In 2017, the global sports nutrition market size was estimated at USD 11.64 billion, with projections it will grow around 9.7% by 2024. Manufacturers need to be sure products are safe and conform to stated quality parameters.


What Are Sports Nutrition Products?

The European Specialist Sport Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) defines sports nutrition as:

“Products designed for and used by athletes, exercisers and sportsmen to improve their nutritional intake and/or some aspect of health, wellbeing, performance, muscle growth and/or recovery from exercise.”

Most products are formulated using natural ingredients, including egg and dairy proteins, fibers, sugars and vegetable starches, vitamins and minerals, and other non-essential ingredients (e.g. herbs).

Athletes need the right nutrition. Gender, the type of sport, and the intensity of training, will affect the type of sports nutrition products athletes use.

Choosing the Right Product

This can be very difficult, depending on several factors including the type of sport and whether it is leisure-based or competitive. Basic divisions are:

  • Endurance sports – e.g. marathon running, triathlon
  • Resistance & strength training – e.g. weightlifting
  • Track & field and martial arts – e.g. sprinting, swimming, boxing, long jump
  • Team sports – e.g. basketball, badminton, soccer, hockey

When choosing a sports nutrition product, the athlete must consider energy. High performance sports will use considerably more energy, but consumption will fluctuate depending on whether the athlete is competing or just training.

Endurance athletes must consider their intake of carbohydrates, which will have a major effect on results. Protein usage also differs depending on age and body weight, and the type of sport. Amino acids are required to form protein structures and help develop muscle tissue. Stamina sports, e.g. triathlons and weightlifting, need dietary fat for energy. Finally, athletes use, and therefore require, more vitamins than non-sportspeople.

Sports nutrition products are also a good way to replace the water, minerals and trace elements lost during sweating.

Manufacturers have developed a range of products to help athletes meet their goals:

  • Weight management products
  • Muscle core products
  • Energy boosting products for pre and post exercise
  • Isotonic beverages for regeneration
  • Nutritional products, including supplements

Dosage forms include powders, granulates, liquids, capsules, tablets, drops, bars, instant drinks and gels, and the products come in a variety of packaging types.

Finally, pricing is dependent on the ingredients. These may include minerals/trace minerals, proteins, protein concentrates, amino acids, carbohydrates, botanicals, and special targeting ingredients (e.g. for the immune system, bones and joints, etc.).

Quality and Safety

Comprehensive quality assurance helps stakeholders ensure their products meet legal requirements and satisfy customers. Using state-of-the-art analysis techniques, this has two parts:

  1. Continuous monitoring of quality parameters to ensure:
    • Advertised nutrient levels are correct
    • Minerals/trace elements/vitamins comply with legal requirements
    • Declared nutritional values are observed (including fatty and amino acids)
  2. Contamination checks:
    • Microbial contaminants
    • Pesticide residues
    • Allergens
    • Genetically modified organisms (GMO)
    • Chemical contaminants – heavy metals, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, MCPD and its esters, and mineral oil residues (MOSH/MOAH)

Shelf Life

Manufacturers and suppliers also need to be sure products meet quality standards until the best before date. This is a legal requirement.

Nutrients may degrade during storage however, so testing is required to ensure degradation is within permissible tolerances and microbiological stability is maintained. Special testing methods can simulate long storage, following which products can be tested to ensure they match advertised quality parameters. Packaging should also be tested to ensure it isn’t adversely impacting the product.

SGS Solutions

SGS provides a comprehensive range of services to help manufacturers and suppliers of sports nutrition products comply with relevant safety and quality requirements.

We offer consultancy and testing services for all sports nutrition products, including:

  • Dietary supplements
  • Balanced diet products
  • Weight-control products, either daily ration or meal replacement

With a worldwide network of auditors, we provide a range of certifications including HACCP, SQF, IFS, BRC and, FSSC 22000, and we offer a range of supplementary services, including training, package evaluation, label reviews, export checks, and consultations to help with quality assurance and product development.

For the complete range of SGS services and support visit

Sabine Larsen-Vefring
Global Business Development Manager
t: +49 30 34 607-746