Brisbane-based activewear and supplement company Muscle Nation is following up a high-growth FY21 with a new nationwide deal to supply one of Australia's leading retailers Coles Group (ASX: COL).
The company founded in 2016 by Nathaniel Anthony and Chris Anastasi, who last year won both the Retail & Services and Fashion Design categories at the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards, will be selling its signature custard casein protein powders at the national retailer.
The latest deal will also be a springboard for a national roll-out of two new products - a line of custard protein bars coming in four flavours, and a custard plant protein powder.
Muscle Nation's founders expect to be selling these items across Coles' 833 stores Australia-wide by mid-July.
The breakthrough comes as another Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Award winner Mathew Stillone recently secured a nationwide deal with Coles to stock Botanika Blends' vegan protein cookies and bars - a breakthrough he hoped would be a sign of a retail shift towards more locally-produced, Australian food.
Muscle Nation has gone from a startup to a multi-million dollar e-commerce platform in a short space of time, with more than two million community members and more than $51 million in total revenue in FY21, representing an 89 per cent lift year-on-year.
"If you had told us when we started our Muscle Nation journey, from a small study desk packing and sending orders ourselves, that we would be selling our products in a major supermarket like Coles across over 833 stores nationwide, I am not sure we would have believed you," says Anthony.
"Chris and I have spent the past five years focused on building our community and business online, so to see our brand on the shelf next to well established, Australian and international brands is a great thrill.
"We have an amazing community who have helped us get to where we are today and we're excited to see where this next step takes us."
The new Muscle Nation protein bars are filled with the company's custard protein, layered layered inside the bar to make it taste like a dessert while maintaining all the health benefits of a protein bar.
In terms of the powders, Muscle Nation's products are packaged in pouches rather than the usual tubs, which they claim means a 98 per cent reduction in the use of plastic.
"It is rare to see an Australian online retailer successfully secure a deal with a large national grocer so when the opportunity presented itself we wanted to do something special," says Anastasi.
"The result is a new, exclusive range of protein bars, filled with our signature Custard protein which is very popular with our existing community.
"This new Custard protein bar has incredible texture, tastes amazing and is high in protein and fibre and low in carbs and fat. We're looking forward to introducing our specialty products to a whole new audience."
Coles' general manager for grocery Leanne White says the supermarket chain is proud to partner with an emerging Australian business to expand its health food offering to customers, with six products exclusive to Coles.
"We have been following the Muscle Nation journey closely for some time and have been impressed by the way in which they have built their brand and product offering," White says.
"As part of our purpose to sustainably feed all Australians to help them live healthier, happier lives, we are delighted to support Muscle Nation who is paving the way with an innovative Custard protein range.
"We see great potential for them in the health food category, which has experienced substantial growth in the past 12 months as consumers focus on their health and feeling their best."
She adds the range has already started rolling out in stores with some fantastic early results.
As part of the launch Muscle Nation is partnering with charity 'Do Good Movement' to donate a percentage of sales to mental health charities, with a goal of raising $50,000 in the next 12 months.
Muscle Nation's first goal is to fund the training and placement of 50 Lifeline Text Crisis Supporters through an 18-week course by Christmas.
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