2, A craze for protein in Denmark
Known as the “happiest country in the world”, Denmark is characterised by its good quality and level of life. It may be ‘only’ a 5-million-people country but its population has a rather high disposable income compared to other European countries and is more sensitive to health and environmentally-friendly trends than other nations. Gluten free and other free from products as well as vegetarian, vegan and reduced in fat or sugar products have found a very receptive consumer base in Denmark. Sports nutrition has seen growth as well because health concerns have led consumers to exercise more and turn to sports nutrition products to increase their stamina, gain muscle or mass and lose weight. Improvements in the Danish economy have contributed to a raise in disposable income also leading to growth in the sector. But the main characteristic and source of opportunities for international exporters of sports nutrition is the Danes’ absolute passion (some might even say obsession) for protein. They do not only invest in sports protein products such as powders and bars or drinks, they also enjoy products such as protein ice cream, protein oats or protein juices as part of a balanced diet and not only for sports performance purposes. This encourages sports nutrition manufacturers to enter Denmark with premium, high quality products and varied positioning following free from and vegan trends and also leads manufacturers to diversify their offer, widen their ranges with all sorts of everyday products with added protein, thus targeting a wider consumer base and not only athletes.
So if you have a protein product ready for the Danes to enjoy then this should certainly be a market to target for you! (And at Bolst Global we have a growing network of contacts and connections in Denmark to help you on your way )
#3 Advantageous Polish legislation
Poland is (maybe surprisingly) a very good market for sports nutrition products. It amounts to 108.60 million EUR in 2017 (PLN 456 million) with a 17% value growth in 2017. Between 2017 and 2022, it is expected to grow a further 65.9%. The rising popularity of exercise and sport drive strong growth in all product categories, with sports protein powders being the most popular products. The one advantage Poland offers to international sports nutrition exporters is that it is an easy market to enter because of lack of legislation around such products. Indeed, they are currently considered as normal food and not treated any differently from other food product categories. They do not bear special restrictions or rules unlike in some other countries. And because they are treated as food products, they are widely distributed: general retailers give shelf space for sports protein powders and bars just like they would for regular snacks. Thus, finding a distributor in Poland can be less tricky than in France or Germany for example. General retailers are a good option just as specialised shops, online sports retailers or fitness clubs. So find a reliable partner in Poland and start reaping some rewards of that partnership!
#4 France, a difficult choice of distribution channel
With 66 million inhabitants and a reasonably high disposable income per capita, France is a significant Western European market but it is nonetheless a challenging one for sports nutrition exporters. The main problem in France for sports nutrition manufacturers is the question of the distribution channel. France has many successful and huge retailers such as Carrefour, Super U, Auchan, Casino, E. Leclerc or Intermarché. For food and drink exporters, a country with so many national retailers is quite appealing because it makes the choice and search of channel easier. For the particular niche of sports nutrition however, these retailers are no use, as they do not offer any (or very little) sports nutrition. In France, protein powders and other sports nutrition products are considered a very specific and distinct category that cannot be directly linked to proper food and drink products and that attract only a minority of consumers. As such, they are not distributed in general grocery retailers. Pharmacies and parapharmacies offer food supplements, essentially vitamins and minerals, as well as ranges of personal care products but most of the time they do not offer sports nutrition products, and when they do their ranges are very limited.
In order to understand this market, it is important to know that these products have for a long time been distrusted and regarded as unhealthy, unnecessary or even dangerous by the French consumers who have associated them time and again with doping. Mentalities are now shifting, influenced by global health and fitness tendencies, inducing promising growth in the sector and encouraging news for foreign exporters. Yet, this long lack of trust for these products partly explains why general retailers and pharmacies/parapharmacies offer barely any sports nutrition products and why it is not an easy market to crack from a sports nutrition point of view.
The best distribution channels for sports nutrition exporters are specialised shops and online retailers. There are many specialised shops all over the country, some are national chains with many stores such as Decathlon or Intersport, others are smaller chains with some shops in one specific geographical region and others still are just one isolated shop in one city. This might sound very discouraging at first but only by targeting the biggest national chains and the medium-size regional ones you will get good distribution for your product in the whole country. And when it comes to individual shops, chances are that several of them use the same intermediary or distributor. Calling or emailing these shops is a time-consuming and tiring job but you would be wrong to dismiss it as a waste of time because unearthing a distributor is what will ultimately get your product sold in many small individual outlets and increase your sales significantly. So don’t give up, but maybe take on a French speaker to support you with this if you decide this is the market you want to get into!
Finally and another way to enter the market is via the digital channel. France has many online retailers and internet retailing is a major channel in this sector. Many companies have their own branded website but specialised online retailers exist as well. The internet has the advantage of offering great quality-price ratios, with regular promotions, the possibility to buy in bulk and also many details and information on the products which reassures French consumers. This may also be a channel worth exploring.
At Bolst Global we support sports nutrition and protein brands to export into both European and Middle Eastern markets. For further information, please complete the contact form below. Details of the range of services we offer, can be found here