Muscle Milk

Muscle Milk, the biggest sports nutrition brand in the US, has unveiled ambitious plans to rack up £40m in UK sales over the next five years after securing its first mainstream listing with Sainsbury’s.

Owned by Cytosport, Muscle Milk has a 23% share of the £850m US sports nutrition category, equating to about £195.5m in annual sales [Nielsen 52 w/e 15 June].

In the UK, it has been sold only in specialist and health food shops to date, but Cytosport is now looking to power up Muscle Milk’s British presence, with its chocolate and strawberry-flavoured ready-to-drink variants set to go into more than 400 Sainsbury’s convenience stores this weekend (rsp: £2.99 for a 330ml bottle).

One bottle of Muscle Milk RTD contains 20g of milk protein, is gluten-free, low in lactose, and is sold as an ambient product. It is targeted at a broad spectrum of sports enthusiasts, including professional and amateur athletes.

In the US, Cytosport had “brought protein to the masses”, said UK general manager Steve Norris, adding Muscle Milk had very strong repeat and weight of purchase rates, with some shoppers buying it two to three times a week.

Sainsbury’s listing of the RTD will be followed by a listing in Boots, which will stock chocolate, strawberry and vanilla variants from January. Cytosport was pursuing listings with Tesco and Asda for 2014, the company added.

The Muscle Milk RTD drink is being manufactured in Austria, and Cytosport is currently looking into options to manufacture its protein powder and bars in Europe as well.

Cytosport joins a growing number of suppliers who are launching protein-enhanced drinks targeted at mainstream consumers in the UK, including Arla, Maximuscle, Volac and For Goodness Shakes.