The lines between sports nutrition and healthy eating are becoming increasingly blurred with the rise of the ‘active consumer’ according to Cornelius Group, an independent European distributor of high quality, innovative raw materials and ingredients for the food and drink industry.

As society becomes increasingly health conscious, with regular exercise and the purchase of innovative nutrition products becoming commonplace, the market is likewise evolving to supply sports supplements to the general public.

Traditionally, these goods have targeted elite athletes and body builders to help improve physical endurance, increase muscle growth and body mass, prevent injury or boost post-exercise recovery. Whatever the goal, high-quality sports nutrition is vital to optimising physical activity and performing at your best.

While the powders, bars, ready-to-drink beverages, gels and tablets aimed at athletes cater for the physical demands of advanced workout regimes, these solutions also serve the needs of a wider audience as more individuals seek healthy lifestyles. Overall physical and mental wellbeing is more of a focus than ever, with active habits and ‘clean’ eating gaining growing traction as more consumers take action against disease and obesity risk factors. Where previous generations have commonly chosen to spend their evenings at home or even in the pub, going to the gym or for a run have become for many the leisure recreations of choice, driven by better awareness of the benefits offered by exercise and balanced diets. Adapting societal habits must therefore be catered for with a change in how nutrition experts develop and market their products.

With increased exercise comes a greater necessity to support your body’s needs. Sports nutrition offers excellent lessons in how to cater for these and it is becoming increasingly recognised that supplements such as protein shakes and energy drinks or bars can benefit those seeking a more active routine – whatever their fitness level. Convenient for consuming on the go, these solutions allow the health conscious to fit dietary enhancement into their busy schedules without hassle. The popularity of this trend is evident in recent research from Mintel, which found that one in four people have consumed sports nutrition products in the past three months, rising to 42 per cent of men aged 16-24 years old.

Natural energy beverages are just one illustration of how supplements originally designed for athletes have been extended to apply to on-the-go consumers. Helping to keep the mind and body alert without the calories of sugary energy drink counterparts, these alternatives have long been hugely popular sports nutrition solutions for athletes seeking increased energy, performance and recovery with ingredients based on science and nature.

These benefits have appealed to recreational exercise enthusiasts and those wanting a guilt-free energy kick to the extent that the natural energy drink has become mainstream among consumers. This is evident in the development of more generically targeted functional beverages for public retail, such as Mamma Chia’s Chia Energy. Taking the idea of a healthy, nature-based energy lift from sports nutrition, this combines natural caffeine, fibre and protein to give clean eaters and gym goers a sharper mental and physical edge in an organic, indulgently branded package.

Protein products are another example of how sports nutrition is overlapping with the healthy lifestyle market. Helping athletes to build, maintain and repair lean muscle mass with greater energy, protein bars and shakes have long been a staple among body builders and endurance athletes. These benefits have been recognised by the wider food and beverage industry, resulting in the commercialisation of convenient energy bars containing protein-rich ingredients like nuts and seeds or additional supplements. A number of manufacturers have even taken to changing their packaging to reflect the extra protein content, appealing to regular health-focussed individuals keen to give their bodies the fuel it needs to perform at its best, whether in the gym or in the boardroom.

Quaker Oats for example has responded to this trend with its Protein Instant Oatmeal range containing cranberries, oats and almonds among other natural ingredients to support active ways of life. This makes the advantages of increased dietary protein intake more easily accessible to the average consumer as a breakfast food, removing the hassle of preparing shakes on a busy morning.

The growing appetite for everyday sports products is a key theme for Cornelius at Food Matters Live 2017, as the company focusses on new concepts in ‘feel good’ functional food and drink solutions.

Following a similar format to last year’s event, Cornelius will be hosting a unique pavilion-style stand and will be surrounded by some of its suppliers to demonstrate to visitors the breadth of its portfolio and capabilities.

The line-up includes Ceamsa, a manufacturer and supplier of a comprehensive range of high quality carrageenan and pectin products to the global food industry; Lonza Nutrition, a leading provider of high quality branded food ingredients and Nielsen Massey, a leading producer of vanilla extracts.

For more information, visit Cornelius at Food Matters Live, stand 332.