Protein’s mainstream popularity is showing no sign of declining in the near future, and protein powder manufacturers are starting to market them to a broader audience, beyond the athletes and bodybuilders once regarded as the poster children of protein powder users.
“We believe protein isn’t just for sports people, but also for families—children and older people,” Bridget Coates, the founder and director of protein powder company Kura, told NutraIngredients-USA. ”Fourteen grams of protein, that’s typically more common with a sports nutrition product. So we wanted to bring [that] to the family, to the breakfast table.”
Kura is the first, and as of now the only, product of Auckland-based WhiteCloud Dairy Innovation. The brand Kura itself is based in California and produced in Arizona, which launched in early 2015, initially selling in Sprouts Farmers Market locations, select Whole Foods, and on Amazon.com. As the year progressed, the product became available in more mainstream and traditional channels, such as The Vitamin Shoppe, which started stocking Kura in 700 of its stores this month.
Standing out in the crowd
With the abundance of protein products on the market, Coates said that the Kiwi quality of milk is what makes Kura stand out. “We rely on high quality New Zealand whey protein, which has a number of advantages,” said Coates, who hails from New Zealand. “New Zealand has a heritage of grass-fed dairy, [which is] different nutritionally to grain-fed dairy. Secondly, we’re very proud of the way our animals are treated in New Zealand,” Coates said, adding that New Zealand has laws that protect animals from mistreatment.
Social media also plays an integral role in promoting the smoothie powder. “We spend a lot of time on recipes for smoothie bowls [and] combinations of flavors. We have a team of nutritionists who work with us in creating ideas and fun events,” Coates said. A supplement to Kura’s main product website is The Blender, a collection of blog-like content with recipes, wellness articles, and fitness tips.
Positive feedback from consumers
According to Coates, a serving of Kura smoothie contains more than just protein—it also has antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The website lists beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, selenium, and omega-3, among other things.
Flavor-wise, multiple taste-testing and samplings in stores have proven that consumers find the product palatable. “Once people try our product, they tend to be enthusiastic about its clean taste and it’s mixability, it doesn’t taste like protein often does, chalky and gritty and clogging up your mouth,” Coates said. “It’s a smooth, clean, very fine-tasting product.”
They’ve grown very rapidly from the beginning of last year, Coates said, and she expects continued rapid growth based on the accounts already secured. “We’ve been in a much wider range of retailers than what one might have expected initially” Coates said. “And I think that is driven by strong consumer interest and great tasting protein sources that they can incorporate easily into their lives.”