ProYo high protein ice cream rolls out nationwide as retailers expand better-for-you pint set

ProYo first hit the market in 2013 with its whey-protein-fueled smoothie tubes, but is now moving into high protein ice cream pints

With frozen yogurt sales still “tanking,” retailers are increasingly turning their attention to ice cream products that offer similar benefits (more protein, less sugar and fat), but truly deliver on taste and texture, says Santa Barbara-based ProYo, which is rolling out new high-protein pints to 3,000 stores this month.

We started shipping the pints at the beginning of March and we were very fortunate to get into all the Kroger banners from the get go, along with Wakefern, Shaw’s, Wegmans, Safeway in Northern California, Bristol Farms, and others,” said founder Nathan Carey, who hopes to be in 6,000 doors by early 2018.

 “Conversations I’ve been having with retail buyers are completely different than they were even two or three years ago, as I think the success of brands such as Halo Top has really put it into buyers’ heads  and this whole good for you or better for you subcategory has come to life.

“Today it almost takes a full freezer door, which is awesome. So you get a super-premium door, a good for you door, a novelty door and a gallon door.”

Brands in the better for you ice cream set are all catering to slightly different needs

While there are a lot of brands now competing in the so-called better for you ice cream set, retail buyers have been blown away by the mouthfeel of ProYo ice cream, coupled with its short ingredients list, clean label, and high protein, low calorie positioning, claimed Carey.

You have brands such as Enlightened, Arctic Zero, Halo Top, and ProYo, and then you have brands such as Weight watchers and Skinny Cow, but they are all catering to slightly different needs.”

ProYo occupies a distinct niche in the category because it is a low fat [1.5g per 81g serving and 120 cals], lower-sugar [9g/serving] product with a decent amount of protein (10g/serving or 35g per 14oz container) and fiber (3g/serving), and a very creamy texture without using gums and stabilizers, he added.

“What separates us from the set is that we have the fewest ingredients and yet we’re delivering a high protein product with a mouthfeel that really is identical to regular ice cream owing to our proprietary, patented process for producing the whey protein concentrate and dairy [skim milk and whole milk] combination we use in our products.”

We are not using gums and stabilizers to create a creamy texture

He added: “Unlike many other low-fat ice cream companies, we are not using gums and stabilizers to create a creamy texture, and we’re not using high intensity sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia and then combining them with something like erythritol.

“We use cane sugar and xylitol, which we like because it has [40%] fewer calories, than sugar, it’s low glycemic, and it has dental health benefits,” added Carey, who entered the market in 2013 with a high protein frozen yogurt smoothie in a tube he developed after breaking his arm in three places in a gruesome gym accident and wanting something portable he could hold with his good arm during his recovery.

“What was really interesting is that consumer feedback we had showed that consumers didn’t view stevia as being a natural ingredient [although stevia extracts are derived from leaves], it was a constant thread that came through from the consumer, and they also perceived it as off tasting.

“I’ve never been a fan of monk fruit, and erythritol is not my favorite either so I wanted to find something I could use as a bulking agent but would also deliver benefits, so I picked xylitol.”

Target consumers for ProYo high protein ice cream (MRSP $5.49/pint) are weekend warriors, healthy Moms and Dads looking for something indulgent but better for you for themselves and their kids, and Millennials looking for a quick, healthier snack.

Ingredients list (vanilla bean): Skim milk, whole milk, whey protein concentrate, xylitol, cane sugar, inulin, natural flavors, ground vanilla beans.

Buyers said that if we include probiotics on the ice cream label, consumers might think we were selling frozen yogurt

One thing ProYo ice cream doesn’t contain, he said, is probiotics: “We did a survey of 15,000 US consumers and when we ranked attributes consumers were looking for, probiotics were actually pretty low on the list. But the other reason was that buyers told us that if we include the word probiotics on the ice cream label, consumers might think we were selling frozen yogurt, which is tanking right now.”

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