Supplement Company of the Month: Optimum Nutrition
Walking into the 600,000-square-foot Optimum Nutrition plant in Downers Grove, Illinois, is an intense sensory revel in to mention the least.
The sheer scale of the facility brings to thoughts the closing scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the place the Ark of the Covenant is wrapped and positioned amongst different shrink-wrapped specimens. But with the matching white lab coats, orange helmets, and pervasive aroma of cocoa powder, I additionally felt like I had pulled again the curtain at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. When we walked right into a smooth-walled mixing room crawling with busy workers pouring substances into an industrial-sized funnel to the blending vessel under, I half-expected to search out Augustus Gloop himself wedged midway down the tube.
All pop-culture nostalgia apart, although, the quick—and lasting—influence of visiting one of the biggest sports activities vitamin production amenities in North America is simply how complicated and exacting of an operation it’s to make the dietary supplements that many of us now take as a right. In an business that has a name for being now and again lower than rigorous, this was once unquestionably severe trade.
For a couple of days, I used to be lucky to be amongst a gaggle of health insiders invited in the back of the scenes to look how Bodybuilding.com’s longtime best-selling emblem operates. If you could have ever had a scoop of Optimum Gold Standard Whey, AmiNO Energy, or any of their different merchandise which might be family names in the weight room, here is the tale in the back of them!
Consistency: The New Quality
When the sports activities vitamin business first began gaining momentum, what set nice corporations and merchandise aside from their not-so-good opposite numbers wasn’t merely style, or value, and even advertising and marketing. More than the rest, it was once consistency. With a group as tightknit as bodybuilders at the time, if a buyer had been to unscrew a lid to search out clumpy powder or a dramatic exchange from their closing acquire, be aware would unfold temporarily round gyms. Today, it spreads extra temporarily than ever in the shape of scathing or raving on-line opinions.
This is strictly why Optimum Nutrition’s production facility has roughly two dozen checkpoints for high quality keep an eye on and consistency. Just whilst you assume you could have noticed the closing individual scoping or trying out a bottle of whey or pre-workout, right here comes every other. From trying out each uncooked element when it first enters the facility to X-raying the capped bottles on the ultimate manufacturing line to verify the scoop is at the height—sure, they know you hate fishing for that plastic scoop—this corporate does the whole thing in its energy to verify every bottle is precisely as the buyer expects it to be.
“The word ‘quality,’ has started to lose its currency in recent years,” says Mark Gutsch, Director of Manufacturing Operations and our information in this excursion.
It’s now not that high quality is not necessary—of route it’s, and Gutsch says that during the seek for ever-higher high quality, Optimum Nutrition rejects extra uncooked protein each and every 12 months than its closest competitor sells. But he rightly issues out that everybody claims to have “the best quality product” or “the highest quality ingredients.” The new emphasis? Consistency.
Here’s why: More than ever, shoppers understand that one protein shake—regardless of how top of the range or scrumptious—is not going to get them to their objectives. The identical is going for one meal, one exercise—one the rest. It’s best after months of nailing your foods, workout routines, and supps that all of it comes in combination, you glance in the replicate, and understand you could have critically modified.
Customers want to know what they are getting, now not simply in a single jug of whey, however in each jug. Loyalty, now not simply unmarried purchases, are what drives the corporate. And through specializing in consistency, Gutsch says, Optimum Nutrition guarantees that whilst you acquire a bottle of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey, you realize precisely what you might be getting over and over.
Changing with the Times
The starting place tale of Optimum Nutrition is acquainted to any person who ever spread out a complement container, felt disenchanted, and questioned if they may do higher. Fed up with an absence of consistency—and sure, high quality—in sports activities vitamin in the mid-’80s, the athletic brothers Mike and Tony Costello made up our minds to do something positive about it: get started their very own corporate.
With word-of-mouth powering them alongside the approach, the fledgling Costello’s Health Distributors grew temporarily and advanced into an international powerhouse. Today, it encompasses now not best the maximum recognizable emblem of protein on the planet, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard, but additionally a couple of recognizable manufacturers beneath one roof.
They have additionally branched out from strictly bodybuilding dietary supplements and now boast an immense array of merchandise adapted to fulfill the wishes of each sort of athlete or health-seeking shopper.
“Our consumers aren’t just looking for a good quality protein powder any more, and they are not spending all their time lifting weights in the gym,” explains Sarah Teeter, Brand Director at Optimum Nutrition.
She issues out that over the previous few years, lifting weights has turn out to be now not simply an finish itself, however a way to make stronger different actions and objectives of their consumers’ lives. Sure, there is a undying attraction to development larger muscle groups and dropping frame fats, however gym-goers lately are doing greater than ever ahead of, and taking extra dietary supplements to lend a hand them do it.
“It’s no longer just about ‘build muscle,’ says Teeter. “It’s about restoration, restore, and rebuild.”
Beyond the Shaker
Just as the definition of health has modified, protein powder is now not relegated to the shaker cup. It’s stoning up in lattes, cookies, breads, and sure, even donuts.
As Teeter explains, “The average consumer has gotten wise to what the fitness industry has known for decades: We could all use more protein.”
Much of Optimum’s contemporary product enlargement has been in developing new, simple techniques to get that protein. On the height flooring of a glittering glass development overlooking the treetops of the neighboring nature keep, our hosts at ON laid out a buffet of their newest ready-to-eat merchandise and on-the-go health dietary supplements, each and every designed to make the transition from gymnasium to existence more straightforward.
A couple of come with protein cake bites, protein wafers, protein almonds, or even whey-isolate-infused protein water—critically! There also are their unbelievably scrumptious, delicately flavored Protein Nature Bites, or a minimum of, there have been till I tried to smuggle the complete stock house in my carry-on baggage (sorry, now not sorry).
All of those merchandise are designed with the concept that fitness and health does not must be simply in the gymnasium, and protein does not simply have to return from a shaker.
“We set strict macronutrient guidelines and calorie totals for our products with the goal of using the best possible ingredients,” explains Andrew Lynch, VP of Research and Development. “We keep testing and developing until we have a final product that fits those standards but still tastes great—we never want to sacrifice taste.”
Each of those new merchandise comes with its personal distinctive demanding situations in phrases of vitamin, texture, and shelf existence. Those demanding situations are the area of body of workers participants like Matt Wengerhoff, a meals and innovation technologist in Optimum’s basement R&D lab.
“We use a variety of methods to develop the best possible texture, mixability, and flavor for each of our products,” stated Wengerhoff right through a excursion of the lab. “We test and retest each product to ensure it can hold up in any conditions with no loss of integrity, efficacy, or flavor.”
Ever left your pre-workout to your automotive in July? Had a bundle delivered when you had been out of the city and needed to go your palms and hope that the humidity would not spoil it? Wengerhoff’s crew is in price of ensuring your product remains constant and efficient it doesn’t matter what. They nonetheless have not gotten a scoop that can magically go with the flow without end on height of the protein powder, however I am advised they are operating on it.
Proven to be Number One
ON acknowledges the health business is all the time converting, however it is by no means been content material to be matter to the whims of the business. As an business chief, ON has all the time striven to innovate first, and set certain traits in complement trying out and production from the height down.
And but, lurking in the background of all of this innovation like a proud mum or dad, are the tried-and-true merchandise longtime lifters know and love: Gold Standard Whey, AmiNO Energy, Gold Standard Casein, and Serious Mass, amongst others. These are the first merchandise that many athletes check out, and for plenty of of us, they continue to be our favorites. Case in level: Optimum Gold Standard Whey was once the top-selling product on the Bodybuilding.com web site once I first got to work right here just about a decade in the past—and it nonetheless is lately.
Want to grasp why folks love it? You’ll to find over nine,000 opinions on Bodybuilding.com by myself telling you the main points, and 1000’s extra for each and every of the ones different flagship merchandise. No different emblem can declare the identical degree of long-term dedication from its customers, which is why ON just lately introduced a brand new advertising and marketing marketing campaign constructed round a unmarried be aware: “proven.”
The executives I spoke with stated their be aware selection was once all about slicing via the din of the noisy complement market. “Proven” isn’t about convincing you to offer then a one-time shot, or shouting the identical message as everybody else. It’s about reminding consumers of the high quality and consistency that propelled this corporate to the height of the business and has saved them there for many years.