Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Growing business gnat-urally: Sports nutrition trailblazer bringing insect protein to the masses

By Nikki Cutler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Copyright: Sebastian Berndt Artur Freund
Copyright: Sebastian Berndt Artur Freund
An insect protein startup which got a big business boost at NutraIngredients Sports Nutrition Summit last year is winging its way to the mass market after gaining investment from a pharmaceutical giant.

Co-founders Charlotte Binder and Tim Dapprich, who attended the summit last September after winning a 'sports nutrition trailblazers' competition, have spun a web of achievements over the last year, not least the partnership with one of Germany's leading companies in the field of orthomolecular medicine, Orthomol GmbH.

isaac protein
Isaac Nutrition. Copyright Sebastian Berndt Artur Freund

“They came up to us last year to find out more about our company and they decided to invest in December last year,"​ Binder tells us, "which has meant we’ve been able to realise a couple of big ideas we’ve had for a long time.

“The other thing the investment has enabled us to do is to do trials with supermarkets in Germany which is quite exciting as it shows that the mass market is interested in these products.”“The packaging was one thing which we wanted to change. We had standard plastic pouch packaging and now we have paper tubes which give that feel of a much higher value for money product which people want to pick up and take home. Plus they can be refilled.

Last year, Binder told NutraIngredients​ she and Dapprich ant-icipated they shouldn't enter the insect protein bar market as they knew this was quickly becoming a very competitive market.

Binder says, despite the fact that bars are much easier to market to the masses, the powder has definitely been the right route to take.

“I’m still not aware of any other protein powder brand in Europe that’s made with insect protein, even though I keep hearing that it’s an area a lot of people are looking at.
“But there are a lot of insect protein bars on the market and there’s more competition in this space all the time.

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“Our protein powder isn’t a particularly mass market friendly format but they are seen more and more in supermarkets and retailers are very open to trying an option with insect protein which is really nice to see.”

The entrepreneurs have created a three strong range of vanilla, cocoa or coconut flavoured powder made with a mix of insect, hemp and pea protein in order to get the right mix of amino acids that best match that of whey protein powder.

They also sell an insect flour for those wanting to make healthy and high protein bakes.

The forward thinking entrepreneur says top of the agenda right now is to expand the range to include more retail-friendly formats, such as smaller packs and sachets, to encourage impulse purchase and trial.

She adds that it's important to them to let the brand evolve organically, rather than trying to expand the range too quickly and losing focus on the aim of bringing insect protein to the mass market.

Speaking about the Sports Nutrition Summit last year, Binder says the show provided a great opportunity to learn a lot about the industry in a short space of time as well as meet some of the biggest names in the industry in Europe.

“The exposure was very good for us and to just be there and be part of the show and to get insight into the industry was really helpful.

“Throughout the year I’ve been to other events and conferences and bumped into people I met at the show so it was a really great starting point for networking.”

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