Managing Director, BENEO, Asia Pacific
In the past, sports nutrition products were targeted to an extremely niche group of athletes with very specific dietary needs. However, in recent years, consumers have been adopting healthier and more active lifestyles, leading to a boom of the sportification trend and widespread demand for sports nutrition products in the market.
An additional key driver of this development is the rising popularity of e-sports. The pandemic has further intensified the number of gamers worldwide1, with the largest percentage of players located in the Asia-Pacific region (roughly 54 percent, or 1.741 billion players).2 In 2022, the games market in this region was worth a whopping 87.9 billion US dollars.3
With e-sports gaining traction worldwide, this also comes with a global audience, more competitions, and higher prize money, which leads to immense pressure for many professional e-athletes.
The Mental and Physical Strains of E-Sports
What many don’t know is that the e-sports industry is known to have a comparatively short career span, with a majority of contenders retiring in their mid-20s – much earlier than in many traditional sports like basketball or football.4 One reason for this? Poor health. Within the world of e-sports, the eyes, back, and joints of gamers come under particular physical strain as a result of long periods of sitting, along with one-sided movements of the shoulder-arm area. In addition, the brain is under constant intense pressure, as mental performance and endurance are crucial to success.
With this in mind, there is an enormous opportunity for manufacturers to cater to both e-sports athletes and the wider target group of gamers by formulating sportified products that can help serve their nutritional needs.
Staying Focused with Functional Carbohydrates
However, many manufacturers are still continuing to develop products that offer a quick energy boost via rapidly available carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, sucrose or glucose syrup in combination with caffeine or taurine. This will not deliver the sustained energy these gamers need to maintain concentration for a long period of time. Instead, alternative carbohydrates like BENEO’s Palatinose™ can offer a balanced supply of glucose energy to help them stay focused. Scientists have also found that products containing Palatinose™ can help enhance a person’s mood and memory skills 5- two very important factors when it comes to e-sports.
Beeting the Competition
Derived from sugar beet, Palatinose™ is fully, yet slowly digestible and low-glycaemic, which contributes to an increased fat burning rate since active consumers can draw on their carbohydrate reserves for longer. It also provides full carbohydrate energy in a sustained way, eliminating unwanted blood sugar spikes.
Additionally, Palatinose™ also enjoys a range of technical benefits and is ideal for use in various applications such as beverages, baked goods and snacks. It comes with a mild sweetening profile, is soluble, and has very low hygroscopicity — which allows it to absorb virtually no moisture and remains stable under harsh processing conditions, giving it the advantage over other carbohydrates for use in sports applications. For example, e-athletes looking for a delicious snack to provide them with sustained energy, without blood sugar spikes, can enjoy a biscotti with PalatinoseTM. This crispy twice-baked cookie, developed by the BENEO-Technology Center, contains dried pistachio, cranberries and pumpkin seeds, giving it a pleasant sensation in the mouth. At the same time, it contains prebiotic chicory root fibre, supporting a healthy gut.
As demand for sports nutrition products soars and e-sports continues to thrive, food manufacturers can jump on the opportunity by harnessing functional ingredients to meet the nutritional needs of professional and casual gamers and provide them with more tailored food items that help them get ahead of the competition.
World Economic Forum (2020): How COVID-19 is taking gaming and esports to the next level (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/covid-19-taking-gaming-and-esports-next-level/)
NewZoo: Global Games Market Report 2023
NewZoo: Global Games Market Report 2023
Gregory Leporati: “Aching wrists, early retirement and the surprising physical toll of esports”. The Washington Post (Published on 14 March 2022).
Young H, Benton D (2014) The glycemic load of meals, cognition and mood in middle and older aged adults with differences in glucose tolerance: A randomized trial. e-SPEN 9(4):e147–e154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnme.2014.04.003