The niche strategy has been confirmed with the European arm of US-based sports brand, PowerBar, launching a PeptoPro-inside, sports powder called ISOMAX that is aimed at “serious endurance athletes”.
The European ISOMAX launch includes Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy and adds to about 100 products PeptoPro is present in, mostly in the US, Europe, Japan, South Africa, Australia and Brazil.
PeptoPro began life with Dutch Olympic team members extolling its muscle recovery virtues at the 2004 Athens Olympiad, but DSM always sought a broader Gatorade-style sports beverage market, a strategy that never took off, forcing a serious identity rethink.
Eventually Swiss-based DNP regrouped around the serious athletes that could derive the greatest benefit from the dairy protein-based, “instant delivery” amino acid formulation and PeptoPro has dwelt in that niche for the past few years, a dedication to cause that has won it grass roots approval with many positive references on gym user chat boards.
Window of opportunity
ISOMAX also contains five electrolytes, caffeine and C2MAX – a proprietary carbohydrate blend designed to boost energy delivery.
DSM is promoting the technical aspects of PeptoPro’s bioavailability, noting recovery benefits are greatest in the immediate moments after exercise, a “window of opportunity” when the musculature is most receptive to nutrient input.
“We continue to leverage our scientific knowledge to help manufacturers formulate innovative nutritional solutions for this competitive industry,” said Jacob Bauly, market development manager in Europe, Africa and the Middle East at DNP Europe.
Christian Kaufmann, Brand Management chief at PowerBar Europe, GmbH, added: “We are extremely confident that ISOMAX will enjoy buoyant consumer demand as well as positive reviews in the specialised media.”
DNP’s decision to ditch the mainstream in favour of “gym warriors” and “sports enthusiasts” like cyclists and runners has delivered 40-50 per cent annual growth, the company told NutraIngredients last year.
About 95 per cent of its sales are derived from the powdered protein market compared to five per cent for ready to drink products that had been an initial point of focus.
The product is available in about 35 countries.
Of the niche switch, PeptoPro global business manager Wouter Nieboer said at the time: “What we came to realise is this is suitable for the high-end protein market because of its functionality and price.So we are after that rung of people that lies below elite sports people – the sports enthusiasts like gym warriors and regular tennis players, mountain climbers and mountain bikers – they are the ones that have been reporting the benefits of PeptoPro on these websites and that is why the products are selling without us doing that much marketing-wise.”
Matters of taste
While the chat board feedback has been positive efficacy-wise, it has also highlighted a problem for the brand – taste. Reading the feedback on a website like www.MyProtein.co.uk it becomes clear many users like what the product does but not how it tastes.
The reaction was so strong that MyProtein took it upon itself to make a berry variety of its branded version of PeptoPro to ease the palatability concerns. Dutch company XXLNutrition formulated a tropical blend to achieve the same result and DSM has developed its own berry formula.
Nieboer said formulation work had meant, “taste has been improved dramatically on application level.”
“However, peptides will always have typical bitterness, especially if the degree of hydrolysis is as high as in PeptoPro,” he said, noting flavour blending as the best means to overcome the issue.
PeptoPro powder is a formulation of di and tri-peptides - a casein hydrolysate. It works by promoting the transport of sugars into muscle tissue and stimulates the synthesis of muscle protein after heavy exercise.
The company said a casein hydrolysate-physical performance health claim had been ruled on but not yet published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).