In this the first topic of what I intend to be a insiders guide to the supplement / performance supplement industry I will provide no holds barred information from behind the scenes.
I want to openly state that I am NOT positioning my topics or positions with a pre set bias. I want to also state I have no intention of pulling punches on expressing my feelings. We have enough of that in the world today and the last think I wish to do is add another blog and podcast to line pile of worthless fodder available. Instead I will speak freely and when I feel necessary be very forward in my harshness.
I have (1) objective – Provide information that will benefit the end reader. period.
With that in mind here we go,
My first topic Uncoated will attempt to de mystify the protein bar category. I will break this into (4)installments and wrap up the series with a podcast and reveal of “whats next”.
So where to start. Ok, I Hate Protein bars. I always have and thats why I am the most unlikely person to of become so deeply involved and ultimately immersed in the subject.
To properly analyze the current landscape of this booming category I would first like to reflect back a bit. In the 1980s and 1990s Protein bars were considered a candy alternative and really nothing that dynamically made a impact. The players were brands such as Powerbar, PR Ironman, Tigers Milk, Balance to name a few of the more popular brands. The common theme was “convenience” in a pinch. I avoided these products like the plague.
In the Late 1990s and early 2000s came the dawn of more targeted nutrition bars geared towards high Protein, and lower carbohydrates and sales exploded with Atkins, Detour, Supreme Protein bar , Pure Protein and many new comers boasting next generation specs and decadent taste profiles. Unfortunately all at a cost, Dirty ingredients, hydrogenated oils, Sugar alcohols (in excess) , cheap denatured proteins and very lengthy ingredient panels. Truthfully sales did explode which gave a hint to the possible future.
The dilemma of the 2000s was simple a choice
- Organic , natural ingredients however loaded with sugar and inferior protein ( If any added at all)
- Performance Macro profiles as a cost of junk processed ingredients, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, just not a feel good scenario.
So the category grew despite the lackluster offerings.
The need for portable, convenience drove many to buy. I myself even would consume the occasional EAS Myoplex Deluxe bar ( Chocolate Peanut butter which honestly tasted good and featured quality protein blend ( best of the time) but also so much sugar my teeth would hurt.
Rather than go down the rabbit hole and do a historical article which honestly serves no purpose other than to make illustration of my years in this game I will fast forward to what is significant.
It was 2010 and I was hearing constant mention of a passionate group of industry “Outsiders” , a new brand and STORY. The STORY was giving us all the product we wanted but did not think we could have. The brand was Quest Nutrition and the product the Quest Protein bar. I stumbled onto my first Quest bar in my travels in northern New Jersey and still remember like it was yesterday. The flavor was Peanut Butter supreme, I remember flipping the label and seeing the great macros, the remarkable tag line “They said it couldn’t be done” brilliant! The taste – clean, tasty, and then the ingredient panel – short- the only negative was the addition of sucrolose ( a artificial sweetener I and many avoid ).
What happens next, I became part of the Quest early brand direction team. I was extremely proud and passionate about launching and building the narrative to the natural products consumer through our all natural initiative.
I will openly state that the time I spend with Quest and the relationships I forged are priceless to me. However in 2014 I made the difficult decision to move on. I simply believed then as I believe now that Remarkable doesn’t scale to Ubiquity. Mass is not special.
So here I am. As I write this I am aware that my involvement means I absolutely am not without bias. I also realize that I understand this space very well and will simply do my best to direct you the potential consumer towards making your best choice.
In todays marketplace there is a very uninspiring theme of creating a commoditized knock off, dress it up, fund it and hope to pull some marketshare. These are simply JUNK offerings and I will dig into details in part II.
I will not name names. I will instead give my buyers guide that will hopefully help with making the best decision.
I will expose the things to look for- good and bad.
In part III I will call out some small and remarkable brands/stories and why they are so special.
and Finally In Part IV Ill talk about whats next, what we need and sum it all in my T2 Experiment podcast.
Please feel free to ask me to include anything you wish answered also