• New V-Label Survey Finds Plant-based Ingredients in Sports Nutrition Gaining Popularity in Europe



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    Data from 18 European countries show that plant-based ingredients are appealing to consumers interested in sports nutrition products. For instance, 18,000 Europeans are interested in: plant protein (71%), rice protein (60%), potato protein (59%), wheat protein (59%), pea protein (58%), soy protein (56%), algae protein (41%), and hemp protein (41%).

    Interestingly, the most common protein on the market – whey – was second in terms of favorability, chosen by 69% of respondents. Egg protein was even lower with 57%.

    The survey demonstrates that food producers that want to introduce new products or boost sales should continue educating consumers and focus on communicating the various benefits their ingredients and products may bring to their consumers.     

    Courtesy of V-Label

    Ingredients and flavours

    Sports nutrition food and drink producers introducing new plant-based protein products may capture consumer interest based on their preferences. The following ingredients listed as proteins were selected as appealing: plant protein (71%), rice protein (60%), potato protein (59%), wheat protein (59%), pea protein (58%), soy protein (56%), algae protein (41%), and hemp protein (41%). Interestingly, the most common protein on the market – whey – was second in terms of favorability, chosen by 69% of respondents. Egg protein was even lower with 57%.  

    The most appealing flavours for sports nutrition products were chocolate (77%), vanilla (73%), tropical fruit (57%), acai berry (56%), and lime (56%), whereas the least appealing flavours were blackcurrant (26%), blueberries (25%), cola (25%), lemon (25%), and lemonade (25%).

    Untapped potential

    “The message for food producers is clear. European consumers want variety and plant-based ingredients in their functional foods,” says Renato Pichler, CEO of V-Label. “The plant-based foods megatrend, driven by increasing consumer demand, is well established within the alternative meat and dairy markets. We see a lot of untapped potential in different categories.”

    Courtesy of V-Label

    Informed consumers: claims, factors, and barriers

    When buying food and drink products, consumers seek out various types of information. With sports nutrition products, consumers found these claims appealing: low/no sugar (70%), energy-boosting (69%), high in fiber (68%), contains probiotics (67%), high in protein (66%), plant-based (65%), high in vitamins (60%), low/no lactose (41%), and satiety enhancing (40%).

    Consumers selected several factors as important when choosing sports nutrition products: multiple functional benefits (71%), natural claims (69%), scientific claims (68%), type of protein source (63%), health claims (62%), and plant-based ingredients (57%). Data further suggest some barriers consumers face when buying sports nutrition products: cost (67%), types of protein used (55%), no products that suit nutritional needs (52%), lack of awareness about different types of protein (50%), and lack of understanding around ingredient and health claims (49%).

    Courtesy of V-Label

    “With our partner organizations, we directly speak to more than 890,000 consumers that are very interested in plant-based products,” comments Renato Pichler, CEO of V-Label. “V-Label is in a unique and strong position that certified producers may benefit from. We may help them get their products seen by potential customers.”

    V-Label has recently conducted its own consumer survey with more than 23,000 respondents across the globe. When buying vegan or vegetarian products, 91% of respondents prefer products with a certificate such as V-Label, half of whom say they definitely opt for such products. “79% of consumers globally agree that they consciously pay more attention to products with the V-Label symbol and 61% claim they are actively on the lookout for the V-Label sign on the packaging,” says Sarah Gajdosik, International Sales and Business Development Manager of V-Label.

    “Producers may benefit from existing trust consumers have towards V-Label, and, in this sense, V-Label goes beyond the simple recognition of whether a product is vegan or vegetarian and helps them stand out from increasingly full supermarket shelves.”

    V Label
    ©V Label

    Product types, frequency, and desired outcome

    In the last six months, 53% of respondents have purchased protein bars, 49% high protein cookies, 47% ready-to-drink high protein beverages, and 35% protein powder to use in shakes/beverages. When it comes to frequency and types of products, consumers have their favourites as well:

    • High protein cookies: 20% daily, 37% weekly
    • Ready-to-drink high protein beverages: 22% daily, 37% weekly
    • Protein bar: 22% daily, 37% weekly
    • Protein powder to use in shakes/beverages: 21% daily, 36% weekly

    Consumers focused on sports nutrition products search for various information on packaging and actively look out for ingredients delivering desired benefits. When it comes to health claims, these are the most appealing: helps improve digestive health (69%), helps boost energy (67%), helps you gain muscle (66%), helps improve heart health (66%), helps improve immune health (66%), helps you lose weight (53%), helps satisfy hunger (50%).

    Messaging for specific products may be adjusted based on the desired outcome consumers seek to have with specific products:

    • High protein cookies: 60% to maintain a healthy weight, 29% to lose weight, 32% to build lean muscle/tone up/achieve a favorable body
    • High protein drinks that are ready-to-drink straight from the packaging: 62% to maintain a healthy weight, 29% to lose weight, 33% to build lean muscle/tone up/achieve a favorable body
    • Protein bar: 59% to maintain a healthy weight, 30% to lose weight, 30% to build lean muscle/tone up/achieve a favorable body
    • Protein powder to use in shakes/beverages: 58% to maintain a healthy weight, 29% to lose weight, 29% to build lean muscle/tone up/achieve a favorable body

    For more information contact Martin Ranninger:  [email protected].

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