Fonterra brings mental health to the fore with novel sports nutrition formulas

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Zave Smith
Getty | Zave Smith

Related tags Protein Sports nutrition

Fonterra revealed its latest insights on nutritional support for athletes' mental wellbeing and presented a range of product concepts with the body and brain in mind, during Vitafoods 2023.

The global dairy nutrition co-operative joined the event in Geneva last week (May 9-11), focusing on its wellbeing solutions brand, Nutiani, and its recent research with consumers (IPSOS Nutiani, Consumer Wellness Research, August 2021) and athletes (Athlete Incubator) focusing on the relationship between brain and body health. 

Their research revealed: 65% of consumers believe that their mental health impacts their physical health (including weight), 35% more social conversations on stress were had in the first half of 2020, compared to the previous year, and there was a 73% increase in searches for 'stress supplements' in Google between 2019 and 2022.

Alex Williams, Fonterra's Marketing Manager, Europe, told NutraIngredients: "There's been increased press attention on the mental health challenges associated with professional level sport and athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have been speaking openly about their mental health which has helped to make consumers more aware of this element of their health."

Several sports nutrition brands have already gained success by focusing on brain health. Alpha Brain's Memory and Focus supplement, with L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine and phosphatidylserine, saw a 766% growth in Amazon sales between 2020 and 2022. The brand is now bundling its protein supplement with the memory supplement to drive protein sales.

The Fonterra Athlete Incubator Project was conducted in three phases over 12 months from 2021 to 2022 and focused on qualitative consumer research, paper concept testing and prototype sensory trials.

From the focus groups with elite athletes and support staff, they uncovered six consistent nutritional product needs by the top athletes; convenience and ease of use, taste, natural or whole foods based, affordability, simplicity, and trust.

Drawing on the findings, the team developed a portfolio of ready-to-market concepts to support the mental health and wellbeing needs of consumers alongside physical needs.

These include; Brain + Body protein powder, featuring Nutiani broad-spectrum Phospholipids 70 for focus, cognition, and stress, and NZMP Whey Protein Isolate 895 for muscle health and strength; Protein & Phospholipid Shake to address weight and stress management; and Phospholipid Latte packed with coffee extract and broad-spectrum phospholipids to facilitate stress management and boost energy levels.

Fonterra body + mind
Nutiani Body + Mind concepts

From their trial within their athlete group the team found 100% of the elite athletes who sampled the protein powder would recommend it, and 58% of them said they noticed improvements in their mindset after a month of daily consumption.

Phospholipids are vital nutrients for the human brain and body, with bovine source being the closest possible to natural composition. While lipids have been said to constitute nearly 50% of the brain's dry weight (Hamilton et al. 2007), we can suffer as much as a 20% decline in phospholipid levels by the age of 80 (Svennerholmet al, 2018).

"Phospholipids have been used in infant formula for many years but as these reduce with age it makes sense to bring these into products for the older generations as well," adds Williams.

Nutiani's Phospholipids 70 powder concentrated from cheese whey contains: 5 -7% Phospholipids, <5% Lactose, >65.8% Protein, <18% Fat, and 6g delivers 300 mg phospholipids.

The firm's Phospholipids 100 powder concentrated from anhydrous milk fat production provides: 7-9% Phospholipids, 45% Lactose, 30% Protein, 17% Fat; and 4.2g delivers 300 mg phospholipids.

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