After the New Year’s celebration, revelers quickly turn their focus toward the lofty resolutions they’ve made for the next 12 months. Health, fitness, and improved wellbeing are often at the top of the list. In the CPG landscape, performance nutrition is a key component to a healthy lifestyle and an important ingredient for building muscle. For the purposes of Mintel’s recent analysis, performance nutrition is defined as meal replacement beverages with a specialized performance nutrition claim.

As consumers continue to seek out convenient on-the-go snacks, the meal replacement drink category is expected to grow. According to Mintel, nutritional drinks show the most growth, and are now taking some of the market share from sports drinks.  

Protein is the most important benefit among consumers when choosing a performance drink. “As seen in Better for You Eating Trends – US, August 2018, 43% of consumers consider protein content an important factor when choosing healthy foods,” states Mintel. Other important health benefits to consumers include hydration, increased energy, and digestive health.

Consumer interest in where their protein is sourced from is on the rise. Consumers are looking for a healthy mix of dairy and plant-based protein options. According to Mintel, brands that offer a variety of formulations are likely to have the broadest appeal. Most notably, plant-based proteins are seeing a surge in popularity within the category.

Nearly one-third of consumers report purchasing performance drinks. That means the category has a lot of room to grow. But how can brands reach non-users? According to Mintel, brands need to find more incentives for consumers beyond fitness, and search for a more holistic health approach. “Consumers are looking for functionality from their beverages, yet the niche nature of many of these drinks seems to be a barrier for overall product growth in the category,” states Mintel.

If brands can expand the functionality of their performance drinks, they stand to increase their consumer base.