Introduction

Fuelled by greater consumer awareness of the role diet plays in health and well being, the sports nutrition sector remains one of the biggest growth categories in the food and nutrition space. Its appeal has moved firmly into the mainstream and is attracting health-conscious consumers of all ages.  In fact, body builders reportedly now only make up about 5% of the consumer base.

Unsurprisingly, the evolution of this former specialist market has fuelled a surge in new product development (NPD) as global brands seek to capitalize on this sizeable opportunity. Recent forecasts value the global sports nutrition market at USD 29.7 billion in 2017 and estimate a CAGR of 8.4% between 2018-2025.

With so much on the line, manufacturers need to get products to market quickly in order to benefit from this upward curve. To do so successfully, brands must innovate.

But what does this mean?

 

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Innovative inspiration

If you work in the nutrition market, you already know how important innovation can be toward your success. Innovation enables you to  excite increasingly adventurous consumers with winning products, in order to survive and thrive in a highly competitive marketplace.

Drill down and there are a number of underlying principles also worth considering. First, you need to offer clear functional benefits and a positive nutritional profile – but never at the expense of taste, texture, and flavor.  Second, remember that consumers increasingly focus on a raft of other highly influential criteria including natural ingredients, clean label, as well as vegan and vegetarian platforms. A product that doesn’t meet expectations simply won’t be perceived as relevant to a modern audience, or become a regular fixture as a satisfying, everyday, healthier option.

This is why the technical side of product development is so important; it plays a pivotal role in consumer acceptance. Understanding the complex interactions between the different ingredients – along with the latest ingredient innovations and processing techniques – means formulation challenges can be identified and resolved quickly.     

 

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Technical challenges

The advantages of working with a partner who brings specialized ingredient knowledge is particularly evident when it comes to developing protein-enriched products.

This is because many protein ingredients are known for their inherent, distinctive, and quite often, unpleasant off-tastes.  Soy, pea, hemp, and seaweed, for example, are unique in taste and texture – so each must be addressed differently in order to find the most effective masking solution.

But in a fast-moving environment, where getting to market first is a priority, manufacturers don’t have the luxury of time on their side. Sustained consumer demand for protein-based products across applications is accelerating developments and pressure to find the “next big thing.”  

High protein bars, for example, have achieved great success in the UK and China. In the snacks category, product launches featuring a protein claim reportedly grew at a 31% CAGR between 2013-2017. While the plant-based protein trend is a prominent feature in numerous market research reports, appearing in everything from pasta to biscuits and potato chips, plus – most telling of all – predicted to be “here to stay” by the world’s largest food company.

This paints an exciting picture, but in order to tap the opportunity manufacturers need exceptional support to overcome the inevitable technical challenges quickly. Off-note masking in high-protein products, as well as a switch to natural are often top of the list.

An increasingly well-known solution to many of these challenges is the ingredient vanillin. Understanding how to maximize the functional and flavor capabilities of this molecule requires specialist knowledge.

These are all issues, among many others,  that technical experts at a dedicated lab could be ideally placed to resolve. Formulators can almost certainly use technical guidance and product development support to navigate the range of important decisions they face. For example, our teams work closely with customers to maximize both the functional and flavor capabilities of the ingredients they plan to use.  It may serve you well to look for a partner with labs that can provide a detailed technical understanding and extensive product portfolio to:

  • Mask undesirable protein related notes – both animal and vegetal – in a range of applications
  • Build on your base formula and propose a formulation which meets specific desired profile
  • Simplify overly complex formulations to ensure effective off-note masking, optimum flavor balance      and an exceptional final product
  • Provide guidance on the most suitable vanillin-based solution for the protein source specified in each application.
  • Discuss new market trends in the context of technical challenges
  • Collaborate on-site as a trusted partner on all aspects of flavour optimization

 

After all, if innovation is key to gaining a competitive edge – doesn’t it make sense to work with experts in their chosen field?  

 

Takeaways

  • Having access to expert technical advice plays a crucial role in successful product development.
  • Innovative companies keep moving forwards in order to survive and thrive.
  • Bringing in technical expertise can accelerate product development.
  • Fill gaps in technical knowledge to reduce time to market.

 

 

Discover how to create innovative nutrition products which really stand out from the crowd.

Download our eGuide ‘How to innovate for success in the competitive nutrition market 

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