In the crowded plant protein space, newcomer OWYN finds niche to fill

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

RTD plant protein brand OWYN expands with launch of powders, bars
Plant protein products, from bars to beverages to powders, are becoming more ubiquitous than ever. Newcomer brand Only What You Need (or OWYN) found a void it can still fill—it had to do with packaging and branding.

“Playing with the design…you have brands in the specialty channel, even trickling into mainstream, that are predominantly very masculine, very bold, very explosive like Muscle Milk or Core Power,” ​Mark Olivieri, SVP of Marketing at OWYN​, told NutraIngredients-USA.

“From our position, those brands are super polarizing, very masculine, and do not do a good job marketing to all users within the category, all users who are interested in protein. From our research we know it’s not just males who want protein, it’s also female-driven.”

On the opposite end, he added, there are plant based protein products that lack the ‘lifestyle’ factor. “They look very white-label, they don’t look like an accessory item, and the Millennial consumer in this market today, they do care about brands,” ​he added.

“We wanted to design a brand that fits in the middle—something that’s not polarizing and feel like it’s only for those who want to bulk up, or not look too clinical that it looks like a doctor would prescribe it.”

Acquired by Halen Brands pre-revenue

The brand was founded by a husband and wife duo, both former professional athletes: Jeff Mroz, captain and quarterback for Yale’s football team before signing with the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, and Kathryn Moos, who played soccer and hockey at Brown before playing professional soccer in Europe.

It was acquired pre-revenue last year by Halen Brands. “My partner Leigh Feuerstein and I really wanted to get into this plant-based protein space, or some type of plant beverage,”​ said Halen Brands founder and co-CEO Jason Cohen.

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“Walking the stores and looking at what was available, a lot of the products were expensive, and when we brought them home our kids wouldn’t ingest them, they thought they were ‘disgusting.’”

“In order for us to enter the market, we needed to find something that was really good. [Mroz and Moos] approached us with a formula and a name…My kids thought the chocolate was a generic chocolate milk, which blew me away.”

The RTD beverages line plays into the ‘clean label’ trend, being free of the top eight allergens. It contains 20 g of complete plant protein and no sugar alcohols, Cohen added.

Today, OWYN is on a number of Whole Foods shelves and Vitamin Shoppe. It’s going into several gyms and Shoprite. “It’s just got an unbelievable response to the quality and packaging,” ​Cohen said.

At the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, CA, this year, OWYN launched a line of protein bars and protein powders.

Adding bars and powders to create a ‘lifestyle’ brand

At the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, CA, earlier this month, OWYN launched protein bars and protein powders.

“What we’re trying to do is go after a complete lifestyle of wellness, and we have data and we went to consumers. What we learned was that two-thirds of RTD users also consumed powders,” ​Olivieri said.

“So it became a natural direction for us. We said ‘We need to have a powder,’ consumers who use these products on a routine basis look for a powder, and from a serving standpoint and other functional benefits you have with a powder—such as probiotics—just became easier for us.”

In the drinks and powder, pea, organic pumpkin seed, and organic flaxseed offer an essential amino blend as well as omega-3 equivalent to half of daily needs, Olivieri explained. For the bars, the number one ingredient is pumpkin seed, followed by pea and chia.


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