Vitamin Retailer July 2013 : Page 16

By Janet Poveromo I t can be said that Nostradamus had nothing on Joe Weider. In a 1950 editorial printed in the July issue of Your Physique magazine, the leg-endary bodybuilder and entrepreneur made 10 predictions. The top two were: 1. That civilization will speed up in every phase, and that the stresses and strains on mankind will continue to increase. 2. That the resulting increases in men-tal and physical illness will force the world to recognize the importance of systemat-ic exercise and physical activities. Weider’s forecasts—now a reality— have been reflected in the sales of today’s sports nutrition products. According to Nutrition Business Journal , powders, pills and RTDs (ready to drink) are up 10 percent, while meal replace-ments and sports drinks are up 15 per-cent. “The growth is in the mainstream appeal,” said Forrest Haag, brand man-ager with Florida-based Champion Naturals. “With rising health concerns, more people are interested in leading a healthier, more active lifestyle. Even Google trends reports there were 21 relative searches for protein powder were in February 2004, and rose to 96 16 VITAMIN RETAILER in August 2012. SGMA (Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association) research shows growth of 34.6 percent in high-impact aerobics over 10 years, and a 57.4 percent growth in running over 10 years. While these are only two sports listed, it paints a picture of the dramatic increase in the most basic of sports.” Marc Stover, director of marketing with Utah-based Twinlab, agreed that the sports nutrition market continues to be healthy. “However, the number of new brands trying to gain a foothold into the marketplace each year contin-ues to make things interesting, especial-ly for the consumer who is trying to fig-ure out which products are legitimate,” he said. “We’re seeing growth in most areas, but especially niches—clean for-mulas and hardcore. Not surprisingly, as the overall market grows, you see dis-tinct segments begin to emerge with their own purchase drivers and sensibili-ties.” That’s true for Vancouver, Canada-based Vega, which, according to Emma Cutfield, the company’s education man-ager, in the past year has seen an expansion in sport nutrition systems for before, during and after exercise, as opposed to a focus on recovery pro-teins alone, or a “one-size-fits-all” prod-uct. “While recovery protein and amino acid supplements remain popular, increasing awareness about the impor-tance of nutrient timing (and the need for specific nutrients at different times during the workout) have led to expanded offerings in this category, including energy drinks, gels, bars and carbohydrate-based recovery drinks,” she said. Retailer Jonathan Lawrence, vitamin category manager for Sprouts Farmers Market in Phoenix, AZ, also noted that sports nutrition is in a state of enlighten-ment. “As a fan of it my whole life, it’s great to see the evolution it’s taken in the last few years. Previously there was a gap between mainstream sports nutri-tion—there was ‘sports’ and there was ‘nutrition.’ There were very few options that didn’t come with artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, etc. It’s all about per-formance, and everybody wants to per-form better, not just the guys in the gym who choose to do curls for a half an hour on the squat rack,” he said. “Today, men, women and children of all ages are using sports nutrition in some way or another and it’s a beautiful thing, because it’s all about improving health. WWW.VITAMINRETAILER.COM ■ JULY 2013

Sports Transformation

Janet Poveromo

The pumped-up bodybuilder representing the sports nutrition category has given way to a broader range of consumers seeking clean products that address various fitness goals and overall health.<br /> <br /> It can be said that Nostradamus had nothing on Joe Weider. In a 1950 editorial printed in the July issue of Your Physique magazine, the legendary bodybuilder and entrepreneur made 10 predictions. The top two were:<br /> <br /> 1. That civilization will speed up in every phase, and that the stresses and strains on mankind will continue to increase.<br /> <br /> 2. That the resulting increases in mental and physical illness will force the world to recognize the importance of systematic exercise and physical activities. <br /> <br /> Weider’s forecasts—now a reality— have been reflected in the sales of today’s sports nutrition products. According to Nutrition Business Journal, powders, pills and RTDs (ready to drink) are up 10 percent, while meal replacements and sports drinks are up 15 per-cent. <br /> <br /> “The growth is in the mainstream appeal,” said Forrest Haag, brand man- ager with Florida-based Champion Naturals. “With rising health concerns, more people are interested in leading a healthier, more active lifestyle. Even Google trends reports there were 21 relative searches for protein powder were in February 2004, and rose to 96 In August 2012. SGMA (Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association) research shows growth of 34.6 percent in high- impact aerobics over 10 years, and a 57. 4 percent growth in running over 10 years. While these are only two sports listed, it paints a picture of the dramatic increase in the most basic of sports.”<br /> <br /> Marc Stover, director of marketing with Utah-based Twinlab, agreed that the sports nutrition market continues to be healthy. “However, the number of new brands trying to gain a foothold into the marketplace each year continues to make things interesting, especially for the consumer who is trying to figure out which products are legitimate,” he said. “We’re seeing growth in most areas, but especially niches—clean formulas and hardcore. Not surprisingly, as the overall market grows, you see distinct segments begin to emerge with their own purchase drivers and sensibiliies.”<br /> <br /> That’s true for Vancouver, Canada- based Vega, which, according to Emma Cutfield, the company’s education man- ager, in the past year has seen an expansion in sport nutrition systems for before, during and after exercise, as opposed to a focus on recovery proteins alone, or a “one-size-fits-all” product. “While recovery protein and amino acid supplements remain popular, increasing awareness about the importance of nutrient timing (and the need for specific nutrients at different times during the workout) have led to expanded offerings in this category, including energy drinks, gels, bars and carbohydrate-based recovery drinks,” she said.<br /> <br /> Retailer Jonathan Lawrence, vitamin category manager for Sprouts Farmers Market in Phoenix, AZ, also noted that sports nutrition is in a state of enlightenment. “As a fan of it my whole life, it’s great to see the evolution it’s taken in the last few years. Previously there was a gap between mainstream sports nutrition—there was ‘sports’ and there was ‘nutrition.’ There were very few options that didn’t come with artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, etc. It’s all about performance, and everybody wants to per- form better, not just the guys in the gym who choose to do curls for a half an hour on the squat rack,” he said. <br /> <br /> “Today, men, women and children of all ages are using sports nutrition in some way or another and it’s a beautiful thing, because it’s all about improving health.<br /> <br /> A healthy body is going to perform better and you shouldn’t have to settle on artificial or inferior ingredients to do it.”<br /> <br /> A relative newcomer to the market, Klean Athlete Powered by Douglas Laboratories, based in Pennsylvania, fully agreed. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Timothy J. Monk, Jr. Said the company is targeting a different channel than most other sports supplement companies. “We feel growth can be found with athletes that want to perform at their best by focusing on their overall health. You see this trend playing out as people compete in endurance sports to improve their lifestyle and to be part of a community of like-minded athletes that live healthily and want to train clean. This is a big shift from only focusing on performance enhancement products.”<br /> <br /> Product Selection<br /> <br /> Retailers are seeing huge growth in the sports nutrition category, especially at Sprouts, said Lawrence. “Previously there was very little in the way of sports nutrition, but today most stores have a full four-foot set dedicated to just that. Protein has been growing steady for a long time, but only recently have we seen such an explosion of sales. In my opinion this is due to all the options available, more specifically in the plantbased, which has really driven our growth. Today’s proteins taste far-and- away better than in years past and are far more digestible.”<br /> <br /> Energy drinks and protein powders remain the most popular and widely accepted options, followed by RTD proteins and energy bars or bites, added Vega’s Cutfield. However, she noted that pill-based supplements are losing popularity in favor of food-based options, as more consumers become educated about choosing quality supplements that are easily digested and absorbed. “This is a compelling reason to advocate plant-based options for sport performance, as whey/dairy-based products more commonly create digestive difficulty through aggravating food sensitivities,” she said.<br /> <br /> The sub-category of carbohydrate recovery drinks still requires the most education, Cutfield added. “Research has proven using a 3:1 to 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio in a recovery beverage within 20 minutes of training facilitates the replenishment of muscle glycogen, reducing stiffness and soreness. However, because protein supplements have been the most widely accepted and convenient option for years, this concept is still filtering through from the research lab to the playing field.”<br /> <br /> Vega has responded with proactive retailer education experiences integrating physical workouts with product sampling, and using interactive online education platforms such as Vega Ambassador Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Forward program (with sport nutrition lessons and current research embedded). “This will help expand consumer and retailer awareness around the importance of carbohydrates immediately following exercise, and ultimately influence athletic success,” she said.<br /> <br /> Retailer Jennifer Kuhlmann, a sales associate with Dave’s Health and Nutrition in Salt Lake City, UT, also noted the huge shift happening in the category with movement toward greens and plant-based proteins, such as products from Vega. And there are opportunities for expansion, she said. “We have not fully tapped into the use of greens for recovery,” she added.<br /> <br /> New Products<br /> <br /> Manufacturers are currently introducing a lot of new products with a variety of flavors and functions, but many have features in common such as “clean” and “allergy-free.”<br /> <br /> Twinlab is in the midst of a complete overhaul of its sports nutrition lineup. In fact, the company launched more than 30 new or updated SKUs in its flagship performance brand, Twinlab Fuel, in the past 12 months and that pace will continue for the foreseeable future, according to Stover. “We are also placing a top priority at taking a leadership role in emerging segments like ‘clean,’ as we launched Twinlab CleanSeries sports nutrition line at Expo West 2013,” he noted.<br /> <br /> The goal for CleanSeries is to set a new standard in the category and to create a compelling sports nutrition line especially for the health and natural food customer. The company wants the line to go far beyond simply formulating without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, and to invest in a broad array of certifications and testing to ensure that customers feel confident that the products will provide performance without compromise, he explained. For example, CleanSeries is batch-tested for banned substances and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), is NSF tested and certified, and is certified gluten- free. “All of the items are produced in our own NSF Certified for Sport plant in American Fork, UT,” Stover added. “We’re not aware of anyone doing any- thing close in the way of testing and certifications in the industry, much less sports nutrition.”<br /> <br /> Another new line from an established manufacturer, Champion has been around for 30 years and in 2011 launched a whole new natural line, which caters to the everyday athlete versus the traditional performance athlete (bodybuilders), according to Haag. “We did consumer research, expert interviews including trainers, professional athletes and psychologists (to understand what's happening in the consumer’s mind), and also identified competitor, consumer behavior, and diet and nutritional trends,” he explained. “We found our sweet spot at the intersection of trends and insights. Consumers wanted clean ingredients, on-the-go supplementation, results and personal acknowledgement. We created a clean sports nutrition system for the everyday athlete that was easy to understand, customizable for each individual athlete and fit a wide range of dietary needs-gluten- free, some dairy-free, allergen-free, vegan and vegetarian formulas.”<br /> <br /> In addition, PROBAR introduced two new lines specific to the sports nutrition category this spring:<br /> <br /> CORE Protein has 20 g plant protein and contains a chia and flax blend providing omega-3s and -6s. The product aims to be the best-tasting protein bar available featuring Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Mint Chocolate and Brownie Crisp flavors. They are vegan, certified gluten-free and contain no sugar alcohols.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, BOLT Energy Chews are easy-to-digest energy gummies that come from recognizable real food ingredients and provide clean-burning fuel for high-intensity workouts and races, according to the company. They are Certified USDA Organic; vitamin B-rich; caffeinated with yerba mate extract, which provides a mild stimulating effect for the muscles and mind; and infused with apple, açai, blueberry and pomegranate powders for all-natural flavor.<br /> <br /> New for Vega Sport is an alternative option in the energy drink category. “Building off the success of our Pre Workout Energizer, the latest edition is a sugar-free version, intended for lowerintensity or shorter-duration workouts where additional calories or carbohydrates are not required,” said Cutfield. “This will serve athletes in activities such as yoga or HIIT (high intensity interval training), which is typically less than 60 minutes in duration,” she said. The formula emphasizes natural anti-inflammatory support (ginger, turmeric, devil’s claw) and electrolytes for muscle function and mobility. It also includes natural stimulants and adaptogenic herbs (green tea, yerba mate, ginseng and rhodiola) for mental clarity and focus during intensity or coordination based activity.<br /> <br /> “Because this formulation will be sugar-free, we selected stevia for natural sweetness, as Vega’s formulations are guided by a desire to emphasize natural- ly occurring ingredients that are easy to digest (versus sugar alcohols or corn- based sweeteners, which can impair electrolyte absorption and cause indigestion while active),” Cutfield explained.<br /> <br /> While researching the sports nutrition arena, Douglas Laboratories, which targets health care practitioners, said it found a need to guarantee it could provide products that are free and clear of banned substances. Therefore, the company partnered with NSF when it launched the Klean Athlete line. The seven products focus on the overall health and wellness of athletes, and are designed to be taken every day, according to the company.<br /> <br /> Supplement Watch<br /> <br /> It should come as no surprise to retailers that sports supplements have been under federal government scrutiny. “Multiple studies have shown that as many as 20 to 25 percent of the body- building products sold over the counter in health food stores may be spiked with anabolic steroids and other substances banned by the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA),” said Ed Wyszumiala, general manager of Michigan-based NSF International’s Dietary Supplement Training and Certification Programs. “With the NSF Certified for Sport program, we are trying to make it easier for athletes and consumers to find safer products. Also, with the recent case of DMAA in many of the pre-workout products, many athletes tested positive for this banned stimulant that is also associated with deaths and other adverse events. Products like this will cause the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be more aggressive in enforcement of these dangerous products and potentially lead to more aggressive regulations in the near future.” <br /> <br /> With that, the number of NSF Certified for Sport products continues to grow. “To date, more than 300 products have earned the NSF Certified for Sport designation, from more than 50 brands,” he added. “These companies are enjoying the increased visibility that the certification provides them, with their expanded partnerships with the sports organizations and elite athletes.” <br /> <br /> Cutfield said Vega recently confirmed certification with Informed Choice, a third-party certifier. “More professional athletes and public service workers (including military, police, ambulance, etc.) are exploring natural health products to fuel their lifestyle by sustainable means,” she said. “As a result, brands must consider the importance of securing third-party certifications.”<br /> <br /> Certification for use in professional athletics can mean adjustments to formulations, as sport regulatory bodies operate under different standards than the FDA, Cutfield explained, adding that Vega was required to remove hemp as a component in its Sport Performance Protein (it remains on Informed Choice’s banned sub- stances list, despite the FDA lifting its own ban on the ingredient). Therefore, the company increased the levels of pea, sprouted whole grain brown rice, Savi Seed and alfalfa proteins to maintain a balanced amino acid profile, and high-yield protein dose.<br /> <br /> The government oversight actually benefited Champion to a degree, according to Haag. “This helps us externally because our line is clean and [we are noticeably] not being scrutinized; however, internally it causes additional lead times and administrative work to ensure we are compliant.” The FDA’s request for companies to pull the DMAA ingredient from products didn’t affect Champion, Haag added. “We are free from that ingredient. While others are getting scrutinized, it gives us an opportunity to ride the wave and capitalize on the fact that our formulas are clean.” <br /> <br /> Increased examination of the sports nutrition category should help to elevate The entire category, according to Dr. Andrew Halpner, vice president, product development and technical services with Douglas Labs. “We believe this will cause consumers to seek out brands such as Klean Athlete, that are only working with safe and effective ingredients, but that are not making unsubstantiated claims.”<br /> <br /> And while some companies may work with ingredients that have questionable safety profiles or regulatory status, Halpner said the company’s participation in the NSF for Sport program prevents it from handling materials such as DMAA. “Unfortunately, this category often finds itself chasing the latest ‘hot’ ingredient, sometimes at the expense of strong scientific support,” he added. “Use of ingredients similar to DMAA do not help to shine a beneficial light on this sector of the industry.”<br /> <br /> Winning Retailers<br /> <br /> To help consumers find supplements that have been tested and certified by NSF International, the company developed an NSF Certified for Sport App that enables people to easily search NSF’s list of certified products from an iPhone (and iPad) or Android phone.<br /> <br /> Further, Cutfield recommended retailers visit thriveforward.com for information about sport-specific nutritional requirements.<br /> <br /> “One of the most important ways retailers can provide recommendations of value and remain competitive as educators in the natural health industry is to understand how to deliver customized suggestions for individual athletes before, during and after training,” she said. “Assuming a one-size-fits-all approach will meet an athlete’s needs will only erode consumer confidence and stagnate sales.”<br /> <br /> Vega also encourages retailers to part- ner with brands in reaching out to local influencers, such as gyms and personal training studios. Vega offers educational programming, and a unique sampling experience for local influencers, and is committed to generating sales through this strategy. “Consider co-branding a local race, fueling a run club or providing an on-site nutrition education seminar for specific athlete groups, considering preduring and post-workout nutrition,” Cutfield suggested.<br /> <br /> In conclusion, NSF International’s Wyszumiala agreed the category of sports nutrition is going through a change. “The old category was seen as bodybuilding products (prohormones and stimulants), which is where the majority of the problematic products still exist,” he said. “The future is basic foundational products, multivitamins, omega-3s, amino acids and protein. Athletes and everyday consumers are looking for basic nutrition to help them with their athletic performance, not products with steroids or other contaminants.”<br /> <br /> What Does NSF Certified for Sport Mean?<br /> <br /> NSF International is a global public health and safety organization that developed the NSF Dietary Supplement Certification and NSF Certified for Sport programs to test and certify the safety and quality of dietary supplements and sports nutrition products.<br /> <br /> The NSF Certified for Sport program requires:<br /> <br /> • Banned substance screening: to certify they are free of prohibited substances on World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list prohibited sub- stances list.<br /> <br /> • Label claim review: to test and certify what’s on the label is in the bottle.<br /> <br /> • Toxicology review: to review the formulation for safety and accuracy of the contents.<br /> <br /> • Contaminant review: to ensure there are no undeclared ingredients or unwanted contaminants in the product.<br /> <br /> • Facility audits: GMP (good manufacturing practices) audits annually to ensure ongoing compliance, along with an on-site inspection to ensure banned substances are not manufactured or stored at the facility.<br /> <br /> The NSF Certified for Sport program is recognized by the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), the Professional Golf Association (PGA), the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES). <br /> <br /> Additional educational resources can be found at www.nsfsport.com.<br /> <br /> Fitness Trends and Retailers<br /> <br /> While some prefer tried-and-true fitness regimens that don’t stray beyond weight training and a jog in the park, others would be easily bored by the routine. Emma Cutfield noted some recent fitness trends the Vega staff has seen— and participate in—and how these trends can affect natural product retailers.<br /> <br /> “The ‘functional fitness’ category of athletics is by far the fastest growing in terms of mainstream appeal,” she said. “This is due to an increased popularity in adventure races and obstacle courses that utilize training programs such as Crossfit, high intensity interval training or body weight exercise as preparation. Vega participates in this style of training regularly, competing in the Tough Mudder Whistler for a second year in a row, and preparing through weekly Crossfit sessions in the head office parking lot. This helps us stay committed to our own fitness goals, and inspires product development that matches consumer interests, as we are active users of the Vega Sport system ourselves.”<br /> <br /> In addition, team- or club-based training environments have led to consumer interest in obtaining additional competitive advantages through nutrition, and have also led to greater buying influence from trainers and coaches in regard to their personal product recommendations and endorsements, Cutfield noted. “The influence of local sport leaders should be looked at as a marketing asset by independent retailers. Outreach and education is essential to maximizing growth through referrals.”<br /> <br /> Alongside those participating in functional fitness pursuits, endurance- and strength-based athletes still maintain predominance as sport nutrition category users, she noted. “Therefore, brands must place a higher emphasis on having a variety of product selections to accommodate a variety of fitness goals. Comprehensive selection allows retailers to create individualized nutrition programs, and establishes brand loyalty for both the retailer and product lines as well.”

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