Big Interview: Nathan Carey, founder and owner, ProYo Frozen Yogurt

Gruesome injury provides spark for launch of new high protein frozen yogurt

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Gruesome injury inspires high protein frozen yogurt ProYo

Related tags: Whey protein

Epiphanies come in various forms; for frozen yogurt entrepreneur Nathan Carey his came in the form of a gruesome weight lifting injury. 

While attempting to press almost 400 pounds overhead, Carey’s humerus snapped in three locations, and his arm bent back 90 degrees. He ended up having to have a rod inserted in his arm from shoulder to elbow and suffered nerve damage to boot.

Beyond having his arm in a cast from shoulder to wrist, “I couldn’t move my fingers for about three weeks,”​ Carey, owner of ProYo Frozen Yogurt, told FoodNavigator-USA.

High protein, but bad taste

It was while he was in physical therapy that he saw the reactions of fellow patients who where consuming high protein products to support their own recoveries.

“I was astonished by people buying all these high protein drinks.  These people’s facial expressions were hideous. They were force feeding themselves these drinks and they didn’t even like them,”​ Carey said.

“Before I had snapped my arm I had recently opened up a smoothie bar and I tested different methods of delivering protein. So I was looking to get some protein but I couldn’t cut meat, and I didn’t want to drink something that tasted bad.  So that’s when I started tinkering around in the kitchen and coming up with different mixes,”​ he said.

ProYo is formulated with a mixture of whey protein concentrate and isolate to boost the protein content to 20 grams per 4 oz. serving, Carey said.  In addition, the product contains inulin, to boost its fiber content to 3 grams per serving. It is offered in four fruit flavors, and is sweetened with sugar and stevia. And the base of the product, the yogurt, is specially formulated to boost the number of live probiotic cultures it contains.  The finished product is estimated to contain 200 billion CFUs.  

Pro-Yo-frozen-yogurt

“We actually have chosen five specific cultures that we are using to create our own yogurt at our own facility. The way we are making the mix causes these cultures to live longer and allows us to achieve higher culture counts. As the cultures are activated, we are capturing them at their highest level of activity before they go through the freezing process,” ​Carey said.

“We believe after we complete our validating tests that we will have the highest active culture yogurt on the shelf,”​ he said.

Learn as you go

Like many an entrepreneur, Carey learned as he went along.  He has a background in architecture and construction management, so he hired a team to help with the development of his frozen yogurt.

“I tinkered around with it myself and then I brought on two or three nutritionists and on top of that I brought on a food scientist who had focused on yogurt and the development of high protein bars and drinks.

“It’s almost like I went to my own community college by learning all this stuff from them,”​ Carey said.

In addition to its high nutrition values, the product was designed around convenience, too.  The product is packaged in push up tubes, needing no utensil.

Nathan-Carey-Expo-2013
Carey launched ProYo at Natural Products Expo West

“The packaging factor is a huge component. It’s not only convenient, it’s fun.  It’s specifically designed to be eaten with one hand,”​ Carey said.

Carey launched his product at the recent Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, CA. He said the overwhelmingly favorable reaction he received there has caused him to rethink his distribution options.  The product, which has all natural and non GMO claims and uses non rBGH milk, has been accepted for distribution in Whole Food markets in California. 

But with new distribution options being offered by buyers who sampled the product at the show, Carey said the company may choose to follow the “book”​ strategy, that is, pursue East and West Coast distribution simultaneously and then work inward.

Related topics: Dairy, Manufacturers

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