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Sports nutrition bar innovation.jpg

Sports nutrition bar innovation

Bar companies are innovating in the sports nutrition market by offering plant-based and CBD offerings.

Bar formats have been popular for many years, offering quick, on-the-go nutrition with a few lines extending ingredient profiles. Companies like The Best Bar Ever are extending the category into the refrigerated aisles with perishable ingredients. As a result, white spaces are quickly disappearing, and existing brands are at risk of getting hemmed in.

Many big bar manufacturers have released brand extensions or completely repositioned their lines to reinforce their leadership positions. Clif Bar introduced the Whole Lotta line at Natural Products Expo West 2019, a plant-based protein alternative that fits between its standard Clif Bar range and its Clif Builders high-protein range, but with more snacking functionality. Most notably, longstanding bar manufacturer thinkThin completely repositioned its branding, changing its name to simply think! to remove the impression of narrow weight loss functionality as well as reimagining packaging.

Sports nutrition has been successful in convincing consumers of the value of additional functionality around performance gains, so it comes as no surprise that the industry is witnessing increasing innovation around expanding the function of sports nutrition through combinations of other supplement ingredients. These products can be thought of as “performance+,” as they seek to achieve other health needs in addition to pure performance. This blended approach was apparent at Natural Products Expo West 2019, where players introduced ingredients not traditionally used for sports-specific purposes such as Muscle MX’s CBD line for pre-workout preparation or post-workout recovery.

The added ingredients that have generated the most industry buzz as category extensions are sports protein products mixed with cannabidiol (CBD), to extend positioning around anti-inflammation and pain relief for post-workout recovery, and probiotics, for recovery as well as immune system support and digestion around nutrient uptake.

This article is an abridged version of the article “Innovation and growth opportunities in sports nutrition,” which appears in INSIDER’s Muscle Building digital magazine. Download the issue to read the full article and to explore how brands can best formulate these products.

As the head of consumer health at Euromonitor International, Matthew Oster oversees the research and analysis of the industry and leads a team of experts in 80 markets worldwide. Prior to this role, he was the head of institutional channels, where he analyzed the changing global healthcare landscape and its effects on the B2B marketplace for goods and services. Oster has worked in market research since 2011—including within the Euromonitor International Consumer Health system—and holds a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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