The supplement market is highly competitive. As consumers look for ways to make their lives more convenient and achieve their health and fitness goals, more and more have made scientifically-formulated supplements part of their lifestyle.
As demand for these products has continued to rise, so too has research and development as manufacturers look to continually improve formulations and gain a competitive advantage in the market with new innovations.
As a consequence, supplement and nutraceutical manufacturers today invest significantly to deliver various new innovations within existing categories, as well as entirely new products.
We take a closer look at some of the more prolific developments in the supplement industry in recent years, which help to keep products at the cutting-edge of this exciting industry.
Organic and natural ingredients
As the world grapples with a pandemic, more people are focusing on their overall health and wellness. In their quest to improve their lifestyles and lose weight, many are focused on overhauling their diet by dropping overly processed food stuffs and sugar and including more natural and organic products.
And the same trend is emerging in the supplement sector as consumers demand products with healthier ingredients and products that positively impact their bodies and the environment.
While demand for organic, ethically-sourced ingredients was already on the rise before the pandemic, the novel coronavirus has exponentially increased consumer appetite for these products.
In response, supplement manufacturers are creating formulations that contain non-GMO and organic ingredients.
A popular category is organic whey, which is created using dairy from organically-reared cows that are typically grass-fed, range freely and aren’t given artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. These products are often formulated without added sugars, preservatives and colourants.
Raw-form ingredients also feature in new product releases. Biogen, for example, recently launched BULK RAW, an innovative mass gainer that bridges the gap between sports supplements and performance foods.
Biogen has formulated this premium supplement using real foods such as sweet potato, raw oats and rice to provide quality carbohydrate sources, and plant-based proteins.
An extension of the natural supplement theme is rise in popularity of plant-sourced herbal extracts and beneficial botanical ingredients such as curcumin, echinacea, bromelain, green tea extract, garlic, berberine and ashwagandha, to name a few.
While traditionally found in cosmetic products, ingredients that originate from plant sources such as herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, leaves or seeds are making their way into many supplement products across various categories.
From pre-workouts and fat-burning supplements to mood and focus enhancers, botanical ingredients are increasingly used as an alternative or adjunct to pharmaceutical products by those who want a natural remedy and want to reduce their reliance on artificially-created compounds.
Supplement manufacturers may also include relevant botanicals in their updated formulations as science affirms their effectiveness for fat loss, energy production or other benefits to performance or general health and wellbeing.
As a standalone supplement, CBD products are possibly the biggest innovation to emerge from the industry in recent years.
CBD, or cannabidiol is a naturally-occurring, active non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis or hemp plant’s resinous flower.
CBD is removed from plants during an extraction process and manufactured into oils, tinctures or capsules, which help to enhance mood and memory, and reduce sensory perceptions such as pain. As such, CBD is commonly used to treat pain and inflammation, restlessness, sleeplessness and anxiousness.
In their quest to attract new customers and keep existing clients loyal, supplement manufacturers continue to innovate in protein powder options – arguably the industry’s gateway product and most popular segment, which makes it the most competitive supplement category.
Continually developing new flavours has emerged as an effective means to capture market share and secure a market-leading position in a product category that hasn’t seen much innovation from a formulation and base ingredient perspective in many years.
Modern protein powders now include a wide array of delectable dessert flavours like milk tart and cookies and cream, popular commercial chocolate options like Bar One and Tex, and indulgent and exotic treat flavours, such as crème brulee and hazelnut latte, to name a few.
Licensing trademarked flavours is perhaps the most recent advancement in protein powder flavour innovation. This approach has become increasingly popular because it creates an exclusive experience for consumers that helps to separate brands and specific product lines from the competition.
New product categories
A new product category has emerged alongside the rising popularity of the low-carb lifestyle as more health-conscious consumers shun sugar and processed carbs.
The result is a proliferation of easy-to-consume products such as bars, snacks, powders and ready-to-drink beverages that support a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle and fall under the ‘keto’ supplements banner.
READ MORE: Biogen Set To Drop New Keto Range
These products help to make low-carb eating more convenient and can make this diet more effective by accelerating or amplifying the body’s natural processes as it enters a state known as ketosis.
This is the metabolic state where the body most efficiently converts stored and ingested fat into usable energy.
And the performance and weight-loss benefits many people have experienced have ensured this innovative supplement product category will continue to grow in prominence.
Modern supplement formulations now also often included added ingredients that deliver additional health, performance or lifestyle benefits.
Supplement manufacturers are leveraging functional ingredients to create innovative products and completely new categories such as diet proteins. These products offer unique or enhanced formulations with a mix of ingredients that cater to different goals and needs.
For instance, various supplemental protein products now contain compounds that aid digestion, improve digestive health and enhance absorption.
Primal Skinny Whey and Native Whey, for example, are enriched with prebiotics and digestive enzymes, which help keep your gut as fit and healthy as your body. And Biogen Lean Whey contains OatWell™, a patented form of oat beta-glucan fibre that helps to maintain blood glucose levels to curb hunger, maintain energy levels and aid digestion.
Including specific protein-digesting enzymes like proteases and peptidases, also ensures that more of the protein you drink in your shake or smoothie is absorbed by your body to benefit your muscles.
And amylase enzymes, which break down carbs, along with enzymes that digest fats and sugars, can reduce symptoms associated with lactose intolerance or other forms of digestive discomfort commonly experienced by sensitive individuals.
Collagen is another ingredient rising in popularity amid the ‘beauty from within’ trend. This structural protein is vital to support skin, hair, nails and connective tissue health and repair damage that occurs from activity and ageing. As such, supplement manufacturers like Biogen now include collagen in products like its Keto Meal Shake with Collagen.
And a review of supplement labels may also reveal line items referred to as proprietary blends, stacks or complexes, or patented ingredients.
As manufacturers continually look for ways to boost product efficacy or separate their product from the rest, many choose to include patented ingredients or blends that independent nutraceutical companies have developed and often tested.
Supplement manufacturers may also patent a unique combination of ingredients to ensure that no competitors can copy or compete against their formulation. You’ll commonly find patented ingredients in pre-workouts and fat burners, but they can also appear in other supplements.
Here are a few common patented ingredients currently dominating modern supplement formulations:
- AstraGin® is a patented, 100% natural compound that increases absorption of many vital nutrients to promote a healthy gut environment.
- GlycerSize (formally known as GlycerPump) is a stable form of 65% glycerol powder, which offers enhanced hydration and increased stamina, and fully saturates muscles.
- Sinetrol® is a non-stimulant-based weight-loss ingredient with benefits supported by 3 clinical studies.
- Bioperine® is sourced from piperine and has patented status for its ability to increase the bioavailability of certain nutritional compounds.
- Teacrine® is a patented compound that delivers energy, mental clarity, and improved motivation and mood.
- Nitrosigine® is a safe, non-stimulant-based, patented complex of bonded arginine and silicon, that is scientifically engineered and proven to deliver performance benefits.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.