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2014 marked another big year in the supplement industry. With the market continuing to grow and evolve rapidly, we’ve seen a string of new products, new movers and shakers as well as the demise of some beloved supplements and even companies. With the year finishing up, it’s a good time to take a look back at some of the major events that dominated the supplement world in 2014 and also predict where the industry may go in 2015.

1. The Rise of AMP Citrate & DMBA HCL

Since the demise of 1, 3 Dimethylamylamine or DMAA around 2012, there’s been a scramble in the industry to try and find the next best ingredient to replace this popular and effective stimulant. For awhile, the industry was in a bit of a grey area where they were using combinations of caffeine, bitter orange extract, PEA (phenylethylamine) and methyltyramine among others to try and recreate the effects of DMAA. But nothing seemed quite the same. However, the start of 2014 brought with it a new stimulant known as AMP Citrate or 1,3 Dimethylbutylamine (DMBA)

This ingredient started appearing in more and more pre workouts and fat burners such as BodyWar Pre War and Platinum Labs OptiBurn Amped and provided a similar energy kick to that of the original DMAA. In addition, a new variation of AMP Citrate – DMBA HCL was also being touted as another alternative stimulant. However, with popularity also comes scrutiny and by the end of 2014, the Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority (ASADA) had already cautioned its use in competition stating that “Athletes testing positive to this stimulant in-competition may face a possible anti-doping rule violation.”

AMP Citrate and DMBA HCL can still be used generally, however, as with any supplements that contain stimulants, it’s important to follow dosing recommendations closely and cautiously. There’s an inkling in the industry though, that both these two stimulants have a limited life expectancy and it’s only a matter of time before they suffer the same fate as DMAA.

2. Amino Spiking

Perhaps the most dominant issue of 2014 has been that of amino spiking, which was actually brought to the attention of the public in late 2013 with a video from CEO of TigerFitness.com Marc Lobliner. In it, he detailed the practices of some emerging company’s who ‘spiked’ their protein powders by adding in undisclosed amounts of amino acids and also creatine as a way of boosting the protein content. The operative word however is ‘undisclosed’, with many in the industry noting that fully transparent labelling showing added amino acids or creatine is not considered ‘spiking’ but rather ‘fortifying’.

Regardless of how you see things, customers are not happy with this practice and many company’s have already been placed under the pump and potential class actions organised, as a way to weed out dodgy protein makers. Amino spiking doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, especially since the cost of protein has risen in the last couple of years and will most likely continue to climb. As such, the best thing you can do in 2015 is to focus more on your diet as this is where the majority of your protein should be coming from and brush up on your label reading.

3. Quantity is King

As the industry continues to expand and competition becomes increasingly fierce, many of the larger company’s will be looking to maintain their stronghold by dramatically increasing their range of supplements. This will essentially allow their customers the opportunity to meet all their supplement needs from the one company. Take for example the 2014 release of the Essentials Series from Muscletech or the DNA Series from BSN. These new series contain a huge range of products, many of them single ingredients such as CLA, Fish Oil or a simple whey protein. Their aim is to tackle both the issue of bulk supplement suppliers and discount supplement suppliers specialising in single ingredients.

In 2015, get ready to see a huge new range of supplements from popular and well established company’s such as PharmaFreak, MusclePharm and BPI Sports. And while this movement won’t stop new company’s from popping up; if they’re planning to take on the greats, they better make sure their supplements are innovative, well dosed and will work.

4. Bulk Supplements

Continuing on from the last point, bulk supplement company’s are what many of the better known brands are trying to compete with these days. Year on year, there have been more and more of these bulk suppliers appearing on the market such as the Australian company Pure Supps. They are still able to sell high quality products, but have been able to cut costs and pass on savings by minimising expenditure on advertising, packaging and whatnot.

Bulk supplements aren’t a bad option and are especially useful for more experienced trainers who may know a little more about their supplements. It’s definitely a direction that the supplement industry will continue to head towards over the next couple of years with bulk, custom designed supplements the next frontier.

5. Bankruptcies

One of the most shocking events that occurred this year was probably the bankruptcy of one of the most well known supplement brands in the industry; Gaspari Nutrition. Having made such famous products such as MyoFusion, SizeOn and SuperPump, it was surprising to hear the company fold towards the latter half of 2014. Since filing for bankruptcy, Gaspari Nutrition has since been bought by Allegro Nutrition LLC, a branch of a major Irish global marketing and sales distribution company. Now that they’ve been bought out, it’s unsure what is going to happen to the company or its much respected ex CEO Rich Gaspari. But if there’s any news, you’ll be sure to hear about it first from MrSupplement.

Gaspari Nutrition was just one of the few company’s that have filed for bankruptcy this year. Some of the other major ones include MRI and ProLab. However, bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean the demise of a company. Rather, it mostly means that the company is taken over or bought by another investor and behind the scenes restructuring takes place. Most of the time, consumers are none the wiser as products continue to sell.

Many supplement company’s are often run by people who have a passion for the industry, but who often lack business and financial experience, which can leave them at risk of mismanagement. In addition, the supplement world is increasingly cutthroat and competitive, making it harder and harder to stay afloat. For example, after having bought Musashi a couple of years ago, Nestle decided to sell the company to Post Holdings in 2014 amidst poor sales. 2015 should be an interesting year for the supplement industry and hopefully Gaspari can make a comeback.

6. Overhyped Products

2014 was also a year where overhyped announcements seemed to dominate. Every couple of months, company’s were espousing the ‘latest breakthroughs’ or teasing supplements that were going to ‘revolutionise the industry’. One of the biggest culprits would probably have to be BSN, who ‘pushed’ their new product back in June by suggesting that ‘The world of sports nutrition is about to change’. This led to the announcement of a new No Xplode featuring a slightly better formulation than its predecessor. It wasn’t a bad pre workout supplement, but it wasn’t entirely revolutionary.

Another big culprit of overhyped releases this year would have to be Phil Heath’s own supplement brand Gifted Nutrition, which was released just before the 2014 Olympia. No one can deny that Phil is a great bodybuilder and one that knows his stuff, but Gifted Nutrition was not a winning move. The supplements were fairly average and really did nothing to enhance the actual industry. It was great to see such a formidable bodybuilder win his 4th Olympia title, but his prowess on stage has definitely not translated well to his supplement range. We still have high hopes for Gifted Nutrition, so let’s see what 2015 will bring to the company and its products.

The final notable example of an overhyped release would have to be Phil’s ex sponsor Muscletech, who released Clear Muscle this year. Touted as “The Most Powerful Muscle Builder Ever”, the supplement provided HMB Free Acid, a novel HMB variant. While HMB is an excellent ingredient and one that definitely has quite a bit of research behind it, the hype before the release wasn’t warranted. For a lot of trainers, this overhyping of new supplements is getting old and it’s fast becoming a bit of a “boy who cried wolf” situation. But it’s hard to see this trend stop anytime soon.

7. Pump Supplements

Pre workout supplements are still one of the most popular categories of supplement’s at the moment and it’s been interesting to see the changes that have occurred in the category over the years. 2014 saw a lot more pump supplements coming through as well as the use of more pump ingredients in pre workouts. Take for example Giant Sports Giant Pump, Max’s BetaPump, iForce Nutrition’s new Hemavol Max as well as Gifted Nutrition’s Beyond Pumped.

Vascularity and muscle fullness was definitely one of the most desired aspects of supplements in 2014 and this trend should continue right onto 2015. This trend has mostly been buoyed by more and more people dedicating their attention to becoming ‘aesthetic’ and ripped. While pump can be useful to enhance the results of your workouts, don’t forget to look for other ingredients in your pre workout supplements to help with the other factors that can affect your training session.

8. Paleo Supplements

The rise of the Paleo Diet has been steady over the past two years and is still continuing to grow in popularity. In addition, new diets such as the Fasting Diet (5:2) as well as the Low Carb High Fat Diet (LCHF) has been making waves throughout 2014 and will no doubt continue to do so in 2015 as well. The growth in popularity of these diets has definitely impacted the supplement industry. We’re starting to see more and more supplements that aim to cater to these diets from the influx of Beef Protein Powders to the increasing use of coconut and MCT oils in supplements. In addition, other protein sources such as Chicken Protein and Fish Protein are slowly making their way onto the market.

Carbohydrates and sugar has been demonised quite substantially in 2014 and the supplement industry is taking note with more ‘low carb’ options as well as the use of natural sweeteners such as Stevia. This strategy doubles as a way to avoid the use of artificial ingredients and sweeteners, which has been copping flak for awhile now. In 2015, get ready to see more protein powders that are going gluten free, more natural and low carb.

Predictions for the Supplement Industry 2015

So what can we expect to happen to the industry in 2015? Well, it’s always hard to foresee these things, but here are our top 5 predictions for the industry in 2015:

1. More Natural & Organic Proteins – As mentioned in our last point, there is a growing community of people who desire more natural products which are free from anything artificial including sweeteners, preservatives, flavours and colours. Expect to see more organic proteins as well in 2015.

2. The Rise of Protein Snacks – Snacking is going to be a big thing in 2015 and there will be a trend towards higher protein and healthier snacks. As such, you’re probably going to see a lot more ready to eat, high protein snacks on the market. Quest have already started leading the way with high protein chips on top of their successful protein bars.

3. Alternative Protein Sources – As whey’s price continues to increase, expect to see other cheaper sources of protein pop up. These will include vegetarian sources including soy, pea and rice as well as non vegetarian sources such as chicken, beef, fish and even insect protein. The last option though won’t appear anytime soon as the tastebuds of most consumers just aren’t ready for it.

4. Customised Supplements – As the rise in bulk supplement suppliers continues, get ready to see top brands introducing a range of single ingredient and core ingredient supplements. This will allow trainers to customise their own blends to help them achieve their individualised goals faster.

5. Back to Basics Formulas – As amino spiking continues to rock the industry, get ready to see big name company’s reformulate their protein powders and bring back basic formulations. These back to basic supplements will avoid fortification with amino acids and other ingredients, which have been the main culprit of amino spikers.

2015 is going to be a fascinating year for the world of sports, bodybuilding, fat loss and performance supplements. No matter what happens though, you can bet that we’ll be in the thick of it and relaying any news as soon as it occurs.

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