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The overall weight-loss/nutritional shake category spans ready-to-drink diet aids (Slim Fast), pediatric nutrition needs (PediaSure) and adult nutrition needs (Ensure and Boost). Out of all of these, it’s adult nutrition that creates the most synergy with the backbench; seniors need protein and supplementation to ensure a healthy life free of broken hips and fractured elbows. But that isn’t the only prescription-heavy demographic checking out the latest Ensure and Boost flavors. People coming out of surgery and cancer patients are increasingly being turned on to their nutritional needs and how adult nutritional products can help fulfill those needs.
There’s also the increased protein needs associated with aging and a sedentary lifestyle. Clinical research shows that beginning around the age of 40 years, people can start to lose 8% of muscle mass per decade, which can lead to loss of strength and mobility.
That process accelerates as people get older — older adults lose approximately 3% of their lean body mass per year, according to published reports. It’s a process called sarcopenia, and it can be combated with exercise and proper nutrition. In the United States, an estimated 53% of men and 43% of women older than 80 years are sarcopenic.
Those are the factors behind product introductions like Abbott Nutrition’s Ensure ImmunBalance, which contains both prebiotics and probiotics to help boost the immune system, and Ensure Muscle Health, a ready-to-drink solution that contains Abbott’s proprietary ingredient, Revigor, a source of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate — or HMB, an amino-acid metabolite — and 13 g of protein.
While sales are down across the core Ensure brand, according to SymphonyIRI Group data, that may be a case of self-cannibalization. Just outside the top five in this category are Ensure Muscle Health, which generated $12.3 million for the 12 weeks ended April 17 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart). Ensure Immunbalance comes in at $9.2 million for the quarter, up 181.8%.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Weight Loss/Nutritionals Mid-Year Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.