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Expert Interview: HarmJan Speelman on new innovation opportunities in the sports nutrition industry

HarmJan Speelman

Gerard Klein Essink recently caught up with HarmJan Speelman, who for the last 12 years was responsible for the growth of the Volac whey protein business. He’s now an business development manager at Extruded Cereal Products BV (ECP), a company specialised in making extruded ingredients for the food industry.

GKE: What are the key market trends from your experience?

HJS: As a result of the ageing population in the western countries we are facing a high percentage of elderly in the next coming years, the costs of health care will rise. Consumers become more aware of being mentally and physically active to participate in the society as long as possible in a healthy manner.  Feeding yourself with the right nutrition is under the attention as never before. Sports nutrition which is regarded as healthy is picked up, not only by a broader group of active people, but also by the more mainstream consumer. The trends I see that are relevant for the food industry to take into consideration for the innovation and marketing strategy are less or no sugar, protein, snackification, convenience, digestive health (pro-biotics, enzymes, fibres), plant origin and above all taste.

GKE: What are the untapped opportunities for the active nutrition markets in your view?

HJS:  In my view the sports nutrition market is still very much about powders, tablets & gels but seeing the market moving from performance nutrition to active nutrition more reliable, well known formats will be nutritionally transformed with less sugar, more protein and digestive health with an excellent taste. Examples appearing at the market are puddings, bars, bread spread (peanut & chocolate), drinks and even confectionary products.

GKE: Which opportunities can you at ECP offer to assist innovation?

HJS: The food ingredients suppliers normally have big scale operations that are less flexible and focussed to process their origin (dairy, potatoes, soya etc.). Having the market opportunities and the rapidly changing nutritional character of the food products in mind, I believe flexible production processes (smaller and more diverse units), together with the ability to create added value on a broader variety of ingredients are beneficial to be successful. Furthermore, a strong market focus is necessary to guide the operation.  With our extrusion facilities we are able to create different formats of combined ingredients that enables the food industry to launch consumer products that follow the market trend.

Do feel free to contact HarmJan at ECP BV, Netherlands, M: +31(0)622668168, E: