The vitamin subscription company has added plant-based protein with Essential Protein, which includes three variations: Essential Protein 18+, Essential Protein Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Essential Protein 50+.
“Through our insights, we designed products to meet the different needs of specific life stages: adults 18+, pregnancy and postpartum and adults 50+. There is an increasing importance of adequate protein intake and/or physical activity as we advance in different life stages and it’s important to support those changing needs. For example, people become more resistant to the effects of protein as they age, more protein or anabolic stimulus is needed to support maintenance of muscle mass. Protein needs also increase during pregnancy and postpartum. However, both of these life stages are often overlooked,” noted Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual and Honorary Professor of Sport Science at the University of Exeter.
CEO Katarina Schneider launched Ritual in 2016, starting with multivitamins for women. She said introducing pea protein is an extension of the foundational nutrition part of Ritual.
“Years ago when I met our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Nima Alamdari, he told me we could really challenge the standards of the protein industry. He is ex-faculty at Harvard and has spent his career in sport and health sciences, nutrition, exercise training, and injury prevention. He knew we could bring our unique traceable supply chain and science-first approach to this category and create something really novel,” explained Schneider. “The result five years later is our Essential Protein - a product I could not be more proud of. Our clean, sugar-free formula is made with high-quality ingredients sourced from around the world and has a handcrafted vanilla flavor that tastes incredible. It’s the first protein of its kind sweetened with a combination of fermented sugarcane (Reb-M) and monk fruit.”
Luckily for Schneider, the demand for pea protein is only expected to go up. According to Markets and Markets, the global pea protein market is projected to grow from $745 million in 2020 to $1.4 billion by 2025, with the North American market leading the way.
Key factors driving the growth of the pea protein market include the growing vegan population and the functional benefits and allergen-friendly nature of pea protein in food and beverage products. The growth is driven by the increasing vegan population and the functional benefits and allergen-friendly nature of pea protein in food and beverage products.
Grandview Research noted that dietary supplements led the market and accounted for over 38% of the global revenue share of protein products in 2020. Increasing awareness about bone health and muscle improvement is also expected to fuel the segment growth, especially in sports nutrition products.
High quality protein source
Pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot create on its own. It is a high quality protein and rich in iron. Protein supports muscle growth, weight loss and heart health.
The quality of the protein itself is key, Alamdari said.
“High quality indicates being free of certain contaminants and banned substances but also a preferred amino acid profile. We chose pea protein primarily because of its composition, metabolic and physiological impact. Each of the plant-based products are designed to provide a complete amino acid profile as a supporter for muscle protein synthesis. The availability of amino acids is important because most plant-based proteins have a suboptimal amino acid profile or a shortage of one or more essential amino acids. A complete amino acid profile enables muscle protein synthesis, and a lack of one or more can compromise the response,” noted Alamdari. “When it came to our supplier standards, we also put quality first, which is why we chose to source organic yellow peas from PURIS, a US-based supplier that relies on responsible, regenerative and sustainable farming.”
Standing out in the crowded plant-based protein segment can be challenging. That’s why Alamdari said innovation is so important.
“We’re focused on reimagining products at the intersection of leading scientific research and traceability. With my background in muscle metabolism and physiology, this meant taking a close look at the important role that protein plays in regulating muscle protein metabolism and muscle mass and how that changes throughout different life stages.”
Schneider told NutraIngredients-USA that another way Ritual stands out is in its marketing strategy.
“It was very important to us to not only celebrate body positivity, but also to represent different life stages,” explained Schneider. “We were tired of seeing protein marketed primarily for people that lift heavy weights or do yoga daily. While that can be aspirational for some, it excludes different life stages and bodies. Protein is essential for people who are pregnant and postpartum, people over 50, for all people. We felt it was time to set a new standard for the protein industry - not just how it’s made, but who it’s for."
The Ritual CEO added that the company plans to launch more daily essential products later this year.