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Champion joins ranks of full spectrum sports nutrition providers

By Hank Schultz , 04-Jan-2013

Another player has entered the arena of companies offering full-spectrum sports nutrition lines with the launch of Champion Nutrition’s new “ambition based” line of powdered protein products and supporting supplements.

“Champion has been around for about 30 years and they were really primarily body builder focused and performance focused,” Forrest Haag, brand manager for Champion, told NutraIngrdients-USA.

“They had done some research and realized they needed solutions for everybody and not just body builders.”

Champion’s new line is based on four different protein formulations, dubbed Fit, Endurance, Strength and Sport, each with different types of protein based on the application.  With the new launches, Champion joins other sports nutrition players who have recently lintroduced integrated product lines such as Douglas Labs and Thorne Research.

“The beauty of this line is we are ambition focused.  It’s all about where you want to go,” Haag said. “It’s really focused on everybody and on the everyday athlete. Do you want to go further, do you want to lift more?”

Plant based proteins

A key facet of the line is the different suit of proteins in each product.  While the old workout standby–whey protein isolate–forms a key component of two of the lines, proteins from pea, brown rice and potato are also employed, and two of the lines are entirely plant based.

Champion saw an opportunity to tap into an underserved market made up of the 7.5 million vegetarians in the US, 1.8 million of whom are vegans.  But, Haag said, the trend toward plant-derived ingredients extends beyond that market base.

“If you go to Whole Foods and you look at the protein aisle you are going to see 80-85% whey, 10% soy and the rest is ‘other.’  And that other is where the market is going to all that ‘other,’ all the plant-based ingredients.” he said.

The different protein combinations are intended to provide the best peformance for each application, Haag said.  The Fit line, aimed at providing daily protein supplementation for overall health, features brown rice and pea protein.  The Endurance line adds potato protein to those two, while the Sport and Stength lines are based on whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate with pea and potato.

There was a formulation rationale based on the evidence of how those various proteins perform in the body, Haag said.  As of now, the company does not have human clinical trials based on the finished formulations, but those are in the planning stages, he said.

Supporting supplements

In addition to the protein powders, Champion also offers a line of supplements intended to support everyday athletes.  The Focus product features omega-3s from fish oil and is intended to support mental acuity. The Invigorate product is a hydration beverage that features Kyowa Hakko’s Sustamine dipeptide form of L-glutamine.  And the company also features vitamins with a sports performance positioning.

Champion does its own manufacturing in the 135,000-square-foot GMP-compliant plant of its parent company, Sunrise, FL-based Nature’s Products Incorporated, which has a long history of contract manufacturing and formulation expertise, Haag said.

The new product line follows the lead of Champion’s earlier protein powders in being offered for sale exclusively on the Internet, Haag said.  But he said Champion has hired a sales manager whose job will include getting the line into retail distribution in outlets such as Whole Foods.

And to kick off the new line, the company is sponsoring a contest for consumers to describe their dream fitness goals.  One winner will be offered a trip package to participate in their event, such as a triathlon, while other prizes include a gym membership and a year's supply of products.

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