Sports nutrition
Ingredient suppliers vie to stand out in the growing sports nutrition category.

KANSAS CITY — Data from the market research firm Euromonitor tell the sports nutrition story. Global category sales in 2010 were $6.7 billion. In 2015 the market was valued at $10.8 billion, and by 2020 sales are estimated to reach $17.5 billion. The growth has some ingredient suppliers innovating to develop the next commercially viable breakthrough ingredient.

The New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra’s dairy ingredients business is aiming to stand out in the category with a new protein ingredient that delivers at least 10% more protein than other whey protein offerings, according to the company. Designed for use in sports drinks and energy bars, the ingredient is faster acting, as well as being lower in fat, sugar and carbohydrates than similar products.

Neil Fraser, lead technologist for Fonterra, said some protein ingredients traditionally have been formulated from cheese whey, but Fonterra has used lactic casein whey to make the protein ingredient.

“People are taking more interest in their diet and health, which means as the awareness of the benefits of protein goes more mainstream, sports nutrition is no longer just for exercise fanatics,” he said. “Protein is an important part in everyone’s diet.

“It is needed for growth and maintenance of all cells in the body, especially muscles. Proteins are believed to support athletic performance, but are also important for healthy aging, especially when it comes to maintaining muscle strength and function as we get older.”

Fonterra is known for developing dairy protein ingredients and offers a range marketed under the SureProtein brand.

“The N.Z.M.P. (New Zealand Milk Products) protein has been developed and introduced to market in less than a year through the collaboration of Fonterra’s Research and Development Center and Operations teams,” Mr. Fraser said. “It is a good example of getting more value out of our farmers’ milk by producing higher-value products.”

The United States leads the way in the surge in demand for protein in sports nutrition, and the launch of SureProtein has been well received, according to Fonterra. Japan is another market the dairy cooperative is eyeing.