The event has stood as a testament to the city’s dedication to fostering healthier, more active lifestyle.

Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor

Dubai recently hosted another edition of the Middle East’s grandest celebration of fitness and wellness, the Dubai Active Show 2023.  The event has stood as a testament to the city’s dedication to fostering healthier, more active lifestyles in recent years and saw another successful convergence of the best in fitness — from renowned brands to celebrity trainers. Optimum Nutrition, the world’s leading brand in sports nutrition, was among the storied partners of the event.

The brand signalled its strong intent to ramp up strategic investment in the region’s sports and fitness goals, as they also partnered with the broader fitness movement that is the Dubai Fitness Challenge (30×30) — an initiative by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, which has inspired millions of people to create a fitness-focused mindset since its launch in 2017.

Speaking on the sidelines of Dubai Active Show, Satyavrat Pendharkar, Glanbia’s Regional VP – Greater China, South Asia & META, expressed that the general populace’s outlook on fitness and the government’s underlying support contributed largely to this new roadmap: “In the UAE, the government invites people from all nationalities to participate in national level competitions, which creates opportunities.”
Satyavrat-Pendharkar Satyavrat Pendharkar speaks during an event.

“There is a fantastic underlying infrastructure for fitness in terms of stadiums and gyms. If you look at the per capita penetration of gyms in the UAE, it is comparable to some of the best cities and countries in the world. All of these factors make the UAE a highly compelling market for us at Glanbia,” Pendharkar added.

Glanbia estimates the size of the global sports nutrition market to be worth around $25 billion  and growing annually at a rate of between 5 and 7 percent. In the midst of that, they reckon that the UAE makes up just more than 50 percent of the total sports nutrition market in the Gulf region. Given the brand’s pedigree over 35 years, it is placed strongly to become a significant player in the government’s fitness push over the next few years.

Research from MetrixLab recently showed that the brand’s awareness and consideration among UAE consumers who have bought and consumed sports nutrition products within the past 12 months are at 95% and 85%, respectively. Those figures are expected to stand firm as the brand plans to onboard popular athletes aligned with its goal of supporting fitness and health-conscious communities, as well as lean on investments in research, education, and innovation.

Sustainability will be another crucial factor in their roadmap. Climate action and sustainability are among the foremost conversations in the UAE at the moment as the nation hosts this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP28.  Pendharkar emphasized that Optimum Nutrition’s presence in the UAE will be in sync with all of the region’s sustainability goals: “As a public limited company, we’ve made commitments across carbon, water, waste, and packaging.”

“We aim to reduce carbon emissions in our operations by 50% by 2030, and our current electricity usage is entirely from renewable sources. On the water front, we’ve already surpassed our 2020 goal with a 17% reduction and now target a further 10% cut by 2025 through conservation and reuse,” assured Pendharkar. “The treated water released by Glanbia exceeds the water consumed. Our hero product, Gold Standard Whey, already comes in 100% recyclable tubs, certified by global agencies. This commitment to sustainability is a vital part of our value proposition.”

Optimum Nutrition’s portfolio is most popularly known to cater to protein and creatine consumers, who tend to be athletes. However, the brand is looking to focus on increasing its penetration among fitness enthusiasts, whose participation in the category is comparatively low. In Pendharkar’s opinion, breaking stereotypes and emphasising that one doesn’t need to be a professional athlete to benefit from Optimum Nutrition’s products will be a key message. This shift in perspective was a compelling narrative at the event, with awareness-oriented boot camps at Dubai Active showcasing Optimum Nutrition’s dedication to making fitness a holistic and inclusive journey in the Middle East.

Optimum Nutrition’s core strategy in the region hinges on four pillars: Education, quality, advocacy, and authenticity. Advocacy centres around building credibility through ambassadors, of which they have over 200 in the region, and sharing personal experiences, whereas authenticity is ensured through a unique verification system that allows their consumers to digitally verify the source of the supplements they purchase.

The success of these pillars, particularly the ambassador program, has led to plans of doubling the number of personal trainers, expanding the team in the Middle East, and increasing investments in educational marketing.

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