Plant protein startup rides simplification message

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Plant protein startup rides simplification message

Related tags Nutrition

Plant protein startup Oriya is riding a message of a short ingredient list toward greater national distribution.

The company has taken the clean label concept a step further in its certified organic powdered plant protein products. The company advertises a “Just 5” positioning to tout that fact that its product is built on only five ingredients: organic sprouted rice protein, organic hemp seed protein, organic sprouted chia seeds, organic spirulina, and organic chlorella. The last two the company refers to as “nutritionally dense greens.”

The company claims to be one of the best selling plant-based protein products in Whole Foods’ Rocky Mountain region, the initial distribution footprint of the company. Co-founder Jonathan Larson said that success has helped garner additional distribution via Amazon and in 75 HEB stores in Texas. Larson said the brand’s initial concept was based what’s clean and what’s easily absorbed.

“I was a trainer and my brother was a professional MMA athlete. That was about six or seven years ago and we were looking for protein that was very easy for him to digest and we hit upon the sprouted rice protein,”​ Larson told NutraIngredients-USA.   

No add ons, just nutrition

Larson said the products he found on the shelf when researching nutrition for his brother led him to believe there was a better way.  He saw that many consumers were mixing protein powders into smoothies with other ingredients such as fresh fruit, so the sweeteners and flavor components of the competing protein products were an unnecessary complication. He said through his sampling experience that the message of doing away with these other components and devoting that cost toward sourcing the highest quality nutritional components has resonated with consumers.  In addition to eschewing flavors and sweeteners, the company has no excipients such as xanthan gums or flow agents.

Oraiya has been pursuing an in-store sampling program to build buzz about its brand.

“Most companies are putting stevia or flavors into their products. I prefer the neutral, earthy taste of the plant protein,”​ he said.

The products, though they are USDA certified organic, also carry the Non GMO Project Verified seal.  Larson said that while an organic certification implies the product contains no GMOs, few consumers and—surprisingly—a fair number of store employees are unaware of that distinction. 

“You see a lot of people looking for non GMO products. But paleo, gluten free, soy free, dairy free—I think those are all important attributes,”​ he said.

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