Sports nutrition market poised to take off in region, experts say

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Jaco Blund
Getty Images / Jaco Blund
There is a huge, underserved potential for sports nutrition products and services in Latin America, according to experts.

Rick Kreider, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Health & Kinesiology at Texas A&M University and an editor of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​, says that in his view the sports nutrition market in Latin America is poised to take off.  Kreider was one of the speakers at the Sports Nutrition Summit in San Diego, CA, which was a joint effort of NutraIngredients-USA and ISSN.

Ripe market

“I think it’s a ripe market.  We recently had an ISSN meeting in Medellin, in Colombia, and it was one of our most successful international meetings.  We had more than 300 people in the room,”​ Kreider told NutraIngredients-LATAM.

“We have a huge following in Brazil for ISSN.  And I am constantly being pushed to update my book so it is available in Spanish. And CES University in Medellin just launched a sports nutrition masters degree program, which is the first of its kind in Colombia,” ​he added.

Gym membership

One way of measuring the potential of the sports nutrition market is to look at the number of health and fitness clubs in each market.  Although it’s unreasonable to expect that there would be a 1:1 conversion ratio of membership at such clubs into sports nutrition consumers, it’s a good place to start.

According to recent statistics, Brazil leads the way with more than 34,000 health clubs in 2017.  Mexico was next, with slightly more than 12,000, and Argentina was third, with a shade under 8,000. Chile was fourth, with just under 2,000 gyms.

In terms of health club market penetration, a rough calculation (the population statistics used and the number of gyms come from different years) reranks the order slightly:

  • Argentina: one gym for every 5,500 residents.
  • Brazil: one gym for every 6,200 residents.
  • Chile: one gym for every 10,000 residents
  • Mexico:  one gym for every 10,500 residents.

Gym numbers match sales figures

This ranking matches well with information presented by Matthew Oster, head of Consumer Health for market research firm Euromonitor at the Sports Nutrition Summit. Oster’s figures showed that Argentina and Brazil account for the highest growth in sales of sports nutrition products in Latin America.

In addition, South America is the world’s most urbanized continent​, according to the Atlantic Council. The group projects that by 2025 315 million people will live in Latin America's large cities where the per-capita GDP is estimated to reach $23,000—more than that of Portugal in 2007.  Consumers in these settings are more closely linked to advertising messaging connected to health and fitness are thus more likely to become sports nutrition consumers.