Protein powder research identifies market gap

Inline Nutrition marketing and sales manager Polly Withers and Seperex Nutritionals director...
Inline Nutrition marketing and sales manager Polly Withers and Seperex Nutritionals director Lawrence Alloo show off Inline Nutrition's range of protein powders. Photo by Linda Robertson.

When University of Otago graduate Polly Withers started researching protein powders last year, she knew nothing about protein or nutritional products.

''I thought it was just for guys who wanted to become big at the gym,'' she said.

While her research led to the discovery of what a ''massive'' market it was, from mid-teens through to people in their 60s, she also realised how many protein supplements had unnecessary artificial additives.

A gap was identified in the market for a natural New Zealand-made whey protein.

Over the past seven months, a range of three whey protein powders have been developed and Dunedin-based company Inline Nutrition began production this month.

For Miss Withers (21), now the company's marketing and sales manager, it has been a rare opportunity to be involved with a business from research through to launch and everything in between.

That included working on product formulation, website design, product design and now marketing.

Brought up on a farm near Methven, she graduated from university with a marketing degree last year.

Around that time, Lawrence Alloo, a shareholder and director of Seperex Nutritionals, was looking for someone to conduct research into protein powders.

Once the research report was completed, Miss Withers worked closely with the food science department at the University of Otago, along with utilising the skills at Seperex, to develop the products.

''Endless hours'' had been spent tweaking the recipes and ensuring the right flavour balance was achieved.

Flavour was the biggest challenge, Mr Alloo said.

The ingredients were all naturally sourced, with as many of them as possible coming from New Zealand.

The dairy stream came from New Zealand, while the flavours were sourced from overseas.

Inline proteins were the only proteins in the world to be sweetened with dried monk fruit juice, a low-calorie natural sweetener.

Miss Withers said the company's target audience was ''everyone'' from elite athletes through to vegetarians wanting an easy source of protein.

The New Zealand market was being targeted initially, all online driven, and there was potential for export in the future, Mr Alloo said.

There was also the prospect of complementary lines, such as bars, green tea and ready-to-go drinks.

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