Sport as a fundamental factor in our lifestyle is playing an essential role in the growth of patents aimed at the creation of new sports nutrition products.

While most innovations, until now, have been aimed especially at high-performance athletes, new trends indicate that we must take into account consumers where sport and physical activity are part of their philosophy of life, in which nutrition plays a fundamental role in their daily routine.

Market trends tell us to think more and more about weekend runners, outdoor athletes or e-sports fans, groups of e-sports enthusiasts, who are increasingly demanding products that help them to maintain endurance for hours and increase their ability to concentrate in order to participate optimally in virtual competitions. 

The trend is also forcing the industry to be more environmentally friendly, and will do so even more in the future, placing part of the emphasis not only on the production and quality of its products, but also on the design of packaging and formats, with additive-free and environmentally friendly labels as a key principle.

Twice the number of patents

It is within this framework that a growing trend can be seen in the number of sports nutrition patents, which almost doubled from 330 in 2010 to 654 in 2019, without counting the patent data for China alone (the reports do not include them because they distort, to some extent, the global trend, as the Asian giant alone has published 895 patents in this decade).

Innovation in this area has gone hand in hand with two fundamental factors: the origin of the ingredients of this specialised sports nutrition, which are increasingly natural and organic, and secondly, the goal to be achieved. Taking into account the first aspect, although new compounds of vegetable origin have appeared and are becoming more popular, proteins, mainly dairy proteins, continue to dominate the market as a basic ingredient in the formulation of this type of specialised nutritional proposals to improve the body’s response to sporting activities. Milk protein is a natural, fast-absorbing product, low in fat and carbohydrates, which contains all the essential amino acids and, together with eggs, is the richest known source of BCAAs (the amino acids that build our muscles).

With regard to the second factor, while until now the focus has been mainly on strengthening muscle tissue, today these products are also aimed at improving brain health, new diets, nervous system responses, and the search for ways of delaying muscle fatigue. Despite this progress, muscle growth still dominates sports nutrition patent activity, accounting for 26% of the total. As for the leaders of these patents, the ranking is headed by China, Korea, and the USA, where many of the products designed to improve the response of our body and mind come from.

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