Jordan Rubin, who co-founded the company with Josh Axe, explained to FoodNavigator-USA that the marketing potential for the brand’s products is huge – especially for the ketogenic products, which he said is attracting a “mind-boggling” level of consumer interest that could be as much as three times that of the already well-established paleo diet.
In addition, he said, “bone broth has taken 5,000 years to become an overnight sensation,” and he predicts that it, along with collagen and keto, will take over Natural Products Expo West in the next five years – replacing the current buzz around plant proteins.
However, he added, “when dealing with emerging trends like bone broth, collagen and keto it takes a fair amount of effort to get those concepts into the consciousness of middle America.”
Which is where the minority stake investment announced March 8 led by VMG Partners, with significant support from Hillhouse Capital and a co-investor group more than 100 other industry veterans, influencers and individuals, comes in to play.
“This minority investment and us partnering with VMG gives us a greater ability to reach more people and in a faster manner,” Axe said, explaining the company is “really excited to pour more into social media, which is a big avenue for us as we do a lot with our social media platform – whether that be Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.”
The brand also plans to reach out more with its retail partners through in-store demonstrations, and continue to support its strong direct-to-consumer ecommerce business, he said.
“We want to make sure that in 2018 we build a strong foundation” that can support the company’s “significant product development and expansion opportunities,” Rubin added.
This includes the company’s new keto line, which launched last Fall and began appearing on store shelves this winter.
Rubin explained the line was designed to support people who want to follow a low-carb, paleo or ketogenic diet, and the products feature proteins “that are very similar to proteins we get in nature … whether that be from grass fed beef for example, and also some healthy fats, some omega-3s and other fats that are great for the body.”
The line includes a bone broth protein that is rich in collagen, a MCT powder that comes from coconut and can be burned by the body for energy, a bone broth oil made from the healthy fats and oils that rise to the top when making bone broth, and different combinations of adaptogenic herbs, he said.
The company also offers a multivitamin formulated to support the keto diet, which includes higher levels of fat soluble vitamins like C, K, A and E and higher levels of certain B vitamins.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, but when they are on a ketogenic diet, your body can be more susceptible to certain deficiencies and you want to be getting more of certain types of vitamins and minerals in your body,” Rubin said.
Similarly, he noted, because the keto diet emphasizes low carb intake “there is a little less for your body to feed off of in terms of fuel for different types of microbes in your gut, so we have a keto probiotic – the first ever.”
He added, “again, this is a great line for people who are looking to get good quality protein and fat in their diet and certain types of herbs, like adaptogens, that really support your body when you are in a ketogenic state.”
Other product development on the horizon
The company also recently released its Ancient Apothecary line, which follows ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine principles of using combinations of herbs, Axe said.
The company plans to continue to build both lines, as well as its powdered bone broth proteins, while also expanding into new areas, Rubin added.
“There are key categories within what you would call the VMS space that we are going to expand into and in certain instances, particularly direct to consumer, we want to have a leading probiotic, which has been my first love and passion in this space when I started,” Rubin said.
In addition, the company plans to “help invigorate” the slightly “stale” essential fatty acid or omega-3 category, he said.
Across the board, Ancient Nutrition will try to expand the usage occasion for its products, which its co-founders are confident they can do by tapping into their existing direct-to-consumer following and “powerful” Amazon relationship. But ultimately, Rubin said, the company hopes to go beyond online to be in 50,000 to 100,000 brick and mortar stores and have “tremendous influence in the lives of a percentage of people in America.”
A strong track record for growth
It is this go-getter attitude that has helped fuel Ancient Nutrition’s growth – and attract the attention of its new investors.
According to SPINS, Ancient Nutrition quickly became the No. 2 ranking protein supplement and meal replacement brand in the natural channel since it launched. The company also touts a 266% growth CAGR from 2013-2017 in the protein, collagen and gut health category – contributing $10 million and accounting for 40% of the total category growth.
As these numbers show, the brand resonates with consumers, which is one of the factors that attracted VMG Partners as an investor, Jon Marshall, VP of VMG Partners, said in a release. He added, “we are honored to be involved in the brand’s continued growth and success.”