The pandemic effect: What changing exercise habits mean for the active nutrition industry


The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in many ways and exercise is no exception.  Combining changing habits with a heightened focus on individual health and well-being has resulted in people looking to supplements and protein-rich products both to improve fitness and to build immunity.

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At FrieslandCampina Ingredients, we are committed to improving people’s health through industry-leading ingredient science. As a part of this investment, we are working with the NOC*NSF (Olympic Committee of the Netherlands and Netherlands Sports Confederations) and other organisations to gain a deeper understanding of how the pandemic is affecting people’s exercise habits and how this has impacted their nutritional and protein supplement needs.

In the Netherlands, the NOC*NSF has found that 61% of Dutch people are exercising less during COVID-19[i], as gyms and sports clubs are closed. Reduced activity levels are even more pronounced in children and young adults, with 19 to 30 years olds saying they feel less physically fit (61%) and less emotionally resilient (42%) due to COVID-19[ii].

 This trend is echoed around the world. The pandemic has forced over 90% of active lifestyle consumers to adapt their training regimes[iii], mostly because public facilities have been unavailable (89%)[iv]. But not everyone ended up exercising less, surprisingly, nearly equal numbers of people exercised less (40%) as exercised more (41%)[v] during the pandemic.

 At the same time, the international health crisis means people are placing more emphasis on maintaining overall health and immunity, with sports and nutrition products being widely viewed as part of the solution for healthier societies. This goes some way to explaining why the number of people using sports nutrition products has increased by 50%[vi] but motivations for using these products changed. Improving immunity (61%) has overtaken the improvement of strength (32%) as the main driver for purchasing nutritional and protein supplements[vii]. This is a huge shift that has significant implications for brand owners deciding the positioning of their offerings.

 In turn, these changes open up the opportunity for adjustments in formulations, to include ingredients that tick both the protein and additional health benefit boxes, like immunity, gut health, improved sleep and more. Our comprehensive range of science-backed innovations for the active nutrition market, including Biotis™, Nutri Whey™ Isolate Clear, and Excellion® Calcium Caseinate S, is a great starting point

[i] 4.5 million Dutch people play less sports when sports clubs are closed.

[ij] 4.5 million Dutch people play less sports when sports clubs are closed.

[iii] FMCG Gurus, 2020

[iv] FMCG Gurus, 2020

[v] FMCG Gurus, 2020

[vi] FMCG Gurus, 2020

[vii] FMCG Gurus, 2020


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