Pyatt returns with plant based line planned to launch with GNC

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - CandyRetriever
©Getty Images - CandyRetriever

Related tags Protein plant based Sports nutrition products Sports nutrition sector

Sports nutrition veteran Brad Pyatt is launching a new company focused on plant-based nutrition. The first brick and mortar retail partner will be GNC, which itself is emerging from a bankruptcy sale to Chinese company Harbin.

The new company, called PlantFuel, announced this week that it has an agreement to launch five new products in GNC locations starting in August 2021.  The new company’s formulation strategy relies on branded ingredients from well established suppliers.

“The idea behind this was to have a sports nutrition product line that was plant based but that would still attract a hard core sports nutrition consumer,”​ Pyatt told NutraIngredients-USA.

Catching GNC on the rebound

pyatt mugshot
Brad Pyatt

Pyatt said having GNC as a partner comes at a propitious time for both companies.  A number of GNC’s product supply relationships were unwound as part of the bankruptcy process.

“GNC has limited brands right now and we are going to be one of the key brands they pushing,”​ he said.

PlantFuel's commitment to create clinically proven plant-based nutrition that doesn't compromise on performance and taste, while also utilizing eco-conscious packaging, is something that is increasingly relevant and important to consumers today,” ​said GNC CEO Josh Burris. 

In recent years many new sports nutrition brands have chosen to launch exclusively online.  Pyatt said that while the company will also have a strong presence on Amazon, he believes playing in both channels is the best recipe for success.

“When you are online you actually need a brick and mortar presence to get the best sales.  I think it’s important to have both. A lot of brands think that’s dilutive but it all comes down to brand strategy and pricing,”​ Pyatt said.

Getting help on ingredient choices

Pyatt said he started to investigate what a plant based sports nutrition line might look like a number of years ago. As he put together the funding for his new venture he approached Dr Hector MD, The Center for Applied Health Sciences, a contract research organization, for formulation advice.

“He had me give him an opinion on various ingredients, the features, the tradeoffs and the benefits,” ​Dr Lopez said.

“I’m agnostic about whether and why someone would want to follow a plant-based diet.  But for whatever reason they’ve chosen that path, we wanted to provide the best possible alternatives for them with regard to performance nutrition,” ​he said.

plant fuel products

The five new products feature two protein products, a pre workout blend, a recovery product and an immunity and hydration drink mix. The branded ingredients featured in the new products come from suppliers such as Compound Solutions, Kerry, Prinova and VDF Futureceuticals.  

While many of these ingredients come with scientific backing of their own, Dr Lopez said the future plan will include conducting studies on the finished formulations.  Dr Lopez also said another company he’s associated with, Supplement Safety Solutions, will provide adverse event reporting services to the new company.

Learning from MusclePharm mistakes

Pyatt is of course best known for being one of the founders of MusclePharm, which grew spectacularly and crashed to earth in spectacular fashion as well.  Pyatt stepped down as CEO and had to pay a hefty fine as a result of a case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged financial improprieties.

“We had a lot of success at MusclePharm and some growing pains as well.  What I learned at MusclePharm was that we grew too fast and it caused a lot of friction with our brand partners,” ​Pyatt said.

“I was a first-time entrepreneur and wasn’t well funded.  I’ve got more than 15 years of experience in the field now and I’ve learned a lot,”​ he added.

“I knew Brad from back in the MusclePharm days. I think the team there at MusclePharm did a lot of things very well but they made some mistakes along the way and maybe they lacked a little discipline.  I think he has taken that experience and has grown from it,”​ Dr Lopez said.

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