US protein business BellRing Brands is assessing “strategies and tactics” to take the best advantage from the emergence of the GLP-1 weight-loss drugs.
President and CEO Darcy Davenport said BellRing Brands is already “well aligned with this opportunity” amid expectations people on the drugs will seek out nutrition-related products during and after the medication regime.
Chatter among food and drinks manufacturers about the benefits and potential headwinds on demand from the glucagon-like peptide 1 appetite-supressing prescription drugs has been gaining prominence of late. While many FMCG executives have stressed it is too early to determine the impact on consumer demand from the FDA-approved Ozempic and Wegovy drugs, for example, Davenport was optimistic.
The head of the Premier Protein shakes and Dymatize protein powders maker said BellRing Brands plans to “test media platforms” in order to “determine the strongest, most effective strategies and tactics to reach these consumers”.
Davenport added as she discussed fourth quarter and full-year results with analysts: “We’re encouraged by the early results of these medications and feel that they strengthen the already strong macro trends behind our category, and specifically, our business.”
As the company’s volumes rose 19.4% and 9.3% over the two reporting periods – despite price increases – Davenport went to some lengths to explain.
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“Our proprietary research indicates consumers most likely to adopt GLP-1 are currently light users of protein shakes but will become heavy users once on the medication. These individuals have reduced total caloric intake but actually need more protein to mitigate muscle loss and certain other side effects.
“Research also indicates that once on the medication, consumers start exercising more and choosing healthier food and beverage options, ultimately increasing the demand for convenient and sports-nutrition products.”
She added that BellRing Brands’ products are “a perfect nutrition solution when people decide to stop taking the drugs to maintain the weight-loss benefit”.
Davenport was reluctant to share more information around potential future product innovation to address the needs of users but when asked about formulation she said it is “part of what we’re evaluating”, in areas that might include micro-nutrients.
BellRing Brands has added production capacity with two co-manufacturers taken on during the fiscal 2023 reporting period and is currently preparing to open a new Michael Foods’ plant, which will add 10% to output in a phased manner once it comes on stream in December.
In the 2024 financial year, the company plans to increase promotional and marketing spending and ramp up investment, all of which will “skew higher” in the second and fourth quarters.
For the quarter to 30 September, BellRing Brands posted revenue of $472.6m, an increase of almost 25%, aided by a 5.2% price/mix benefit.
Revenue for the year amounted to $1.67bn, up 22%, helped by a positive price/mix of 12.2%.
Net earnings rose 37% for the quarter to $46.1m, while for the year they more than doubled to $165.5m.
Asked for a sense of future pricing, CFO Paul Rode said: “We’ve planned in ’24 to get back to a more normal cadence of promotion. And so that would obviously drive a pricing headwind for the year.
“We’re calling for a low- to mid-single-digit headwind on pricing to net sales growth. As far as the competitive dynamic, I wouldn’t say anything has dramatically changed. We’ve actually seen some competitors take pricing higher recently.”