Even the c-store shopper, whose primary focus was once just convenience, is now looking for healthier options, said Jean Terminiello, national director of sales for immediate consumption at Glanbia Performance Nutrition.
It’s a trend that the company has observed over the last couple of years, echoed by market analysts at research firms like Mintel and Euromonitor. This week, Glanbia officially announced its intent to expand its brands’ footprints in the convenience store space by launching a product portfolio specifically for the channel.
“We’ve traditionally only had our products at GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and gyms,” she told NutraIngredients-USA at this week’s National Association of Convenience Store (NACS) show in Chicago.
The foray into convenience came from “the health and wellness trend, which is now mainstream…[yet] the consumer really wants both snacks and drinks in a grab-and-go, very convenient format.”
Tailoring for the convenience store space
Convenience store chain Speedway was the first to carry a product from this portfolio—Optimum Nutrition’s Cake Bites—in 1,200 of its stores nationwide.
With positive feedback from what Terminiello described as “fairly large convenience store retailers” at the NACS show, she said the company expects to have a substantially larger convenience store and mass retailer footprint by the end of Q4.
The portfolio, with products from Glanbia brands Optimum Nutrition, Isopure, and BSN, is composed of beverages and snacks that translate well to the convenience store format.
For example, though the Isopure brand has 3 lbs tubs of protein powder, it’s the translucent, zero carb, bottled protein waters that will be sold through the channel, as well as the Cocotein protein coconut waters.
While the RTD Isopure bottles found at gyms and specialty sports stores today are 20 oz, the company is launching a 12 oz for the convenience and mass market channels.
“It really hits on that refreshment, water trend that’s out there,” Terminiello said.
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By bringing these sports drinks out of specialty shops and into the mass market, Glanbia is diving deeper into the booming plant-based water market, estimated at $2.7 billion globally, according to food and drink consultancy Zenith Global.
And it's not just the protein products that Glanbia is betting on, an ever-growing category that has moved out of sports nutrition and matured in the mass market space a while ago. Glanbia will also be selling Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy RTD and BSN’s new Endorush energy drink, which contains the branded theacrine TeaCrine by Compound Solutions.
Not just for the sports shopper
According to Terminiello, consumers recognize the brands already, “so now it’s about telling the c-store retailers who we are.”
But the brands’ star power may shine brightest among gym-goers or long-time sports nutrition shoppers. Hence, Terminiello said that the company will also focus on turning non-sports nutrition buyers into enthusiasts of their products by producing endcaps and other in-store brand awareness material for retailers to use.
Stepping out of the sports nutrition channel means that Glanbia’s brands can now reach more blue-collar c-store shoppers with physically demanding jobs. “With 20g of protein, this could be a meal replacer,” she added.
It’s relatively new territory for Glanbia, or any sports nutrition company for that matter, and the company plans to navigate it carefully. “In the fourth quarter we’ll be investing in market research to understand dynamics in the convenience store, to understand how they shop for protein.”