no denying that protein remains the undisputed “king” of the sports nutrition world. That being said, there’s also no denying that the way that protein rules the sports nutrition market has undergone some significant changes over the last 12 months.

So, what’s the most significant change we’ve witnessed? Plant-based alternatives.

The demand for non-dairy, vegetarian, and vegan protein options has continued to sky-rocket throughout 2016. If we choose to take a look at some of the data provided by Google Trends, it’ becomes clear that this demand for alternatives to casein and whey protein options isn’t necessarily new.

Over the last five years, search interest in “vegan protein” and “vegetarian protein” have both experienced significant year-over-year growth (even with some slight fluctuations in interest over the course of any given year).

Reports from Euromonitor and Innova Marketing Insights (among others) have suggested, time and again, that the demand for proteins and alternative proteins won’t be going anywhere as we make out way into 2017.

Trend #2: You don’t have to be an athlete to use sports nutrition products.

sports_nutrition_trends_casual_consumers

2016 has also been the year of the “casual” consumer. Compared to the core sports nutrition demographic (of the serious or professional athlete), “casual” consumers tend to engage in physical activities on a recreational basis (e.g. things like a weekend sports team or regular trips to the gym).

Compared to years past, 2016 was a standout year when it came to how sports nutrition brands and companies tried to reach these new consumer demographics.

Long gone of the days of simplistic, “one size fits all” sports nutrition.

By catering to unique demographics, sports nutrition companies have significantly increased their earning potential. Among others, here are just a few of the niche markets we’ve seen gain additional attention over the past year:

  • Seniors/Baby Boomers (particularly those “active” individuals looking to maintain an independent lifestyle).
  • Women (these campaigns have included everything from protein powders to probiotics).
  • Vegetarian and Vegan Consumers (see previous section about the demand for plant-based alternatives).

Given the success that the industry has had so far, we should be surprised to see the sports nutrition market grow even more diverse in 2017.

Trend #3: Demand for “clean label” sports nutrition products is on the rise.

sports_nutrition_trends_clean_labelAnother key player in the world of sports nutrition (and the world of dietary supplements as a whole) has been the consumer-driven demand for shorter formulas that rely on minimally processed, “clean” ingredients.

Falling hand-in-hand with the demand for plant-based and other protein alternatives, consumer interest in “clean label” products has been climbing steadily over the last eight years.

This push for simpler ingredients and clean label products has also been seen by many as a direct result of the transparency issues that have affected the dietary supplement industry as a whole.

Along with regulatory changes, these proactive efforts on the part of brands and manufacturers is a crucial step in building long lasting relationships and trust with consumers.
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