Glanbia Performance Nutrition Taking on the big boys

With more than ten years’ experience in the sports nutrition industry, Chris Terry is leading Glanbia Performance Nutrition’s rollout of high protein snacking designed for C-stores and independent retailers. Leveraging the World’s largest sports nutrition brand portfolio, the easy-to-shop range offers consumers choice and value while driving profits for retailers.

Chris, Retail Director UK at Glanbia Performance Nutrition spoke to Wholesale Manager.

How was 2019 for Glanbia Performance Nutrition?

2019 was a big year for Glanbia Peformance Nutrition and for our lead brand Optimum Nutrition in particular. Our biggest achievement was to successfully leverage our 30 years of sports nutrition experience to create a range of credible high protein snack formats specifically designed for the convenience and forecourt channel. We are extremely proud of our multi-format range and our Optimum Nutrition snacks which were a key part of England Rugby’s journey in Japan last year and recently won Product of the Year 2020 for our Optimum Bar in the Health and Nutrition category.

You’re up against some big competitors in high protein snacking, with huge brands and budgets. What’s your secret?

We are ready and coming after them. Optimum Nutrition is infact the biggest sports nutrition brand in the World. We have fuelled over 2 Billion workout recoveries globally making our protein powder Gold Standard 100% Whey the most reviewed, awarded and best selling protein in the world.

Glanbia Performance Nutrition comes to wholesale with a wealth of experience and insight into protein consumption and a portfolio of brands that allows us offer an easy-to-shop multi format range at tiered prices.

With 30 years of trust and brand equity in our Optimun Nutrition brand and a very compelling value offering through our BSN brand, our range stands apart from those offering just more flavours of the same chewy protein bar experience. We have designed a range of three different formats and textures with shelf ready cases and pricemarked packs that will give the retailer and their customers confidence in the value they are getting. We are already taking share from existing protein bar buyers who are tired of the traditional protein bar experience and we are bringing new consumers into protein snacking with our different formats and clear value.

When was Glanbia founded?

Glanbia means “clean food” in the Irish language and we have very strong heritage in the green dairy farms of Ireland dating back to the 1960s.

It’s an amazing story of how a number of small dairy co-operatives have grown to become a Global nutrition company selling dairy products around the world. Glanbia Performance Nutrition operates the world’s largest portfolio of sports and active nutrition brands including Optimum Nutrition which has been setting the standards for sports and performance nutrition for more than 30 years. We are now taking that heritage and trust built up in gyms and offering it to consumers through their local independent store.

How big is Glanbia Performamce Nutrition as a company now in turnover and staff numbers? Do you personally go out to see wholesalers and independent retailers?

Globally our performance and active nutrition business has a $1 Billion turnover and here in the UK we have been a significant player in speciality, gyms and multiples for over 10 years.

We launched our new protein snacking range late last year and I’ve spent the last six months working closely with the wholesalers such as the Unitas Group to tailor the offering to meet the distinct needs of wholesalers and their retail customers. That time has been invaluable and we launched the UK’s first and only pricemarked protein bar range with shelf ready packaging and case sizes specifically designed for wholesale. We now have a team of reps who go out to the depots to support launch and promo initiatives and are busy out in the Independent trade helping retailers maximise the opportunity that has been missed to date. Simple merchandising tips are going a long way for retailers and helping them trade consumers up from chocolate confectionery to higher margin protein snacking.

How do you work with retailers and wholesalers to help them make the most of the Glanbia opportunity?

Glanbia Performance Nutrition is uniquely positioned to help wholesalers grow this emerging high margin category. Our recent partnership with Unitas is a great example as they quickly saw the opportunity to lead in this space.

We will be working with them as the first Category Champion for this emerging space and are providing insights and merchandising tips through the Plan for Profit platform. Our reps are visiting their depots to support launches and promotions and to share tips with retailers. We are also out visting stores with particular focus on greater London showing retailers how to merchanise protein snacking at the front of store, beside or within confectionery and therefore helping the shopper make a better choice and in turn trade them up to high margin snacks.

We have already shown phenomenal results through Dhamecha Cash and Carry following the launch of our pricemarked protein snack range with very strong repeat purchase from retailers.

Tell us about the UK market for protein snacks. Who are the primary consumers? Are they all sports people and bodybuilders? Do ‘mainstream’ consumers also buy them? What’s the age/gender profile?

We can all see it – everyone is now more conscious of being active and making healthier choices. Recent research shows that 20 million adults in the UK have eaten a healthy snack in the past week and that over 60% are seeking out products with added protein. Protein snacking grew by more than 40% last year. So yes many mainstream consumers, male and female, are reaching for protein snacks in big numbers, but wholesalers and retailers are missing out on the full potential of the category. Our research into the motivations behind healthy snacking found that they vary from looking for a protein callout, to wanting something sweet without the guilt, to a quick boost of energy while on the go. Wholesalers who stock more flavours of the same bar won’t meet these differing needs. By offering a choice of formats at tiered prices, wholesalers and their retailers can broaden the appeal and sales of these options as more and more consumers seek healthier choices and drive additional incremental revenue.

What products and pack sizes are in the current Glanbia range? Which ones are the ‘core’ must stock lines for wholesalers and independent retailers?

We have developed a five format range which is designed to grow the appeal of the category meeting more consumer needs at tiered value prices.

Our unique range includes the high protein ultra-soft Optimum Bar (62g) enrobed in Dark Belgian chocolate, as well as the uniquely crunchy Protein Crisp Bar (62g), both offering great value at £2.29 marked on packs. Leveraging our portfolio we also offer a great tasting option for those looking for a lighter protein boost with the Nutra-Go Low Sugar Protein Wafer (£1.79/42g) from Nutramino. And finally with price a clear barrier for many – our range includes the deliciously soft BSN Protein Bar (£1.49/60g) and the BSN Protein Flapjack (£1.29/60g) providing great value at an attractive price points. Of the five we recommend wholesalers start with our three pricemarked bars in the BSN Protein Bar £1.49 and two from Optimum Nutrition marked at £2.29. This mini range is the UK’s only pricemarked protein snack offering and will immediately offer choice and value to drive higher margin sales for wholesalers and their customers.

What channels do your products sell in?

As the World’s no.1 sports nutrition brand, Optimum Nutrition’s protein powders and snacking range perform very well in gyms, sports clubs, health speciality and increasingly online. As we rollout in convenience and independents, the feedback is that many retailers are surprised how well our brand is known by their active consumers. These consumers never previously had the opportunity to grab an Optimum Nutrition protein snack, a brand they know and trust, in their local store, on the way to the gym or while on the go. And with the price clearly marked on pack they can be confident they are getting value.

What percent of Glanbia supply is through wholesalers?

We are at the early stages of this rollout but based on our intial results we feel there is a major opportunity for wholesalers to build out their protein snack category and that Glanbia Performance Nutrition is the partner to make this happen. Healthy snacking is growing at 40% per year and many wholesalers are missing out on maximising category.

What is your guidance to wholesalers to make the most of the Glanbia Performance Nutrition opportunity?

Wholesalers and their retail customers can make significant gains by guiding the consumers who come instore to make better snack choices and in turn trade them up to higher margin purchases. Consumers want to make healthier choices yet many of the traditional confectionery snacking staples in wholesalers have not evolved to meet consumers changing needs. Retailers, with the support of their wholesalers, have the opportunity to guide the shopper to help them make better choices. Offer them a range of protein snack formats and prioritise format and texture options over flavour extentions. Many wholesalers are missing out on significant additional revenue by not offering different formats. Wholesalers can also remove confusion around pricing for protein bars. Choose pricemarked products at tiered prices including clear value entry level options sunch as our BSN Protein Bar at £1.49. And finally help your retailers by sharing some simple tips to drive sales. Simple steps like merchandising and clearly signposting “Healthy / Protein Snacks” at the front of store beside or within the confectionery section will immediately help the consumer with their choice and increase profit through higher margin products.

What kinds of promotions do you run?

Our experience in a few short months is that where retailers stock our three bar formats from our pricemarked range, consumers will try them and come back again. Therefore our wholesale promotions are focused on getting at least one case of each of our three bar formats (Optimum Bar £2.29, Protein Crisp Bar £2.29 and BSN Protein Bar £1.49) into as many stores as possible. We do a range of depot deals to drive trial as we know the repurchase will follow.

Each shelf ready case contains 10 bars each which works as one to two weeks of stock for many independent retailers and fits with their cash flow.

Do you offer merchandising advice online to retailers and wholesalers?

With 30 years of leadership in sports nutrition and the world’s no.1 sports nutrition brand in our portfolio, Glanbia Performance Nutrition is uniquely positioned to drive this category further in partnership with wholesalers. We have a wealth of consumer insights and merchandising resources available which will be live on the Plan for Profit website very soon.

What new products are you planning to launch this year? What consumer advertising and promotion are you planning? What about sampling and social media?

Our immediate focus is on the rollout of what is the UK’s first pricemarked protein bar range and we have huge headroom with that opportunity. We are also investing heavily with a £2Million campaign showcasing the role Optimum Nutrition plays fuelling England Rugby’s performance and recovery with a powerful campaign coinciding with the Six Nations tournament, across digital platforms. Search “Recover like England Rugby” to watch our latest campaign video featuring Henry Slade and Emily Scarratt which has already been watched by over 6 million consumers.

Finally, where do you see Glanbia Performance Nutrition as a business and Protein Snacking as a category going from here?

There is a significant opportunity for wholesalers to build out very profitable healthy snacking categories with protein snacks being a key driver. It’s time to think beyond more flavour extensions on the same old bars and build out a multi format range that will bring more consumers into the category and drive more sales and profits for retailers and wholesalers. We expect to be working as Category Champion with many wholesalers for this emerging space and will be providing insights and merchandising tips online and in trade.

Glanbia Performance Nutrition is the established leader in the sports nutrition in our traditional channels and our ambition is to bring that experience to wholesale. Get in touch and let us help you grow the category.