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The ‘Why’ and ‘When’ of Protein Price Increases

Protein Price increase

By now you may have heard the whispers of an impending protein price spike coming to your favorite protein powder. We don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but everything you're hearing is basically true. Protein prices will increase as soon as September 1, 2021 on your favorite brands' protein powders.

COVID19 has impacted the supply chain in a way we have not experienced before. There are shortages of packaging, ingredients, truck drivers, boats, etc, all of which impact the price of the final product that you, the consumer, buy. In the world of protein, it is becoming more and more difficult for manufactures to find dairy-based protein to produce your favorite whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate; not to mention it is hard to find tubs and lids, and even when they do it costs them 2-3x to ship in today's world than it did in a life before COVID19.

Protein powder, especially Whey Protein Isolate, is in extreme shortage, which is why we are seeing price increases. Mark Glazier, CEO of NutraBio, owns his own manufacturing facility and is a consumer-facing brand. He recently posted to his personal facebook page the following:

"Whey protein presents the most serious of problem for our industry right now. Pricing is rising with no answer in sight as to when it will stop. Whey Concentrate (WPC80) has gone up almost 150% in the last few months and Whey Isolate (WPI90) has almost doubled in the same period. Manufacturers are getting hit hard and passing price increases on to brands who are in turn seeing a $5 to $10 increase in the cost of their 2 pound tubs. That’s only the increase from the contract manufacturer to the brand, add to that the markup from the brand to the store, and then from the store to the consumer. Dairy manufacturers might be pricing themselves out of the industry soon, because whey protein products will be hitting a retail price point that consumers are just not willing to pay. This will cause consumers to look for alternative protein sources."

As if the price increase isn't concerning enough, the idea of protein spiking and WPC34 coming back into the game should be.

Few brands have already announced price increases coming to their dairy-based protein powders.

Core Nutritionals was one of the first brands to publicly announce the increase in an effort to be fully transparent with consumers. Their CORE PRO will go from $38.99 to $48.99 for a 2 pound tub, with their 5 pound tub going from $72.49 to $89.99. Their MRP will go from $49.99 to $54.00. CORE POST will go from $55.99 up to $62.99. We are still waiting to see what the price of their CORE ISO does, as that is the protein that is hit the hardest. 

It is important to note that the brands are absorbing as much of the loss as they can and not passing the cost increase directly onto the consumer 100% (take Core Nutritionals for instance, they are absorbing a lot of the increase from their manufacture, but in order to keep the lights on they had to pass some of it on). Protein is a category that is generally considered as a marginally minimum category, meaning brands don't make much on it, and now that will be even more-so the truth.

More and more brands will announce price increases to their proteins. We have even heard of brands who are going to suspend their production on dairy-based proteins until pricing can come back down.

Final Takeaway

This is going to be a very interesting time in our industry. We will see some brands continue to sell proteins at higher prices, seize production completely until the market evens out and/or double-down in non-dairy proteins like plant-based. This situation is extremely interesting from a consumer perspective. Are you going to be willing to continue to buy powder proteins at higher prices, or will you consumer whole foods (chicken, beef, etc) or switch to a plant-based protein as they have gotten much better in terms of flavoring. As a business-minded individual watching the next 6-9 months is going to be so fascinating and interesting for me.

I buy protein from these companies like Core Nutritionals and NutraBio. If they are experiencing issues, imagine then me on the FIt Butters side? It is a tough road ahead of us, and my hope is that we are able to weather the storm, but I personally know of brands I work with that are no longer going to produce protein or simply can't produce it because there is none available. 

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