It’s a new year, and you know what that means! It is now time for PricePlow’s annual Supplement Industry Awards ceremony, where we take a look at the past year and decide the coolest and most interesting supplements and brands that hit the market.
PricePlow’s 2023 Supplement Industry Awards
This year, we have quite a few awards, similar to prior years past. The list are as follows:
- Flavor System of the Year
- Functional Food of the Year
- Product of the Year
- Protein of the Year
- Brands to Watch in 2024
- Innovator of the Year
- MVP of the Year
- Rookie of the Year
- Breakout Brand of the Year
- Brand of the Year
Without further ado, let the ceremony commence! This is posted as Episode #121 on the PricePlow Podcast. Video and audio versions are below, with the details after that:
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0:00 – Introductions
Mike and Ben quickly catch up, talk shop, and get things rolling.
2:45 – Flavor System of the Year
The guys discuss their picks for the Flavor of the Year. They reminisce about the last time they talked about flavors, which was a few years ago in Austin. Mike praises a few notable flavor launches, particularly the Glaxon x PEZ collaboration for its authenticity to the PEZ flavor and GHOST’s innovative Sour Strips flavor collaboration with Maxx Chewning’s candy company.
However, Mike’s top choice for the flavor system of the year is Core Nutritionals’ Fun Sweets Cotton Candy. He appreciates how this flavor system works well in any product, specifically mentioning the cotton candy flavor from fun sweets with Core Nutritionals. Ben agrees but specifies that his favorite product is the ISO Clear Protein from Core Nutritionals, the first we’ve seen to include Arla Foods ISO.WaterShake. He highlights the technology and flavoring of this product, noting its authentic taste and his personal enjoyment.
2023 Flavor System Winner: Core Nutritionals Fun Sweets Cotton Candy.
7:00 – Functional Food of the Year
Ben and Mike also discuss the topic of functional foods, specifically focusing on brownies and chips. Ben mentions how Mike challenged him to explore functional foods, leading to his discovery of various delicious and healthy options. He gives a special mention to our good friend Greg Tetzlaff, who’s now at Legendary Foods.
A significant part of their conversation revolves around Core’s MOOSE TRACKS Protein Brownies flavor, which Ben highly praises for its combination of chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, and other inclusions. He commends Core Nutritionals for their excellent job in integrating this ice cream flavor into brownies, making every bite delicious. Mike agrees but also notes that Core’s success in flavors is somewhat due to their reliance on collaborations.
However, while Moose Tracks Protein Brownies may taste the best, we have to look at functional foods holistically. And the most unique and creative thing we saw — with the best macros — are Legendary Foods Protein Chips!
With 20 grams of protein compared to 11 grams total from carbs+fats, these leverage protein far more, giving it the lead for the year.
2023 Functional Food of the Year: Legendary Foods Protein Chips
12:30 – Product Launch and Pre-Workout of the Year
Mike and Ben discuss the Product Launch of the Year in the supplement industry, focusing on pre-workouts and functional foods. They reflect on past winners and emphasize the significance of product launches as a representation of the supplement industry to the world.
Ben highlights CBum Essential Pre-Workout as a notable product, a Walmart pre-workout praised for its quality and cost-effectiveness. Mike agrees, noting the importance of accessible and affordable pre-workouts in the current economic climate.
They also discuss the trend towards simpler, more straightforward pre-workouts. Ben mentions using CBum Essential frequently, along with other basic but effective pre-workouts like Jocko Pre-Workout. He also talks about the growing popularity of chewable supplements, like MuscleTech’s Creatine Chews and Animal Energy Chews, highlighting their potential stability advantages over gummy supplements.
Pre-Workout of the Year?
Mike shares his personal preference for Arms Race Nutrition’s Harness Evolution due to its flavor and effective ingredients. He also notes the trend towards products with fewer controversial ingredients, appealing to a broader audience.
However, with the early January 2023 release of Glaxon Specimen Genesis takes the cake for pre-workout of the year, thanks to its use of goBHB ketones making their way back into the pre-workout supplement market, which brings an added layer of clean energy that we absolutely love!
But the conversation shifts to the GHOST x Sour Strips product launch by GHOST, which Ben and Mike agree is the “Product of the Year.” They praise GHOST for maintaining high standards in collaborations and for successfully creating hype and demand for their products.
2023 Product Launch of the Year: GHOST Sour Strips.
2023 Pre-Workout of the Year: Glaxon Specimen Genesis.
28:45 – Protein of the Year
Mike and Ben discuss the protein category, focusing on flavor and quality. They agree that while the base quality of protein supplements (like whey protein isolate or WPC) is important, flavor has become a crucial differentiating factor.
Ben emphasizes that consumers now expect high-quality protein, and the focus has shifted to how good the protein tastes. He mentions GNC’s Beyond Raw Dynamic Whey with PepsiStrong and Beyond Raw Dynamic Gainer with Velositol as an interesting product, but reiterates that flavor is paramount.
Mike agrees, noting that clear isolates, like Core’s Fun Sweets Clear ISO, are examples of ‘clean’ proteins. However, he believes that the flavor is a more significant factor in choosing a protein supplement — and Fun Sweets already won an award.
They both acknowledge brands like Kaged for their Protein Isolate Elite, which targets a cleaner version of synthesis. Ben points out a trend where brands become either protein-focused or broader sports nutrition-focused. He shares that he consumed the most Primeval Labs Whey this year, particularly enjoying their flavors.
Having recorded the review of the inclusion-loaded Rocky Road flavor, Mike supports Ben’s choice, noting that Primeval Labs had a successful relaunch with great flavors. He also gives a nod to Musclesport for their improving flavors and products, particularly in isolates with Lean Whey.
Ben concludes that for consumers who are okay with lactose, he would recommend Primeval Labs, and for those who are not, he would suggest Musclesport’s or Kaged’s isolates. Despite enjoying GNC’s Dynamic Whey for its ingredients, he recognizes that its higher price might not make it suitable for all consumers.
Mike agrees with choosing Primeval Labs as the protein of the year, noting the consistency in quality and flavor in their products. They both reflect on how the landscape of protein supplements has evolved, with flavor increasingly becoming the key factor in consumer choice.
2023 Protein of the Year Winner: Primeval Labs Whey.
36:00 – Brands to Watch in 2024
In this podcast segment, Ben and Mike discuss the Brand to Watch category, focusing on supplement companies they anticipate will make significant strides in 2024. They mention several brands, each with unique reasons for being noteworthy.
As a disclaimer, we always consider major brands like Ghost and Kaged to be “brands to watch” for obvious reasons, but we’re looking for someone smaller here.
Ben starts by expressing his interest in watching Infinis, a brand that had a strong showing late in 2023. He’s keen to see consistent launches and community growth from them. Inspired Nutracueticals is also on his list, particularly for their new ready-to-drink (RTD) products like DVST8 Dark RTD and the Endless RTD, which he finds impressive.
Mike highlights the work of Landon at Inspired (see episode #096), noting the brand’s effective use of funding and their ability to match formulas with branding and attitude. He anticipates that Inspired will do something exciting in the future.
Ben then brings up Kaged, noting its significant growth and momentum in 2023. He believes this momentum will carry into 2024, especially given Kaged’s 10-year anniversary. However, Mike emphasizes the need for Kaged to continue innovating and releasing new products to maintain its trajectory.
They also discuss Ekkovision, a brand that’s often mentioned in industry conversations. Mike notes that despite some challenges, Ekkovision is a brand that people are watching closely, particularly due to its large formula sizes and unique approach.
Ben emphasizes the importance of product testing and safety, stating that brands featured in this segment must demonstrate a commitment to improving the industry’s quality and safety standards. He acknowledges that Ekkovision has made efforts to improve their product testing.
Brands to Watch for 2024: Inspired Nutraceuticals and Infinis
45:00 – Innovator of the Year
Ben and Mike discuss the Innovator of the Year category, emphasizing the importance of recognizing brands that may not have the largest sales but significantly contribute to advancing the industry through unique and thoughtful product development.
They note that while 2023 didn’t have groundbreaking ingredient innovations like previous years, it was marked by brands developing unique formulations and approaches. Specifically, they highlight AstroFlav for their innovative approach not just in product formulation but also in overall brand strategy.
Ben praises AstroFlav for consistently introducing products that offer fresh perspectives on popular categories. He admires their holistic approach to supplements, like GlucoDrive and Joint Plus, and their practical product presentations, such as greens in sachets for easy travel.
Mike agrees with Ben, acknowledging the innovative formulations by Brady, AstroFlav’s formulator. He notes that while AstroFlav didn’t introduce brand-new ingredients, they creatively used existing ingredients in unique ways, like including Puremidine in their updated AstroFlav Collagen product for added skin and hair support.
Put simply, Brady and his team at AstroFlav are doing what we expect other highly-innovative brands to do – and they deserve the credit. Even AstroFlav’s Magnesium is interesting!
Both Ben and Mike commend AstroFlav for their consistent innovation throughout 2023, not only in product development but also in marketing and brand positioning. They view AstroFlav as a holistic innovator, successfully combining impactful formulas with engaging brand strategies, making them the Innovator of the Year.
You can also listen to Brady along with AstroFlav’s founder, Brian Tweer, on PricePlow Podcast Episode #095.
Note: One innovation we failed to mention, that deserves praise, is Tecton’s Ketone Ester.
2023 Innovator of the Year: AstroFlav (and Brady Adamson)
53:00 – MVP of the Year
Ben and Mike discuss the MVP of the Year category, focusing on individuals who have made a significant impact in the sports nutrition industry.
They start by mentioning Jim Emme, the CEO of NOW Foods, who has been instrumental in highlighting issues with product purity and testing on Amazon. Emme has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring product quality and safety, emphasizing the need for FDA enforcement in the industry. Mike recounts an impactful meeting with Senator Markwayne Mullin, where Emme advocated for better enforcement of regulations, highlighting the issue with magnesium glycinate on Amazon.
Next, they discuss John West from Raw Nutrition. John is praised for his extraordinary work ethic and significant contributions to Raw Nutrition’s success. He started in a low-level position and worked his way up, playing a crucial role in the company’s growth and sales achievements.
The main focus then shifts to Aaron Heidebreicht from Kaged. They credit Aaron for his remarkable ability to revitalize and grow the Kaged brand since joining. Aaron’s expertise spans multiple channels, including specialty retail, direct-to-consumer, and mass market retail. His emphasis on education across all platforms is particularly lauded. Ben appreciates Aaron’s approach to integrating education into their marketing and sales strategy, ensuring that consumers and retailers are well-informed about their products.
Mike adds that Aaron’s networking skills and understanding of the business, product, and athlete perspectives have been key to his success. He compares Aaron’s skills and impact to other notable figures in the industry, emphasizing his unique ability to connect different sectors of the market.
Aaron was on the podcast a few times — Episode #097 is the main one where you get to hear him talk the most.
2023 MVP of the Year: Aaron Heidebreicht from Kaged.
1:07:00 – Rookie of the Year
Ben and Mike discuss the Rookie of the Year category, which focuses on brands that were launched in 2023 and achieved significant growth or made a special impact within that year.
They begin by discussing a brand called We Go Home founded by Trung Nguyen, who has a strong connection with the first responder and military communities. Ben appreciates Trung’s commitment to creating high-quality products without concern for cost, and his ability to connect and resonate with his target audience.
The second contender they mention is Infinis, a brand that launched towards the end of 2023. They are recognized for the Ultra Preworkout and made a strong impression despite their brief time in the market in 2023.
The primary focus, however, is on Fresh Supps founded by Greg Helton. Ben and Mike speak highly of Greg’s decision to start his own brand, turning down lucrative offers from other companies. Fresh Supps, under Greg’s leadership, has achieved impressive growth, reaching over 150 domestic stores and expanding into 10 countries with a range of products, including limited editions. One of the standout releases from Fresh Supps was their Fresh Pre-Workout.
Mike agrees that Fresh Supps deserves recognition as the Rookie of the Year. He admires Greg’s extensive network, effective product placement in brick-and-mortar stores, and his ability to create a brand that stands out in the crowded supplement market.
2023 Rookie of the Year: Fresh Supps.
1:13:30 – Breakout Brand of the Year
Ben and Mike discuss the Breakout Brand of the Year award, emphasizing its importance in recognizing brands that have shown significant growth or transformation within the year, regardless of their size or time in the industry.
They mention several contenders for the award, including Musclesport and MuscleTech, but ultimately focus on Kaged as the standout choice. Kaged is highlighted for its significant growth, with Ben estimating a jump from 30 to 70 million in revenue within a single year. This growth is attributed to their effective reinvention and expansion into new markets.
Ben and Mike discuss Kaged’s remarkable achievements, such as launching the Kaged Elite Series with 27 new SKUs in GNC and completely rebranding themselves by moving away from traditional athlete endorsements and embracing a younger, more dynamic image. They also note Kaged’s expansion into various retail channels, adding 120,000 new brick-and-mortar points of distribution in 2023, including partnerships with major retailers like Gold’s Gym, H-E-B, Giant Eagle, and more.
Mike shares a LinkedIn post from Aaron Heidebreicht, detailing Kaged’s impressive retail growth and expansion. They note Kaged’s strategic moves, such as flying 175,000 miles for business and adding over 40 new product skews.
2023 Breakout Brand of the Year: Kaged.
1:20:10 – Brand of the Year
Ben and Mike discuss the Brand of the Year category. Initially, they mention GHOST as a potential contender but note that GHOST did not meet their criteria for 2023, as they did not release a functional food product, which was a requirement set by Mike for GHOST to win the award again (which would have been their 4th year).
Despite GHOST’s successful year, including international expansion and scaling of their energy drink line, they discuss how 2023 was more of a year of restructuring for GHOST rather than a year of groundbreaking launches. You can listen to that in PricePlow Podcast Episode #116 with Dan Lourenço.
They then quickly discuss Musclesport and MuscleTech, acknowledging Muscle Sport’s resurgence and MuscleTech’s strong presence at various events. However, they feel these brands don’t quite capture the essence of Brand of the Year.
Ultimately, they conclude that Raw Nutrition is the deserving winner of the “Brand of the Year” award. Ben emphasizes that Raw consistently released new and exciting products throughout the year, constantly engaging their community. Here are just a few of the awesome new products that RAW brought to bear this year:
- CBum Essential
- CBum Essential Pump RTD
- BUM Energy
- CBum Thavage RTD Pre-Workout
- CBUM Thuper Thavage
- BUM Hydration
- RAW Essential Fat Burner
- RAW Signal
See our Raw Nutrition news page for the full listing.
Mike points out that Raw Nutrition’s success is due in large part to their partnership with influential figures like Chris Bumstead and their ability to combine high-quality products with effective marketing and community engagement. They discuss how Raw’s approach contrasts with previous industry partnerships with big names that did not pan out successfully.
2023 Brand of the Year: Raw Nutrition.
What a great year! Congratulations to everyone named, and good luck in 2024 – we know it’ll be a wild one, at least if Merica Labz‘ first launch (Orange Man Bad) is any indication.
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