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Sports protein market struggles to reach consumers amid COVID-19 challenges.jpg

Sports protein market struggles to reach consumers amid COVID-19 challenges

Sports nutrition products were surging in early 2020, but changes forced on active consumers by COVID-19 will likely hinder market progression.

As COVID-19 cases increased across the U.S., spikes in demand for CPGs, including sports nutrition products, were evident. Consumers stockpiled their pantries with shelf-stable products as the time span of social distancing measures and the future availability of food products were in question. Since the initial spike, declines in year-on-year growth for sports nutrition products have been evident due to reduced store visits as well as purchase shifts to essential goods.

Gym closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic created drastic short-term changes to the sports protein market. The majority of gyms across the U.S. were closed in a matter of weeks, leaving gymgoers displaced as far as where and how to maintain previous exercise routines. Without access to gyms, many consumers’ routine use of sports nutrition products, namely protein, to supplement their workout was eliminated. The result was strong year-on-year sales declines for April and May, in particular.

Another phenomenon in the COVID-19 environment has been the reorientation of sports protein formats across bars, RTDs and powders. Restrictions keeping consumers home resulted in fewer on-the-go occasions, leading to changes in consumer purchasing patterns. A notable shift has been away from convenience stores, which are a key channel for sports protein bar and RTD formats. With consumers traveling less, demand for on-the-go protein formats has suffered. Sports protein RTD and powder formats both sustained moderate performances in Q1 2020 largely due to the buying spike in early March; however, both have since declined due to the combination of gym closures and channel shifts toward essential retailers and e-commerce.

For the full text of this article, see “Uncertainty ahead for the sports protein market” in the Sports nutrition: Protein – digital magazine.

Andrew Stablein is a beauty and health analyst based in Euromonitor International’s Chicago office. He provides insights on competitive analysis, consumer trends and growth opportunities in the U.S. personal care and consumer health industries. Stablein is particularly interested in the disruption of these fast-paced industries through the likes of e-commerce and changing consumer attitudes.

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