Ryan Bucki, founder of Fit Butters and Fitness Informant, jumps on PricePlow to talk Fit Butters explosive growth, and what will happen to FI next.
Many of our followers are also longtime followers of Ryan’s, who, as a performing wrestler, serves as an incredible “Hype Man” in the sports nutrition industry. With his popular one-sip flavor reviews and long-running podcast, Ryan keeps the energy fun and high in the active nutrition and bodybuilding corners of the industry.
But in 2020, things began to change for Ryan, and he and his wife looked for alternate income sources. This is when they launched Fit Butters, a nut butter company that includes delicious protein powders to provide special flavoring to the butters, while adding inclusions to the top that the user can mix in.
It all leads to an incredible nut butter experience, and their success has taken the company to new heights, with Ryan getting into some major grocery chains. Ryan tells us about this success — and what the major time commitments mean for the future of Fitness Informant.
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Show Notes with Ryan Bucki: Fit Butters Crushes All Nut Butters, But What of Fitness Informant?
0:00 – Kick off and Introductions
This week’s guest is Ryan Bucki from Fitness Informant and Fit Butters. The recording begins mid-discussion with no formal introduction, and Mike and Ben mention how they prefer to have natural, unscripted conversations with their guests, including researchers who they bring on to discuss hot topics.
3:30 – “Competitors” and different podcast platforms
The speakers are discussing their respective platforms and their differences. Ryan praises PricePlow for its scientific bent, and routinely encourages brands to use the platform. He also talks about how he uses PricePlow to learn about regulatory issues, something PricePlow has taken a leading role in recently, such as in the battle for NMN. Mike and Ben express gratitude for the compliments and discuss how their platform differs from Ryan’s, with PricePlow being more research-focused and Ryan’s being more entertainment-focused.
7:00 – Friendly disagreements.
Ryan and the PricePlow crew do have some disagreements, like about flavors. When it comes down to scientific stuff, like peptides, Ryan doesn’t take as much of a focus on the hardcore research that PricePlow focuses on. They also briefly discuss the marketing campaign for Inspired Nutraceuticals’ FSU Serum and the use of glycerol.
11:45 – 2020’s impact on FI and the genesis of Fit Butters
Ryan explains that the mess in 2020 led to gyms closing and a dip in the consumption of dietary supplements, which caused cash flow issues for content creators in the fitness industry. As a result, Ryan began creating healthy recipe content to provide value to brands outside of traditional supplements. He started experimenting with making nut butters, which eventually led to the creation of Fit Butters.
Ryan, who has a background in food marketing, always wanted to create a physical product and saw an opportunity with Fit Butters to offer a healthier version of a traditional food item.
15:30 – Starting a Nut Butter business.
Ryan shares the story of how he created his nut butter business. He trademarked the name and taught himself Adobe Illustrator in 6 hours to design the labels. He bought protein powders from different brands and paid for the LED and labels. Even though the serving macros are no different from other nut butters, the purpose of adding whey protein isolate and plant-based protein to peanut butter is to make it a more complete protein source and flavor it well.
Ryan explains how they moved all of their machinery to a GMP, FDA-approved facility and now they are installing a fully automated manufacturing line that will allow them to produce up to 15 to 16,000 jars per day. Ryan is emotional about the sacrifices and hard work he and his family have made but thinks it has been worth it.
26:00 – Retail marketing for FitButters.
Mike asks Ryan about greater marketing plans for Fit Butters now that there’s a larger mass market that goes well beyond the scope of our fitness followings on social media. For instance, it’s now being sold in Publix, a major grocery store chain in Florida, whose average follower has no clue who he is.
Ryan explains that they’ll be running four major marketing campaigns a year, with temporary price reductions and digital coupons. They will also be using geo-targeting to reach customers in specific zip codes. They can also merge their product with other related “better for you” snacks, such as Dave’s Killer Bread or Kodiak Cakes, for joint promotions.
Additionally, there are promotions that can be done with each store — and these must be carefully managed — such as getting placement in weekly ads and end caps.
31:15 – Limited edition product launches.
Ryan explains that the grocery industry works differently than the supplement industry, and retailers like Wegmans and Giant Eagle make decisions on flavors and product launches months in advance. You can’t just ‘wing’ a seasonal flavor like you can in direct-to-consumer supplements.
Ryan emphasizes the importance of forecasting and managing the supply chain, as self-manufacturing can tie up a lot of cash into ingredients that may not be needed.
33:45 – Working flavoring with Simpson Labs
Ryan talks about his experience working with Simpson Labs to create flavors for their products. Ryan mentions that they had to pivot to working with Simpson Labs after issues with another supplier. The team at Simpson Labs has experience working with food, which is helpful in flavoring a product like Fit Butters. Joe from Simpson Labs takes into consideration the fact that the fat activation in Butters can affect the flavoring process. Ryan advised them to avoid artificial flavors, and the only artificial flavors in their products are in the inclusions, not in the protein powder.
37:15 – Quality assurance in supplements.
Ryan discusses the challenges they faced with quality assurance and shipping in the food industry. He mentions how they had to switch from foam sealed lids to heat induction seals due to leakage during shipment, and they had to perfect the use of hand heat induction sealers.
Ryan also talks about the difficulties of dealing with shipping and freight and how he has lost product due to poorly handled packages. He emphasizes the importance of customer service and how they have always prided themselves on refunding or replacing products if a customer is unhappy.
41:45 – Finding good employees
Ryan talks about the need for help with FI, as he’s been doing most of the work himself, and the importance of being present on camera. Mike suggests that Ryan needs to hire someone to take over his article writing duties, so he can focus on other aspects of the business.
Mike emphasizes the importance of finding someone who is passionate about the industry and wants to own the responsibility. The team discusses how having someone in the background filming and capturing content is crucial, but it’s difficult to delegate responsibilities because of personal attachment and possessiveness over the brand. Ryan acknowledges that delegating is a challenge, but it’s necessary for the sustainability of both businesses.
1:03:15 – The importance of good hires
Mike and Ben talk about the importance of scaling up their business operations to remain competitive in the industry. They discuss the need for good hires, cutting loose what’s not working, and focusing on impactful topics rather than wasting energy on things that do not matter.
Mike emphasizes the importance of making good hires to scale the business and eliminate bottlenecks. They also talk about the exciting opportunity to provide a platform for people to make a living based on their ideas. They are constantly trying to find ways to level up and better the industry they are in.
1:07:45 – Technology and consumer needs
The trio talk about the challenge of making complex information accessible to a wider audience and the importance of creating content that is both educational and visually appealing. They also touch on the role of social media and technology in their work and the need to constantly evolve their approach to meet changing consumer needs.
1:16:45 – Authentic feedback for brands
Ben explains that while he used to be focused on reaching a large number of followers, he now cares more about impacting the industry he is passionate about and being recognized by the people in that industry who matter.
They discuss their role in the supplement industry and how they provide authentic feedback to brands they work with, even if it’s negative, in order to maintain credibility. Ben mentions that mistakes can easily happen in the industry and he is meticulous in catching them.
1:22:15 – The responsibility of influencers
Ben, Mike, and Ryan understand the importance of being credible sources and taking their responsibility seriously, especially when it comes to small-time brand formulas. They acknowledge that their impact may not always be visible to the public, but they know that they have been able to make a difference.
1:25:15 – Compliance
Quality and compliance is paramount. Misspellings, incorrect labeling, and the use of unlicensed ingredients can harm the industry’s reputation and lead to legal trouble. They commend brands like Ghost for starting off on the right foot and acting like a billion-dollar brand from day one.
1:29:30 – Fit Butters on the west coast?
Ryan talks about how they are not interested in using certain ingredients like probiotics in their nut butter product, as they prefer to focus on flavor first and functional benefits. He also mentions Fit Butters’ plans to expand to the West Coast and potentially introduce new product lines, but they do not want to enter the saturated bar market. Ultimately, they want to have fun with their business and make a living doing something they enjoy.
1:37:45 – Value of ingredients
The group discusses the value of different ingredients and the price points at which consumers are willing to pay. They also touch on the idea of controlled studies to test the effectiveness of pre-workout supplements with different price points and ingredient levels.
1:46:15 – What happened to creatine in Pre-Workouts?
As always lately, the topic of Cellucor and C4 comes up. The original version of C4 Sport had a high dose of creatine, and regardless of the rest of the product, Mike argues that it’s more beneficial than most other supplements because of that, especially for those who don’t eat meat. There are few pre-workouts that have a full dose of creatine, so some people add unflavored creatine to their supplements.
1:48:45 – Brands working together
In this conversation, Ben mentions a podcast coming up in May or June with a lawyer who defeated the FDA in court on the NAC case (this is also covered in the NAC section of our NMN artice). They discuss the dietary supplement industry and the importance of creating products to help people improve their health and fitness. Ryan emphasizes the need for brands to work together and support each other instead of constantly trying to undercut each other. They also mention their Discord server with over 600 engaged users discussing fitness and supplements.
Mike admits to still having an OG tub of Jack3d in the freezer as well as a stash of other goodies, but hasn’t used it in six months since he’s been quite focused lately, and emphasizes the importance of diet and removing harmful foods that affect one’s health.
The conversation ends with the hosts thanking their guest for his time.
Previous Episodes with Ryan’s Podcast
- Fit Butters on PricePlow
- Ryan Bucki on LinkedIn
- @FitButters on Instagram
- @FitnessInformant on Instagram
Thanks for joining us Ryan, and good luck to you in your endeavors!
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