Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line

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    Soft drinks and snacks are good but going a few steps ahead and keeping sports and protein products can give a much-needed boost to your store- a winning edge that not only will uplift sales but also will establish your place as a destination store among youngsters and health-conscious shoppers alike.

    Sports and protein products have gained significant popularity over the last few years, reflecting a growing interest in fitness and overall well-being.

    Sport drinks have been performing well since the pandemic. This means big business for the convenience sector, with sports-and-energy drinks sitting amid the top three categories in the channel with a total sales value of £817.9million, according to IRI data for symbols and independents.

    It is exciting that sports nutrition products have become more popular over the past few years. Sports drinks are increasingly taking up more shelf space on store shelves, creating a further interest among shoppers, particularly millennials and Gen Z.

    According to an analysis of key European data by IRI, volume sales of water-based drinks have grown by 3.4 per cent, the equivalent of 1.7 billion units. The growth was mainly driven by sports and energy drinks that saw 9.7 per cent average growth while carbonates saw 0.6 per cent increase and 4.2 per cent for water.

    Moreover, people are becoming more aware of what’s in the products they buy, which has made clean-label sports drinks sell better in the country. With the rising health concerns, there has been an increased demand for nutrition-filled, low-calorie sports drinks made from natural ingredients such as stevia, a healthier sugar alternative.

    Additionally, protein supplements, including protein powders, bars, and shakes, too are widely consumed by individuals looking to meet their protein requirements for muscle building and recovery.

    Such products, such as protein bars and shakes, offer a convenient and portable source of protein. This is especially appealing to individuals with busy lifestyles who may not have the time to prepare protein-rich meals.

    Clearly, a wholesome range of sports drinks and protein products on display can not only boost sales but it can also make your store a go-to destination for the younger set of population as well as health freaks.

    Sweat to sparkle

    The sports drinks segment has continued to deliver significant value for retailers recently, acting as a real driver for the soft drinks category. In fact, sports drinks are growing ahead of the category, currently seeing 51 per cent value sales growth and 30.4 per cent volume sales growth in the convenience channel.

    “Launched in March, Lucozade Sport Zero Sugar is already driving new shoppers to the category as well as boosting soft drink shoppers’ existing spend. The brand has delivered over £8.5m in sales and is over-indexing versus the category average, and is also 55 per cent incremental to the soft drinks category as a whole,” Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Wholesale, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, tells Asian Trader.

    The total soft drinks market continues to grow and is now worth more than £10 billion, maintaining its spot as a top three categories in convenience. Within the soft drinks category, Sports and Energy account for £817.9m.

    When taking a closer look into the energy sub-categories, it’s energy stimulation drinks which play a significant role, growing +15 per cent YoY, and accounting for 26 per cent of all soft drink value sales.

    Boost is a brand to vouch for when it comes to energy stimulation drinks and sports drinks. Within this, Boost is the third largest brand in the energy stimulation category and the number one fastest growing sports brand.

    Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line

    As the nation has become accustomed to flexi-working following the pandemic, take-home purchases have become more prominent, resulting in a growing consumer demand for 1litre and multi-pack formats. Simultaneously, shoppers continue to seek ready-to-drink, on-the-go quality energy options at everyday value prices.

    Boost Original Energy is available in 1litre, 500ml and 250ml, and is rated best in taste. The range of flavour profiles and pack sizes on offer from Boost allows retailers to cater to an array of consumption moments, whether on the move or stocking up to enjoy at home.

    Adrian Hipkiss, Marketing Director at Boost, states, “Boost Red Berry is the largest selling 250ml Stimulation Flavour SKU. However, considering the fact that 39 per cent of Stimulation shoppers actually make their purchase based on flavour alone, it’s important to stock a wide variety of flavours to cater to this.”

    Boost has recently launched its reformulated 250ml Lemon & Lime Energy (previously Citrus Zing). The beverage is a zingy fusion of lemon and lime, adding another point-of-difference against current single-flavour SKUs in the category.

    “Available in 75p price-marked packs, the product continues to enable retailers to communicate great value amidst increased consumer price-consciousness, whilst still delivering excellent margins, something to which Boost remains committed,’ Hipkiss tells Asian Trader.

    Sitting at the forefront of the category’s growth pattern with its +6 per cent value growth YOY, Boost Sport is currently one of the leadings portsdrink brands in value and volume.

    As consumers are increasingly turning to sports drinks that deliver on quality whilst not compromising on cost, it’s important for retailers to take into consideration consumer behavior and the two main drivers behind purchase for Sports Drinks – ‘taste’ and ‘value’, Hipkiss states.

    Boost Sports recently launched Raspberry & Mango which is already hugely popular.

    “Through careful flavour selection when planning the NPD, the new product complimented the remaining range rather than cannibalising it, meaning customer favourites such as Boost Sports Orange and Boost Sports Mixed Berry were not adversely affected,” Martin Rice, Operations Director at Green Field Marketing, told Asian Trader.

    Performing much like its namesake, Monster is another noteworthy energy drink to stock.

    To help retailers tap into Monster fans’ love of extreme sports, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) has launched a brand-new X Games experience promotion for its Monster Energy brand. Live now until the end of April, the new X Games promotion features the iconic Monster Original variant, worth £133.6m in retail, and Monster’s biggest innovation in 20 years, Monster Zero Sugar, to drive maximum engagement with shoppers.

    Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line

    Promotional POS kits, featuring striking Monster cans alongside some of Monster’s own X Games athletes, are guaranteed to stand out, excite fans and drive sales in-store. Convenience retailers can request POS materials and digital assets from and also enter a Monster merchandise competition on the website until the end of March.

    Another must-stock option in this segment is C4 Energy, one of the leading performance energy brands. C4 Energy is a globally recognized brand dedicated to providing high-quality mental and performance energy designed to fuel athletes, fitness enthusiasts and active lifestyles. With a commitment to innovation, C4 Energy’s products are backed by science, making them a top choice for those aiming to reach their goals.

    C4 Energy has recently collaborated with confectionery brand millions to combine the best of taste and performance, creating an unrivalled experience for fitness enthusiasts and sweets lovers alike.

    Launching with two of millions’ best-selling flavours – Bubblegum and Strawberry, the iconic C4 Performance Energy drink is infused with the irresistible flavours of millions sweets.

    With this groundbreaking collaboration, C4 Energy and millions aim to provide a new level of enjoyment during one’s active and on-the-go routine. Each flavour offers a distinctive nostalgic taste profile that will transport the consumers back to their childhood whilst fueling their routine, in and out of the gym.

    “We are thrilled to partner with millions to bring an entirely new level of flavour innovation to our loyal customers as well as attract new consumers to the C4 Energy brand who perhaps remember Millions from growing up,” Paul Coppin, C4 Energy – Marketing Director for Europe, tells Asian Trader.

    “With this collaboration, we aim to redefine the energy drinks market by offering a unique and enjoyable experience that complements our consumers’ active lifestyles, whether that be in or out of the gym.”

    When talking about sports drinks, one cannot overlook the energy drinks section as the two sub-segments go hand in hand and often supplement one another. According to Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review 2023, energy drinks has lately been the star performer, responsible for a huge £96.9m (28 per cent) of the category’s £347.4m growth.

    Energy drinks now account for a third of convenience pop sales. Energy drinks rule supreme in c-store chillers. Energy drinks are flying high, and we’ve also seen that adding interesting, limited-edition flavours in the store can drive impulse sales when it comes to on-the-go formats.

    According to Statista, Red Bull is the leading energy drink brand in convenience stores by retail sales revenue. Statista also says that Red Bull is the most well-known energy drink brand in the UK, with a brand awareness of 94 per cent, closely followed by Monster.

    Barr Soft Drinks’ Rubicon Raw and Irn-Bru Energy are also quite popular and sure shot products to generate sales.

    And how can we miss PRIME?

    Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line
    (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

    The drinks brand – founded by two popular YouTube influencers Logan Paul and KSI – caused a craze when it was released in 2022. The original drink was essentially a coconut water-based soft drink, but soon, an energy drink was added to the range.

    PRIME is wildly popular, with tweens bartering for it in schoolyards, parents clamoring for cases at local retailers, and even there is a hint of a burgeoning black market for discontinued or hard-to-find flavors. PRIME has now captured a clutch spot in the hydration beverage market, second only to Pepsi-owned Gatorade.

    The drink comes in flavors such as Lemonade, Ice Pop, Meta Moon, and Tropical Punch.Retailers should note here that Prime Energy is not suitable for children and the same is mentioned on the pack too. Currently, it’s legal for children to buy energy drinks in the UK, although drinks containinglarge quantities of caffeine must contain a warning on the pack stating they aren’t recommended for children or pregnant women.

    In 2019 the UK government announced it would ban the sale of energy drinks to children under 16, but this hasn’t happened.

    Power of Protein

    Britons’ active lifestyle needs support and nourishment. Make sure your store has the basic range to support such requirements.

    The rise of protein bars is fueled by a growing demand for protein-rich snacks, marking a significant shift in consumer preferences. Protein bars have become a popular choice due to their convenience and nutritional benefits.

    The remarkable success of protein bars in convenience stores can be attributed to a combination of factors like increasing health consciousness, the need for convenient on-the-go options,a wider range of flavours, effective marketing and rising fitness and sports trends

    As more individuals prioritise their well-being and seek out convenient nutrition options, protein bars are likely to become even more popular, making them a staple item within convenience stores for the foreseeable future.

    Some top protein bar brands for retail stores in the UK include Warrior Raw Chocolate Brownie Protein Flapjacks, Fulfil Vitamin and Protein Bar, Misfits Protein Bar, Shredder Bar, Barebells Protein Bar, Grenade CarbKilla, Quest Nutrition, RXBAR and Kind Protein Bars.

    Grenade is one of the UK’s best-selling protein bar brands, offering low-sugar, high-protein bars and creamy shakes. MyveganCarb Crusher is a great vegan option which contains only plant-based protein. Those looking to stock protein powder should consider top-selling protein supplements like Myprotein Impact Whey Protein and Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey.

    Consumers are becoming increasingly protein-conscious across their diets and on-the-go drinks are no different. More and more people are enjoying protein shakes with their lunch and as they move. Not only that, protein shakes are becoming more accessible (through pack sizes, flavour variations) leading to wider audiences.

    Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line

    For Goodness Shakes is a perfect product for this aisle.

    According to Matt Dudley, Marketing Manager at For Goodness Shakes, the ready to drink protein shake category is thriving in the UK, with 25 per cent value growth YoY to reach over £77m RSV.

    “For Goodness Shakes (FGS), as one of the biggest brands in the category, is also showing double digit growth, with retail sales growth of £2m in the last year alone. This has been driven by FGS’ market leading ‘protein’ range, particularly its 330 ml (20g Protein) format, introduced in 2023.”

    For Goodness Shakes has recently launched price-marked packs, exclusively for the convenience channel. Priced at £2, these 330ml bottles are an extension of their best-selling protein range and are packed with 20g of protein, six essential vitamins and minerals and no added sugar. They are available now in chocolate, strawberry and salted caramel flavours.

    “Shoppers are looking for leading brands that they trust to offer value. Our £2 price-marked packs are bespoke for convenience and offer a great entry point for consumers as they are perfect

    to pick up and enjoy on-the-go. The sizes, product benefits and flavour options are a proven success in grocery and are ready to drive category growth in the convenience sector,” he says.

    Another interesting sub-category here is meat snacks rich in protein.

    Shaun Whelan, Jack Link’s Convenience-Wholesale and OOH Controller, states that the jerky and biltong meat snacks category are one of the fastest growing categories in convenience.

    “Total sales for the jerky and biltong meat snacks category are growing extremely strongly in the convenience sector over the last 12 months – by over 44 per cent in value and 37 per cent in units. Jack Link’s is driving this growth with 60 per cent value growth and 50 per cent volume growth.

    “The category has more than doubled in value over the last five years, growing in both value and volume, and has the headroom to double again as still less than one in ten households buy it,” adds Whelan.

    Since more and more shoppers are on the lookout for protein-rich, tasty convenient snacks to replace traditional snacks, the scope of additional sales is huge.

    Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line

    Jack Link’s Beef Jerky Original 25g has the highest unit rate of sale of any product in the category, providing shoppers with an accessible opportunity to enter into the category. The Beef Jerky is available in two other flavours – Sweet & Hot and Teriyaki.

    Shoppers will always look for value for money, and they are more mindful of the choices they make. Jack Link’s rapid growth may surprise many, but it is driven by the fact that more shoppers are buying into the category and are willing to pay for the high protein benefits from brands they trust.

    Jack Link’s is investing heavily to build category awareness and trial.

    “We are well placed to drive growth with our leading Beef Jerky Original brand. From investing £1.5m on an annual basis into media, and sampling at festivals and gaming events, we are increasing category awareness and as a result have been performing phenomenally well.

    “We know shoppers looking to buy Jack Link’s Beef Jerky are predominately male, aged between 16-45 years old, with a keen interest in sports, healthy eating, and lead an active lifestyle. More importantly, these shoppers are willing to pay more for this product than traditional crisps and snacks,” Whelan tells Asian Trader.

    “As well as Beef Jerky, Jack Link’s also manufactures Biltong, and we have recently launched Ham Snack. Ham Snack will bring new shoppers into the category as ham is one the nation’s most favourite meats. Made of 100 per cent lean pork, Ham Snack has more than 50 per cent protein.

    “What’s significant too is that Biltong and Ham Snack have no added sugar. This range helps drive awareness of the wider jerky and biltong meat snacks category and are subsequently another big opportunity for retailers,” Whelan states.

    We believe the food-to-go market is increasingly important to time-poor shoppers who are looking for a tasty, convenient snack to eat on the go that is seen to be healthier than traditional snacks.

    In addition to this growing trend, Jack Link’s Jerky and Biltong do not need to be refrigerated as they have a long shelf life of nine months. This makes them particularly good meat protein products to stock.

    Unseen is Unsold

    Great merchandising is key to great category visibility to maximise convenience sales. The unseen is unsold, so visibility of the bestselling products as well as newly launched ones holds the key to maximising sales.

    The sports and protein category is vast, and therefore appeals to a wide demographic of consumers. It is vital for stores to stock not just a multitude of different flavours, but also at a range of price points. This way the chance of sales is increased for each customer, ultimately driving profit.

    To convenience retailers looking to build their jerky and biltong meat snacks category, be present in the ideal location which is on the bagged savoury snacks shelf alongside crisps and nuts, be it instore or online.

    “We believe that making a permanent home for jerky and biltong meat snacks on the main fixture with other bagged snacks, especially next to crisps and nuts will drive sales.

    “We know secondary merchandising of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky on clip strips drives high levels of incremental sales, building visibility across a store and prompt incremental purchases. Our clip strips are available in shelf ready boxes for ease which quickly aid merchandising,” states Whelan from Jack Link’s.

    Visibility is central to prompt purchases in stores. Dual merchandising of Jack Link’s is key to ensure shoppers can easily find their favourite brand on the main fixture, ideally alongside crisps, nuts and bagged snacks to offer customers a healthier option and encourage them to trade-up, and also on clip strips to prompt unplanned incremental purchase, Whelan states.

    Jack Link’s products are also available on clip strips with shelf ready boxes for ease which quickly aid mercha

    “Jack Link’s is the UK’s must stock beef jerky brand for convenience retailers looking to unlock the huge ambient protein meat snacking category growth opportunity. We are the number one brand in convenience, and we continue to be the only brand in our sector to consistently increase consumer awareness by investing in the media and extensive sampling around the country,” says Whelan.

    Our proven bestseller is Jack Link’s Beef Jerky Original 25g, which has the highest unit rate of sale of any product in the category. Yet despite the high sales growth, only one in 10 households buy into the category, therefore there is a huge opportunity to drive sales of the core products, he adds.

    Give c-store winning edge with sports, protein product line

    There are also two more great tasting flavour packs of Beef Jerky available: Sweet & Hot and Teriyaki, plus 25grm Biltong.

    Consumers are increasingly seeking healthier beverage options. Look out for sports and energy drinks with added functional ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, and those with reduced sugar or natural sweeteners.

    Also, make sure to cover all the price and pack size ranges.

    From the start of January, Lucozade Energy will be moving its 380ml single SKUs to 500ml bottles only, including Lucozade Energy Orange and Original, the Lucozade Energy Apple, Cherry and Caribbean Crush flavours and Lucozade Zero Pink Lemonade. The move will also see the introduction of a price-marked variant, RRP £1.50, available for the first time in 500ml format, offering a bigger bottle and better value for Lucozade Energy drinkers.

    The move to 500ml single bottles from 380ml PMP and existing 380ml standard pack flavours across the range enhances the options for shoppers wanting to choose the right drink for their different consumption occasions by offering them their favourite drink, in a larger on-the-go format.

    Lucozade Energy 380ml bottles will still be available in multipacks, while 250ml and 330ml cans offer a great entry option for those looking for an on-the-go drink, and 900ml bottles deliver a great “drink later” option.

    The move comes as the brand is seeing recent value sales growth of 6.6 per cent YOY in the convenience channel.By differentiating the Lucozade Energy range to focus on 500ml bottles and a 380ml multipack offer, the brand is tapping into an ongoing trend for larger pack formats within the energy segment.

    Keep in mind that beyond providing an energy boost, consumers are also interested in drinks withadditional functional benefits. Look for products that offer hydration, mental clarity, or other specific health benefits.

    With increasing health consciousness, customers are looking for low-calorie and sugar-free alternatives. Stocking beverages with reduced or zero sugar content can cater to this demand.

    Sell well

    Beyond traditional energy drinks, the market for functional water and enhanced hydration products is expanding.

    Brands are constantly introducing new flavors and formulations to keep consumers engaged so stay updated on the latest launches and consider featuring limited-edition or trending flavors in your store.

    Having a wide range in this sub-category will also pull shoppers who are otherwise resorting to multiples in search of more range and variety.

    It’s an exciting category with lots to talk about and thereby has a huge scope in creating interest among newbies. So, staying updated with trends and terms can go a long way in pushing sales and emerging as a winner.


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