An evolution took place during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the sports nutrition sector. While there remains a niche for formulations that help athletes with fueling, hydration and recovery, the category now includes foods with functional ingredients that improve overall well-being while assisting with weight management, mental health and healthy aging. This active nutrition sector presents an opportunity for bakers to offer convenience products that are easy for consumers to incorporate into their daily routines, but they must be enjoyable.

“Healthy indulgence is a strong position as consumers are always looking for a way to enjoy the treats they love with more nutritional benefits,” said Sophie Lauer, key account manager, NZMP, Ingredients by Fonterra.

Aaron Martin, director of nutrition innovation, Agropur, noted that sports nutrition and active nutrition can include a variety of baked goods to help meet the nutrient needs for active individuals.

“Baked goods are an excellent way to deliver tasty, fun, on-the-go nutrition,” he said.

Any type of bar, muffin, cookie or cracker may function as a delivery vehicle of performance nutrition. While protein — traditionally dairy protein — is typically the key nutrient in these products, there are many other performance ingredients that may be incorporated. Most will have an impact on taste and texture, so careful selection is paramount.

“The biggest consumer turnoff is the lack of taste and flavor in sports nutrition products,” said Joanie Zhang, technical services manager, Asia, Agropur. “The sports nutrition consumer has evolved from ‘I will consume anything if it helps my body’ to ‘I will consume it if it tastes good and has clean, natural ingredients and is good for my body and my environment.’ If product formulators are not paying attention to these changing needs of consumers, they will not be able to design successful products.”

This article is an excerpt from the July 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Sports Nutrition, click here.