Specifically, for its FitPro Go! product, the company uses California-sourced milk that’s been certified Real, a certification administered by the National Milk Producers Federation. On FitPro’s website, the makers promise that its protein beverage contains dairy that came from a “cow to bottle in seven days.”
“It all comes down to flavor,” Mike Zumpano, COO of FitPro, told NutraIngredients-USA. The protein drink comes in four classic flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. Each contain 35g of protein per 14 fl oz bottle, and 9g of sugar.
Its sweet flavor also comes from two non-caloric sweeteners, such as Stevia (Reb A) and monk fruit.
Reformulation to appeal to ‘youth nutrition’
The product was originally launched in tetra packaging back in 2012 by power lifter Brad Kloss, who grew up on a dairy farm.
While still working closely with the brand, Kloss passed on company governance to a team of executives, such as Zumpano, who are well acquainted with sports nutrition, fitness, and the food and beverage market.
Under new administration, the FitPro product was reformulated—packaged in bottles instead of tetra-shaped cartons, and ultra-filtered to reduce lactose level. Additionally, the hydrocolloid carrageenan, used to thicken the drink, was removed. The goal was to attract clean-label shoppers such as parents.
“We wanted something that moms would feel comfortable giving their kids for team sports,” Zumpano said. He added that the company is looking at the possibility of creating a line with packaging specifically targeted for the youth market.
From niche to mass and convenience
FitPro is now sold mostly in gyms and specialty stores, from Nutrishop to LifeTime Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness. In Northern California, the product is sold in 40 select 7-Eleven stores as a trial.
“That test is doing very well, we’re outselling the competition by quite a margin,” Zumpano said, citing data that several of these 7-Eleven shared with FitPro.
The company has now started preliminary discussions with big box and drug stores, as there is interest coming from the channel. “We were mainly interested in going down the specialty route, but we were kind of pulled in to food, drug, and mass,” Zumpano said.
However, FitPro’s executive members are still strategizing on the best way to enter the mass channel, making sure that they can fulfill demand in time or place the product in the appropriate shelves.
“We expect that mid-2018, because of the resests that the stores are having in April or May, you’ll see our distribution really expand.”