Sports and protein products have emerged from being a niche market to become a mainstream product. Asian Trader discovers how indies can capitalise.

Sports and protein products, once solely consumed by bodybuilders and Olympic athletes, are now used by the UK’s everyday exercisers.
Mintel research found that as many as one in four (24%) Brits have consumed a sports nutrition product in the past three months, rising to 42% of men aged 16-24.
The sports drink market is performing well with 10% volume growth and 8% value growth in the last year. Lucozade Sport dominates sales, making up 68% of category volume.
There is a range of brands for shoppers to choose from, and outside of own label, Emerge Isotonics is the number two brand based on volume sales, according to James Logan, commercial director, Refresco UK.
Given that sports drinks are consumed when people are either due, are doing or have finished exercise it is no surprise that larger 500ml bottles dominate the category. The standard 500ml bottle makes up 68% of category value (64% of volume) with 4x 500ml multipack bottles making up 24%. (33% of volume).
Flavours tend to be very simple and traditional, with Orange making up 57% of the category and Raspberry 23% in value and 56% and 20% by volume.
Brands dominate the category making up 88% of sales value (78% of volume) and delivering 9% value growth (volume + 7%) in the last year.
Retailer own label accounts for 12% of the category value and 22% of volume sales. Value growth is less than brands at +3% though volume is 20% due to lower average prices across 500ml bottles.
The long term trend of health and wellbeing is continuing to grow in importance, says Logan.
Shoppers are actively looking to live healthier lives and to feel and look good, with exercise playing a key role in their lives.
This creates further opportunities for the sports and protein drinks categories to create drinks for post activity consumption or to fuel people whilst they exercise.
“Focus on original flavours in 500ml formats offering consumers a value and a premium choice,” Logan suggests. “To keep the category fresh, showcase new flavours, but not in depth as people are relatively conservative when it comes to sports drinks. Rotate stock so that sports drinks are highly visible and times of the day when shoppers will be looking for sports drinks, such as first thing in the morning and at the end of the day.”
Number one
Lucozade Sport, the best-selling sports drink in the category, should form the basis of any store’s soft drink range, says Scott Meredith, UK Sales Director, Lucozade Ribena Suntory.
Available in a range of core flavours and corresponding Low Cal variants in order to offer consumers a full range of choice, Lucozade Sport is a key sales driver to help retailers target sporty and active shoppers.
“Lucozade Sport Orange is the most popular flavour with shoppers so should command the biggest share of the sports drink category in the chiller,” comments Meredith. “However, retailers should also remember that Lucozade Sport Raspberry is the fastest-growing flavour in the range so is an important addition help attract new sales.”
Lucozade Sport Fitwater was launched in 2017 to help retailers grow their bottled water sales with a new functional offering. The drink contains four key electrolytes to help replenish consumers including magnesium that contributes to electrolyte balance and a reduction of fatigue, as well as calcium which helps normal muscle function.
After only just over a year on shelf, Lucozade Sport Fitwater is already the second biggest functional water on the market, worth almost £3.5M (IRI).
Driving force
Monster Energy, from Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), has been the driving force in the energy sector for a number of years and is now worth more than £200m in GB (Nielsen).
The reason for this success is threefold; CCEP’s investment into great tasting NPD including low and zero sugar variants, a core range which continues to grow, compelling marketing campaigns and sponsorship – all of which are proven to be effective in engaging Monster’s adult fan base.
“Innovation remains a key driver to the success of the energy sector and much of this is coming from a focus on low or zero sugar variants,” says Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP).
The Monster Energy Ultra range, which offers four fruit flavours with zero sugar, has seen a huge growth of over 112% in the last year (Nielsen), highlighting consumer demand.
To build on this success CCEP has added a fifth variant to the Ultra family, Monster Ultra Violet.
With its crisp, citrus grape flavour and zero-sugar credentials it is designed to appeal to millennials looking for a sugar-free energy kick.
Monster Energy Ultra Violet is Soft Drinks Tax exempt, as is the full Monster Ultra range.
Monster builds on the success of its Punch variant which was the second highest contributor to Energy Sector growth in 2017 (Nielsen). A refreshing, tropical blend of passionfruit, pineapple and guava, Pipeline Punch is made with 16% real fruit juice and delivers more flavour variety to the energy sector.
Flavoured energy drinks have grown by over £24million in GB with consumers stating that taste is the main factor when buying an energy drink (Nielsen).
“This demonstrates that the consumer demand for flavours is there and Monster Energy’s new, unique variants will help retailers tap into this and attract new people into the category,” comments Burgess.
Taste is one of the main factors consumers consider when purchasing energy drinks and there has been an increasing demand for more flavour options in the sector. Growing by over £24million in GB (Nielsen), flavour innovation in energy drinks are driving sales and enabling brands to reach new audiences.
In 2018, CCEP launched Monster Mango Loco, the next variant in our Monster Juiced range to bring more variety to the market and help retailers tap into demand for fruity flavours.
In fact, the juiced energy sector is growing twice as fast as the total energy sector to be worth £20million (Nielsen), showing an opportunity for retailers to maximise on the trend.
Monster Mango Loco offers consumers a tropical flavoured energy boost with real mango, guava and pineapple juice.
Taste and refreshment
“NPD and key trends such as low kcal certainly have a place and will continue to grow, however core still remains crucial to category success,” comments Mark Bell, Strategy and Planning Manager at Red Bull UK. “Taste and refreshment are always going to be key drivers in the sports and energy market. Busier lifestyles and increasingly time-poor consumers, however, mean that the market is looking for more all the time. Products that deliver added value for a range of occasions, such as multi-vitamins, protein or a functional energy boost, continue to be popular.”
With the heightened importance placed on the health agenda over the past year and the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in place, consumers are swaying more towards sugar free options.
“Therefore it is imperative that retailers offer a low kcal alternative – meaning that a higher proportion of space is being dedicated to low kcal products,” Bell suggests.
Diet is worth £144 million, which equates to 11.3% of the sports and energy category, increasing by 1.7% from last year (IRI).
Growing at 7% to £31.9m, Red Bull Sugarfree 250ml is the number one low kcal sports and energy drink. The extension of the Red Bull Sugarfree range is designed to drive value within the energy drinks category, with the brand new range offering choice and removing the current taste and health barriers to trial.
“Red Bull understands that space can be a big challenge for retailers as many look to consolidate their range in-store,” Bell adds. “Red Bull advises operators to stock the most efficient range to drive the greatest value, whilst category space should be aligned with share of sales to maximise sales.”
Stocking the packs from the bestselling brand and sugar free options, such as Red Bull’s Sugarfree 355ml, which continues to perform well despite flat distribution in 2017, and has grown 65.9% vs YA2, and Red Bull Energy 250ml, the number one single serve soft drink, worth £137.5m and growing +3% (IRI) will help maximise sales with limited space.
Overall, Red Bull is growing +8.4% in value and +12% in volume4, performing well across all channels within the UK, in particular take home, +8.0% value, and symbols, +7.0% value, (IRI).
Red Bull value growth is being driven by the iconic 250ml Energy Drink pack, Sugarfree range and Energy Drink alternative size options, all up +7.7%, +14.9% and +26.1% respectively vs YA.
As the number one single serve soft drink, Red Bull Energy 250ml is a must stock for retailers planning their sports and energy offering.
Alongside Energy, customers are demanding a sugar free alternative.
Growing at 7.1% to £31.9m, Red Bull Sugarfree 250ml is the number one low kcal sports and energy drink in the UK (IRI).
Red Bull Energy is also available in 355ml and 473ml cans, with 355ml growing value at +27.6% and 473ml at +5.4%8 completing the brand’s Core 4 offering.
Protein bars
The protein bar market is currently worth £51m and is rapidly growing to keep up with the changing needs of the consumers. The market is increasing by 54% YOY, driven by changing lifestyles and tastes, as consumers look for ways to boost energy while balancing their diet (Nielsen).
Research shows that 83% of consumers have admitted that they are interested in protein but are not prepared to sacrifice on taste.
With the average person needing to consume 45 to 55 grams of protein a day, Mondelēz International is helping to meet the needs of consumers with its latest innovation, Cadbury Boost + Protein which is loaded with an added 12 grams of protein per bar.
Cadbury Boost + Protein contains four times more protein and 32% less sugar than a standard Boost bar, offering a better snacking opportunity with no compromise on taste. This has been achieved by replicating the crunchy biscuit texture, associated with Cadbury Boost, using whey crisps which are high in protein.
The product, which is the same chewy caramel taste, presents a great opportunity to drive category penetration and frequency by attracting consumers looking for ‘better for you’ snacking choices and inspiring trade up.
Richard Weisinger senior brand manager for Cadbury singles commented: “Our recipe had fantastic results in consumer taste tests vs competitors, with liking scores on par with standard Boost. With this strong consumer feedback, we believe this offer can attract consumers who want the best of both worlds – extra Protein and taste.”