Early life nutrition
The nutrition revolution: the growing demand for sustainable performance and active nutrition and how to meet it
The appetite for sustainable nutrition has surged in recent years. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact their consumption choices have, and this is leading to people looking for products that not only support their own health, but also the health of the planet.
Sustainable nutrition aims to reduce the environmental footprint of food production, consumption and distribution while also ensuring food security for people around the globe. And with 51% of consumers now considering sustainability when making food choices,[i] there’s a huge opportunity for brands to develop sustainably nutritious solutions.
At FrieslandCampina Ingredients, we’re dedicated to creating sustainably nutritious ingredients that help feed the future, the right way. We already offer a range of carbon-neutral ingredients, such as our carbon-neutral dairy protein, to help brands meet the growing demand for sustainable nutrition. But this is just the start – brands throughout the food and nutrition industry need to come together to invest in nutritious products that help protect our planet’s future.
In this blog, Ramon Mommersteeg, our Market Segment Manager for Performance and Active Nutrition, talks to us about the growing interest in sustainable nutrition, the barriers and opportunities linked to this trend – and how brands can take part in the nutrition revolution.
Q: What do you think is the top sustainability concern for consumers now?
A: In today’s world, consumers are more conscious than ever about their environmental impact. I think the biggest sustainability concern for consumers right now is reducing their personal carbon emissions with 63% of global consumers making active attempts to reduce their carbon footprint.[ii]
But while interest in sustainability is growing, consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned about greenwashing – 24% of global consumers have boycotted brands over ethical credentials in the last two years.2 People want to be sure the brands they buy from are genuinely committed to sustainable nutrition and aren’t making false or exaggerated claims. They want companies to mirror their attitudes and make genuine efforts to create more sustainable solutions.
Q: Do you think demand is increasing for performance and active nutrition products with sustainability positionings?
A: Definitely! Athletes and active people care about the environment just as much as everyone else. Although demand is still evolving, from looking at general consumer trends and seeing how sustainability is becoming an increasingly important purchasing factor, I think we’ll see a steady rise in interest for sustainably positioned products in the performance and active nutrition market.
Performance nutrition is all about achieving goals – athletes want to maximise their performance and there will be no compromise here. For athletes and active individuals looking to make more sustainable nutrition choices, they will still expect the same results from their supplements and high-protein food and drinks. As such, brands looking to create performance and active nutrition solutions with sustainable positionings will need to use ingredients that provide both the eco-friendly credentials consumers are looking for as well as the high-quality nutrition they expect to achieve their goals.
Q: Why can brands benefit from developing sustainability nutritious solutions in the performance and active nutrition market?
A: As the world becomes more focused on sustainability, there’s a growing opportunity for brands to take the lead in the development of sustainable performance and active nutrition products. This emerging market offers endless potential for companies to become thought leaders and front-runners in a space that is still in its infancy. By taking action and investing in credible sustainable solutions, brands can reap numerous benefits and position themselves as innovators in the industry.
Profitability is one such benefit. Research has shown that consumers are willing to pay a premium for environmentally friendly products. For example, 56% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products made with sustainable agricultural practices and 43% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products dedicated to solving key environmental issues.[iii] Brands that prioritise sustainability will be able to cement their position as a responsible company – while also benefiting financially.
While many new sustainability initiatives in the market focus on packaging, there is still significant room for innovation within the production lines, processing and transportation methods used to create nutritional products. I believe that a holistic approach is required and brands need to consider the ingredients inside their sustainably positioned products as well as the way it is packaged. By using sustainable ingredients, brands can make concrete sustainability gains that align with consumer values and help set them apart in a crowded market.
Q: Do you see any barriers to creating sustainable nutrition?
A: One significant obstacle I see is financial cost to consumers. Sustainable ingredients and production methods can be more expensive than less sustainable practices. While consumers say they are happy to pay more for sustainable products, high inflation and economic uncertainty can make it more difficult for some consumers to justify paying this premium.
Complexity is another barrier. You only have to walk into a supermarket to see brands claiming their sustainability progress with all kinds of labels and logos. This makes it difficult for consumers to decipher the trustworthiness of a product. Couple this with increased consumer scepticism and growing fears of greenwashing and it can be challenging for brands to effectively communicate the sustainability of their products to consumers.
Fortunately, there is a key to overcoming these challenges – complete transparency. Consumers value openness and honesty about a brand’s sustainability practices, as well as any challenges they might be facing. In fact, more than 3 in 5 actually say their trust in a brand increases when they communicate the sustainability challenges they’re facing.[iv]
Third-party verification can help ensure that a brand’s sustainability claims are meaningful. One of the reasons I’m grateful to work for FrieslandCampina Ingredients is because we recognise the value of transparency through third-party verification. That’s why we’ve partnered with ClimatePartner, which enables us to accurately calculate our ingredients’ footprints, make emissions reductions and offset the remainder through ClimatePartner’s certified initiatives. We can then communicate the impact of our sustainability efforts to consumers using ClimatePartner’s label and tracking systems.
By prioritising trust through transparency, brands will be able to build consumer trust and loyalty, while also strengthening their position as a leader in sustainability and contributing to a more sustainable future.
Q: What solutions are available for brands looking to enter the market for sustainable nutrition?
A: The demand for sustainable nutrition is on the rise and the market opportunity is clear. With innovative solutions emerging, brands now have a range of options to satisfy this growing consumer need.
We’re leading the way in sustainable nutrition at FrieslandCampina Ingredients – and it makes me incredibly proud to be a part of this movement. As well as our carbon-neutral protein powder, we also offer fully carbon-neutral end product concepts, meaning brands can create carbon-neutral solutions with an exact nutritional and functionality match that their consumers are familiar with. On top of this, our team of sustainability experts are ready and available to help brands take part in this nutrition revolution.
For those looking to make a direct impact on sustainability, we also offer investment options. Partnering with the FrieslandCampina Ingredients team, brands can co-invest in our sustainability measures that help us to create a more sustainable nutrition industry that feeds the future, the right way. By working with companies that already have the methods and infrastructure in place to make sustainable ingredients, brands can accelerate their sustainability initiatives and more quickly reduce the carbon footprint of their products. Because together, we can achieve more.
The time for innovation is now
Interest in sustainable nutrition is here to stay. As consumers and brands alike become more aware of their environmental impact, the market for sustainable solutions – both in sports nutrition and beyond – will only continue to grow. This presents an opportunity for forward-thinking companies to seize the moment and lead the charge in creating sustainably nutritious solutions.
The key to success in this burgeoning market is to make real commitments to sustainability and transparency, and to back up those claims with tangible actions. By doing so, brands can differentiate themselves from the competition and tap into the vast potential of this still-developing market.
To me, the most exciting part about the sustainable nutrition market is that it is constantly evolving – every day, developments are being made to help consumers and brands alike meet their eco-conscious goals. FrieslandCampina Ingredients is playing an active role in this evolution. Consumers recognise that production at-scale comes with a cost – and healthy nutrition, as vital as it is, is no exception. As much as 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the agricultural industry, with dairy ingredients accounting for around 2% of that figure. So, to truly succeed in making a difference, brands need to partner with an ingredients supplier that shares their commitment to sustainability, like we do. Only by doing so will brands have a significant impact on their products’ carbon emissions.
With the right supplier at their side, brands can tap into the growing consumer demand for sustainable nutrition while doing their part to protect the planet. By working together, I believe that we can make sustainable nutrition the new normal and create a brighter, more eco-friendly future for all.
If your brand is looking to take its next big step in sustainability, we’re here to help. Connect with us today to explore the huge market potential for sustainable nutrition, or learn more about our sustainable range of ingredients here.
[i] EIT Food, EIT Food Trust Report, 2021
[ii] FMCG Gurus Top 10 trends for 2022, 2022
[iii] Innova, Sustainable regional consumer insights, 2021
[iv] Innova, Top 10 trends for 2023, 2023
[v] Poore, J., & Nemecek, T., ‘Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers’, Science, 2018 360(6392), 987-992.
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