A bridge is said to be emerging between the $7-billion megatrend plant-based foods industry and the global market for sports nutrition and supplements, expected soon to be worth $35 billion.
Boosted even further by the COVID-19 crisis, we think this bridge forms one of the most attractive investment narratives we’ve seen in years.
It leads to what could be a brand new segment of both rapidly growing industries, with potential first-mover advantage going to whoever can crack a crucial code: How to make plant-based proteins as effective as the animal-based proteins that have, until now, dominated this market.
The sports nutrition supplements industry is now on track to reach $9.7 billion by 2027, and its protein segment alone could hit $3.1 billion.
On the other side of this bridge, the plant-based food industry is muscling its way into the estimated $4.3-trillion e-commerce segment, as new entrants not only look to threaten to disrupt the traditional food industry …
They’re also aiming to become the Amazon of niche plant-based offerings, much like Chewy.com did for pet supplies, outshining Amazon itself in the segment.
Until recently, no one has been able to crack the plant-based protein code to the satisfaction of the muscle-bound sports industry.
The company that we think finally did it landed itself an exclusive contract with one of the most popular brick-and-mortar sports nutrition stores: GNC.
And it’s about to launch on Amazon’s Launchpad platform.
And they’re not just brand ambassadors for a bridge between these growing industries …
They’re strategic investors.
The Numbers Behind Our Favorite Industry Bridge
Last year saw double-digit growth in the plant-based foods industry. Up by 27% in a single year, the plant-based food market grew almost twice as fast as the U.S. retail food market, which only saw a 15% increase in 2020--even as consumers stocked up on food for pandemic lockdowns.
Nearly 57% of American households now buy plant-based foods.
Analyst Kyle Gaa of the Good Food Institute called 2020 a “breakout year for plant-based foods”, citing “incredible growth” surpassing expectations.
SPINS head of retail Dawn Valandingham likewise noted that 2020 data indicates that retailers “should now assume everyone is a potential plant-based buyer”.
And while many consumers are looking for products that are better for them, the equally booming sports nutrition and supplements industry has also become a critical plant-based focal point. The global sports nutrition industry not only hit $10.7 billion last year, but it’s also expected to continue on a compound growth trajectory.
And if you add supplements to that, you’re looking at an anticipated industry value of over $35 billion by 2025.
The COVID-19 crisis appears to have sold consumers on the idea that the pandemic “proves that humans need to eat fewer animals”. And the market looks to have responded to these consumer interests with an aggressive level of ambition that has opened up some of what we think are the best investment--and most disruptive--opportunities in decades.
In minimal time, some plant-based stocks have increased to multi-billion-dollar valuations, and netted investors attractive rewards:
- Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) now has a $6.65-billion market cap.
- Oatly (NASDAQ:OTLY) has topped $9-billion.
- Tattooed Chef Inc (NASDAQ:TTDF) is up over 98% since its launch 5 years ago and now boasts a $1.6B market cap.
- United Natural Foods (NYSE:UNFI), the key supplier to Amazon’s Whole Foods, has given investors over 100% returns in a year.
- YUM! Brands (NYSE:YUM), which is now focused on a plant-based menu, has worked its way to an astounding $38B market cap.
PlantFuel CEO Brad Pyatt, a former NFL player himself, defines this industry trend as a much wider “active lifestyle” trend that is estimated as $53 billion--and counting.
What Peloton did for fitness...
What Oatly has done for plant-based milk …
What Beyond Meat has done for the vegan industry …
The Breakthrough Premium
The PlantFuel launch in GNC stores earlier this month features five new products including All-in-One Pre-Workout, All-in-One Nutrition, All-in-One Recovery, Performance Protein, and Daily Immunity and Hydration.
In our view, this isn’t just another protein drink, either.
This is rooted in science and cutting edge technology. PlantFuel says it uses clinically proven and scientifically validated ingredients for optimal performance.
Not only have they created a protein powder that we think actually tastes good, but they’ve done it with premium plant-based ingredients.
The company is also conducting research to demonstrate its plant-based protein is just as effective as animal-based protein, or whey.
America is obsessed with protein--and it’s no longer the purview only of bodybuilders and athletes. Two out of every 5 Americans say they consume protein drinks and shakes. It’s a national obsession, but it has its own set of nutrition problems.
Whey--a byproduct of turning milk into cheese--may not be all it was initially cracked up to be. Some say dairy-based protein isn’t healthy. Beyond the digestive issues that can be caused by dairy and highlighted by the growing trend to give up dairy altogether, many protein drinks out there could contain toxic elements that pose great health risks.
But whey has long had one advantage: It’s animal-based amino acids have always out-performed their plant-based peers.
That’s where PlantFuel believes it can do the impossible, and that’s the key to owning this emerging market.
PlantFuel’s science-based product is premium in more ways than one: They’ve added amino acids that they say match those found in whey … and they’ve also added performance mushrooms.
Now on offer, with a lineup of new products still to come …
- All-in-One Nutrition features 20g of complete plant-based protein plus 29 fruits and vegetables, as well as clinically studied Wellmune® beta glucan for immune system health to provide you with complete nutrition on the go. The initial flavor offerings include Chocolate and Vanilla.
- Performance Protein delivers 20g of complete, plant-fueled protein with added vegan-fermented BCAAs as InstAminos® and PeakO2® performance mushrooms. The initial flavor offerings include Chocolate and Vanilla.
- All-in-One Pre-Workout uniquely features patented 3DPump -Breakthrough™ with vegan-fermented citrulline, glycerol and Amla fruit extract to support exercise performance, recovery and nitric oxide; along with 250mg of Purcaf® Organic Caffeine plus 85mg of Dynamine® to increase perceived energy and alertness. The initial flavor offerings include Fruit Punch, Watermelon and Blue Raspberry.
- All-in-One Recovery provides vegan fermented BCAAs as InstAminos® with essential amino acids as vegan Amino9® plus vegan CreaPure® Creatine and BetaPrime® to reduce soreness and recovery time, and optimize muscle protein synthesis. The initial flavor offerings include Blood Orange and Berry Breeze.
- Daily Immunity + Hydration features clinically proven ingredients Wellmune® to strengthen the immune system, and Aquamin™ calcified sea algae to provide superior hydration benefits. PlantFuel® Daily Immunity + Hydration is the proven choice to fuel your daily active lifestyle. The initial flavor offerings include Citrus Burst, Tropical Punch and Raspberry Lemonade.
Celebrities Join The ‘No F***ing Whey’ Campaign
We think nothing heralds the launch of a company looking to bridge two massively growing industries like a celebrity buy-in.
On August 31st, PlantFuel (CSE: FUEL; OTC: BLLXF) announced strategic investments by NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Terrell Owens and Rap Superstar Lil Yachty, adding even more excitement to the retail launch of this premium brand.
Former NFL star Terrell Owens
"As everyone knows, throughout my professional career I've been in phenomenal shape and extremely conscious about what I put in my body," said former NFL star Terrell Owens. "From Day 1, I was thoroughly impressed by my exploration of PlantFuel and its products. I am excited about my partnership with PlantFuel and delighted to join their team."
For Lil Yachty, PlantFuel is his second deal with his newly launched VC fund, Scoop Investments.
NFL and music industry celebrities add even more power to PlantFuel’s management team. PlantFuel was founded by a former NFL player, as well, and is being led in its marketing efforts by a former business development leader for Amazon.
PlantFuel’s founder and CEO is former NFL player Brad Pyatt, who previously has already built one $200-million empire .
And this isn’t his first foray into the vegan world: With his wife, Pyatt built TruWomen, which won the Mindful Award for best vegan protein bar of the year award in 2020.
PlantFuel President Marie Dane comes from various business development roles with Amazon, having led some of Amazon’s global partnership deals, including Johnson & Johnson and Kimberly Clark.
And Chairman of the Board Brian Cavanaugh gives us the GNC distribution connection--and a whole lot more … As a former GNC executive, Cavanaugh held executive merchant and brand accountability encompassing $1.6 billion in revenue across GNC offline and online stores.
A Push For Brick-and-Mortar and E-Commerce Presence
On August 31st, PlantFuel products launched on GNC.com, and on September 8th, its products hit the brick-and-mortar stores in a platinum partnership.
And that comes along with a GNC deal to initially purchase $3.9 million in PlantFuel products.
In October, PlantFuel will be on Amazon’s exclusive Launchpad Platform.
And it looks to be all about top-tier marketing, which includes the celebrity line-up and a style that says both “cool” and “smart”.
"We know exactly who we are and exactly what we are not," comments Pyatt. "We have assembled a team of brand experts and agencies to create and drive the brand forward. We will utilize a variety of traditional and non-traditional marketing tactics to build our brand platform."
PlantFuel's “No F***ING Whey Campaign” has been featured on billboards, and on ESPN radio and several other media outlets since mid-August.
Early-in on the ‘Impossible’
So far, we think everything has lined up for this company that is looking to do the impossible in creating a bridge between two multi-billion-dollar megatrends:
- It’s got what we think is a tier one management team for a microcap Company, with experience in driving brands from $0 to $100m in sales.
- It’s got a line-up that includes celebrity investments
- It’s got products they believe will finally compete with whey and promise to capture the American protein obsession
- It’s got built-in distribution channels with connections to leadership levels of Amazon and GNC
- It’s already has $3.9 million in intial product orders from GNC … just for starters
- And the company reports it’s got money in the bank, with a $2 million credit facility to fund inventory and its recent close on a $3M equity raise on August 9th.
We think PlantFuel (CSE: FUEL; OTC: BLLXF) is fueled up, ready to go and hitting the starting blocks with a product that could easily disrupt a sports nutrition and supplements industry that’s already headed to an estimated $35 billion. It’s one of those new industry segment niches that we believe could end up rewarding early-in investors nicely.
Other companies taking on the health and wellness niche:
Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), though not traditionally associated with health and wellness, is racing to grab a piece of this multi-trillion-dollar trend. Kentucky Fried Chicken, the fast-food megalith, is diving in headfirst to offer its loyal customers a taste of the vegan lifestyle. Teaming up with the meatless sensation Beyond Meat, KFC has launched a line of chicken-less ‘chicken nuggets’ that have been a huge hit across the globe.
Already the meatless fried chicken alternative is offered in the UK, China, across Europe, Canada, and the United States, and thanks to its success, it will likely continue to expand this offering across the globe. While nailing the iconic texture and flavor of KFC’s chicken without meat was no easy feat, the new vegan alternative has been wildly successful.
“I’ve said it before: despite many imitations, the flavor of Kentucky Fried Chicken is one that has never been replicated, until Beyond Fried Chicken,” Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer at KFC.
Ingredion Inc (NYSE:INGR) is a food ingredient and nutrition company that provides customers with innovative, value-added ingredients for many different industries. The company's portfolio includes sweeteners, starches, proteins and nutrients such as dietary fibers to improve functionality in foods. Ingredion manufactures these products at its facilities located across the globe including Europe, Asia Pacific and North America.
Their customer base is comprised of companies who manufacture various types of foods ranging from baked goods to dairy products and more. They are also involved in providing solutions like bio-based plastics for package films used by manufacturers around the world. In addition to their focus on innovation, they are committed to sustainability; using renewable resources wherever possible as well as implementing sustainable practices into their manufacturing processes.
Tattooed Chef Inc (NASDAQ:TTCF) is a small-batch food company that specializes in handcrafted, vegan entrees and desserts. They are committed to providing healthy alternatives to the standard American diet without sacrificing flavor or quality. Tattooed Chef's owner, Nora Dolan, started cooking vegetarian dishes for her friends when she was only ten years old and continued developing her skills with every dish she made.
Tattooed Chef grows, manufactures, and processes fresh and frozen foods. And even better, the products are sourced sustainably with many of the products coming from Italy. The brand looks to cater to every type of consumer, from those concerned about the environment to those focused on building and living a healthy lifestyle. Whether consumers are looking a great-tasting buffalo chicken alternative or a healthy acai bowl for breakfast, Tattooed Chef offers a wide array of delicious snacks for the conscious eater.
SunOpta, Inc. (NASDAQ:STKL) is a company that specializes in the production of dried fruits and vegetables for their customers worldwide. They offer an array of products that include: raisins, apricots, blueberries, blackcurrants, cranberries, figs, and dates. They also have organic options for all of these products as well as other dried fruit varieties like apples and pears.
SunOpta has been around since 1916 when they first started in San Francisco with just 3 employees working to produce raisins on a small scale basis. Nowadays they have over 1000 employees at facilities located in California and Oregon producing about 500 million pounds each year!
SunOpta is not going to be left out of the sustainability boom, either. In fact, it’s an integral part of the company’s business. With a plantform built to benefit not only shareholders, but also the environment, SunOpta checks all boxes for the conscious investor.
Laird Superfood Inc (NYSE:LSF) is a small company that produces nutritious, all-natural, and organic food. They are looking for ways to expand their business into new markets and increase the amount of profit they make on each product. As a result, Laird Superfood Inc has begun exploring whether or not they would be able to sell their products in bulk wholesale quantities at less than retail prices to companies such as restaurants, grocery stores, schools, colleges and universities.
The idea behind this is that by supplying these larger organizations with large quantities of food at reduced rates could help them save money in the long run while still providing quality food. This strategy also allows Laird Superfood Inc's company more exposure and increased opportunity for growth.
With products ranging from specialty creamers to coffee and instafuels, Laird Superfoods has made major waves with consumers looking for an extra boost to get their day going. And it’s drawn a lot of attention from investors in the process.
Though not exclusively engaged in the sale of plant-based products Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) is another company with a plant-based twist. It offers a wider selection of products available for both meat-eaters and plant-based diets. This is incredibly important in a time when almost 98% of consumers who buy plant-based products also buy animal meat.
Tyson is set to win big as a growing number of Americans begin to identify themselves as “flexitarian”, or people who still eat meat, but more often choose vegetarian options. While the “vegan wave” grabs more headlines, the reality is that many more consumers fall somewhere in the middle. And that’s great for Tyson, which offers an array of products that will tickle the tastebuds of a wide variety of customers – with a sustainable twist.
In a release, the company noted, “Tyson Foods is committed to sustainably offering the protein and food products that consumers want. Through the introduction of its Raised & Rooted™ brand of plant protein and blended protein options including burgers and nuggets, Tyson Foods has become the largest U.S. meat producer to enter the growing alternative protein segment.”
United Natural Foods Inc (NYSE:UNFI) is a public company that operates as a distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods in the United States and Canada. UNFI distributes more than 25,000 products to over 60 million people in North America every year. They offer both conventional and natural food lines for retailers across the country with their distribution network consisting of 43 warehouses located throughout North America. The company's headquarters are based out of Lake Success, NY where they also operate one warehouse location which serves as an international import center for all imported goods into the US market. UNFIs customers include grocery chains such as Whole Foods Market Inc., Wild Oats Markets LLC and Target Corporation.
From all-natural vitamins, snacks and meats to innovative tech solutions for small and large businesses alike, United Natural Foods Inc is a one-stop shop for all natural food needs. And its smart approach to the industry has paid off. Year to date, the company has seen its share price nearly double, suggesting that investors are digging what it’s doing.
Recently, United Natural Foods added Sandy Douglas as their CEO. Mr. Douglas is a veteran in online sales and digital marketing, skills that can make or break a company as the world races towards an increasingly online lifestyle. “We are pleased to welcome Sandy as our new CEO and member of the UNFI Board,” said Ms. Denise Clark, Chair of the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee and CEO Succession Planning Committee. “He has a demonstrated track record leading large-scale transformation and growth through strategic, customer-focused action. His extensive experience, which is directly aligned with UNFI’s focus on growing the core business while investing in innovation, make Sandy well-suited to successfully drive the Company through its next chapter of growth.”
Hormel Foods Corp (NYSE:HRL) is a multinational company that specializes in the production of food and meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, lunchmeat, hot dogs and canned meats. The company operates through two segments: Grocery Products and Packaged Meats. Hormel's headquarters are located in Austin Minnesota; it also has offices around the world including San Rafael California and Shanghai China.
Hormel produces canned meat products like Spam and Skippy, as well as frozen foods like Jennie-O Turkey Store and Hormel Compleats. The company was founded in 1891 by George A. Hormel who started the business with his invention of a new process for canning pork in 1869 that allowed him to sell it throughout the country without the worry of spoilage or waste due to the lack of refrigeration at the time.
Though Hormel Foods made its name with meat products, it’s not going to get left out of the plant-based boom, either. In September 2019, Hormel launched its flagship plant-forward brand, Little Happy Plants. “We understand consumers across a spectrum of lifestyles are adopting more flexible attitudes and behaviors when thinking about food, especially given the wide variety of products available in the marketplace. We intend to focus on all the ways plants can help consumers find alternatives in their food routines,” explained Jim Splinter, group vice president of corporate strategy at Hormel Foods.
Primo Water Corporation (TSX:PRMW) is a Canadian company that has been around for over 30 years. They are committed to providing high quality water while also keeping prices low. Primo has grown and continues to grow in popularity, with their products being sold across North America.
Primo's commitment to customer service is second-to-none, with the staff going above and beyond on a daily basis in order to provide excellent customer service. Primo strives for transparency when it comes to their production process, which ensures consumers know exactly what they're getting from every bottle of Primo water they buy.
Restaurant Brands International Inc. (TSX:QSR) is the world's second largest fast-food company with over 36,000 restaurants in 100 countries and territories worldwide. It was founded by two Canadian businessmen, who at the time were franchisees of Tim Hortons restaurant chain in 1964. The company operates as a holding company for its subsidiaries that operate quick service restaurants. An example of these would be Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen brands which are both well known for their chicken dishes made from fresh ingredients on site daily. RBI has also been ranked among the top 10 most sustainable companies globally by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and Dow Jones.
Premium Brand Holdings (TSX:PBH) caters to the food manufacturing industry with a focus on healthy, organic and sustainable ingredients. They offer niche brands that compete in the natural and specialty foods markets as well as established national brands. Their portfolio includes high-quality products including gourmet organic coffee, all-natural protein supplements, gluten free crackers and nut butters.
Premium Brand Holdings is dedicated to delivering their customers with an exceptional customer experience by providing them with premier products at competitive prices while maintaining an ethical approach to business practices. Its commitment is to provide a safe environment for consumers of all ages through sound quality assurance standards and strict adherence to federal regulations governing product safety. Premium Brands Holdings also takes pride in its contributions towards sustainability by offering environmentally friendly packaging solutions.
Burcon NutraScience Corporation (TSX:BU) is a Canadian tech firm rethinking the plant-based diet. With a focus on high-purity, sustainable, flavorful, and affordable products, Burcon has checked every box in the consumer’s book. Founded way back in 1998, the company has been at the forefront of the movement for over two decades, and it’s only become more refined since.
According to its mission statement, Burcon “seeks to improve the health and wellness of global consumers through the discovery and development of sustainable, functional and renewable plant-based products for the global food and beverage industries.”
Else Nutrition Holdings Inc. (CSE:BABY) is another innovative plant-based lifestyle company from Canada. Else Nutrition has taken a different approach than many of its competitors, targeting a particularly young market – babies. Else was a first-mover in this space, offering a well-rounded, clean, sustainable and most importantly, plant-based, approach to baby food.
Their products aim to deliver al of the same benefits as typical baby food, but with an organic twist. In fact, 92% of their products are made from three core healthy ingredients, almonds, tapioca, and buckwheat. And the best part, is they never alter the plants’ chemistry or remove any of the micronutrients, they just alter the texture.
By. Charles Kennedy
**IMPORTANT! BY READING OUR CONTENT YOU EXPLICITLY AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING. PLEASE READ
This publication contains forward-looking information which is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements in this publication include that the products of PlantFuel Life Inc. (“PlantFuel”) can help bridge the gap between plant-based food industry and the global market for sports nutrition and supplements; that the plant-based food industry and global sports nutrition and supplement market will continue to grow substantially; that a new health and nutrition segment will develop and continue to grow which PlantFuel’s products will serve; that the sports nutrition and protein supplement segments will continue to grow substantially and will evolve to adopt plant-based supplements; that PlantFuel can develop a plant-based protein that is as effective as animal-based protein generally and whey protein in particular; that PlantFuel can gain first mover advantage in these developing segments; that PlantFuel can achieve sales of its products and gain market share in the sports nutrition and protein sectors; that PlantFuel can leverage support from celebrity investors to help generate sales and consumer interest in its products; that PlantFuel can achieve additional and ongoing orders from GNC and obtain sales on the Amazon Launchpad platform as anticipated; that PlantFuel can develop revenues in other brick and mortar stores and also online via ecommerce marketing efforts; that PlantFuel can continue to develop products that achieve market acceptance and consumer adoption. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Risks that could change or prevent these statements from coming to fruition include that PlantFuel’s products may not help to bridge a gap between plant-based food industry and the global market for sports nutrition and supplements as anticipated or at all; that the plant-based food industry and global sports nutrition and supplement market may not continue to grow as anticipated and that plant-based products may remain less popular than animal based products and supplements, particularly in mainstream athletics and sports nutrition; that the sports nutrition and protein supplement segments fails to grow as anticipated or continues to favour whey based supplements and animal based competing products; that PlantFuel may fail to obtain any first mover advantage in developing its plant-based protein or be unable to gain any advantage over larger and more developed competitors with more established brands; that PlantFuel’s products may be found less effective than animal-based protein generally and whey protein in particular; that PlantFuel may be unable to achieve ongoing sales of its products or gain sufficient market share in the sports nutrition and protein sectors to achieve commercial viability; that PlantFuel may be unable to achieve any significant competitive advantages from celebrity endorsements; that PlantFuel may fail to secure additional and ongoing orders in brick and mortar stores or online; that PlantFuel may be unable to develop its business due to insufficient financing or an inability to raise funds in the future; that PlantFuel may be unable to develop new products that achieve market acceptance or consumer adoption. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and we assume no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
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