The sports nutrition market continues to flourish and expand, as more and more people look for energy products to sustain their active lifestyles. There are now more products with energy claims hitting the market than ever before, ranging from sports powders and supplements to breakfast drinks and cereal bars. As observed in the market, the growth of energy/alertness claims in EU had a CAGR of 20% in new product launches.
Different energy needs
“At Roquette we have identified four kinds of people when it comes to energy management,” explains Eva Esparza, Market Manager Europe, Roquette. “These include ‘Active Lifestylers’, ‘Weekend Warriors’, ‘Fitness Enthusiasts’ who like going to the gym or exercising daily, and ‘Health-driven Consumers’ who watch their weight and are concerned about ageing. Each of these consumer groups have different needs from a product with an energy delivery claim.”
One of the goals of her presentation, says Esparza, is to underline the segmented nature of the energy nutrition market, and to examine the specific needs of each of these groups. A key focus will be done on energy coming from carbohydrates.
“Understanding the science behind these ingredients is important,” she says. “We can also see the different usages of these ingredients.”
Esparza notes that there are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbs – mono and disaccharides – provide us with fast energy and are necessary for life. Complex carbs – fibres, starches and complex sugars – depending if they are or not digestible, could have different energy release profile.
“An important message I would like to give is that there are no ‘bad’ or ‘good’ carbs as such,” says Esparza. “Our body has different needs, and this is something I will expand upon in my presentation.”
Building on this knowledge, Esparza will conclude by presenting three product concepts, developed at Roquette’s Application Labs. The first product, a coconut isotonic beverage, uses simple carbs and includes maltodextrin, which is easily digestible.
“Simple carbs are useful when you need fast energy for, say, sports performance,” says Esparza. “This concept would be ideal for ‘Fitness Enthusiasts’, who are looking for glucose-based energy, which is the most efficient energy substrate for muscles and brain.”
“The second concept is for consumers who need energy but not so urgently,” says Esparza. “The product prototype includes slow digestible starch, which ensures slow release of glucose. In this case, we have proposed a breakfast drink. Sometimes in the mornings, ‘Active Lifestylers’ don’t feel they have enough time for a good breakfast, they need energy to start the day but don’t want their products with high sugar content.”
The third concept is a biscuit to help manage blood glucose. This sugar-free biscuit contains maltitol, a low-GI sugar-free solution and a resistant dextrin, which is a soluble fibre, obtained from maize or wheat and belongs to the non-digestible carbohydrates group. Suggested claims for the European market include ‘sugars-free’, ‘high fibre’ and ‘reduced impact on blood glucose.’
“This type of soluble fiber brings another kind of energy – metabolic energy,” explains Esparza. “There are no glucose peaks, because the glucose is transformed into short-chain fatty acids in the colon, and absorbed by the body. This metabolic conversion helps to keep the digestive system healthy and fuels your body in a different way.”
Esparza hopes that her presentation will help to clarify the role of glucose as a source of energy in the body. “The concepts from our Application Lab will also demonstrate how we have solutions to formulate products that target specific needs,” she adds. “I hope to show that for different consumer populations, food makers need to formulate differently.”