Is ‘real food’ the biggest threat to supplement companies?

Jared Williams is the founder of Fresh Fitness Food, a London-based business offering tailored pre-prepared food packages that are delivered daily. After working as a lawyer for 4 years, Jared set up Fresh Fitness Food in 2012 as a result of “passion and frustration”. Today the business has 22 staff, owns 50% of the delivery company they use, and prepares 1200 meals per day. Fresh Fitness Food has a number of high profile London-based brand ambassadors including fitness models Shaun Stafford and Sandra Radav, and professional athletes such as James Haskell.

In this interview we speak to Jared about why businesses like Fresh Fitness Food are working so well, what the future holds for the health and fitness industry, and whether people are moving away from supplements and back to ‘real food’.

Why do you think your model is working so well?

Really our service is all about results and convenience. Sat behind results is precise, tailored nutrition and, because progress relies on consistency and people enjoying what they eat, great taste. Whilst the team on a day-to-day basis is passionate about results, helping people get in incredible shape and helping people feel confident, a huge reason why people use us and continue to us is because of convenience. It both removes hassle and creates more reassurance, almost giving you more headspace. I’ve always loved the phrase – no planning, no shopping, no cooking, no cleaning.

We recently sponsored the BodyPower Expo, and asked a few of the athletes how much time they gain by not prepping food and you’re talking 10+ hours per week – a working day! People are very precious of the commodity that is time – in theory you can’t buy time but you can certainly get a lot of it back through a service like ours. Some of the most powerful pieces of feedback have come from the convenience angle, such as “It’s allowed me to spend more time with my partner, or my daughter” etc.

[pullquote]People are very precious of the commodity that is time – in theory you can’t buy time but you can certainly get a lot of it back through a service like ours.[/pullquote]

People are very precious of the commodity that is time – in theory you can’t buy time but you can certainly get a lot of it back through a service like ours.

We’ve made a move towards appealing not only to fitness professionals, but also to city professionals. Those are the two ends of the market we’re trying to appeal to. Rather than delivering 20 bags to 20 houses, the future for us is delivering 20 bags to, say, a bank in Canary Wharf.

A lot of people that stop using us come back, which shines a very bright light on the service – they like the food, they want the results, they thought they could do it on their own but can’t because of a lack of time. Also they can’t do it because most people in London eat the way London wants them to eat – food that is cheap, convenient, easily transported and has a long shelf life.

“Most people in London eat the way London wants them to eat – food that is cheap, convenient, easily transported and has a long shelf life.”

One of our most popular packages is the three meal package and many clients who are buying into the five-meal-a-day eating habit decide to take care of the ‘book ends’ themselves. That’s sometimes because of family reasons, but it’s also because they need quick and easy access to healthy food when they’re busiest in the middle of the day.

One of my biggest lessons from sending out 1200 meals per day is that even when you look at the individual and apply a very empirical and scientific approach, it’s absolutely irrelevant if it doesn’t work for that person’s work schedule, taste, issues (some people don’t deal with volume, so we need to tweak the macros to reduce the volume) and relationship with food.

Our aim is to put a framework in place that will last for a meaningful period of time. If you’re pushing the meals aside to have a Mars bar or donut on day 3, good luck to your optimal diet!

 

How do you think the health & fitness industry will change over the next five years?

1. “Just For Men!”

I think the explosion of female-focused companies, workouts, hashtags and communities – both off and online will continue. But I think there will also be a reaction of sorts against this. As a man, I for one feel a bit left out! Why should the girls be doing all the cool stuff!? I think we will see the emergence of male-focused workouts, community etc. This will not signal the end of yoga, pilates and the (much needed) emphasis on girls introducing resistance training and functional movement into their workouts; rather, we will see the growth of a new type of branding, product and event that confidently speaks exclusively to men without worrying about being un-PC.

2. Social Media Influence

From the start I realised that we would increasingly become an online ‘shopping cart’ and ecommerce solution. That’s definitely showed in the website updates, and we’re becoming a very SEO-driven company. I’ve always wanted to push social media as much as possible because I really enjoy it and think it’s a great way to showcase something that I’m hugely passionate about and really proud of.

Putting my business hat on, a lot of our customers come from Social Media. Our customers are digitally and commercially sophisticated. Increasingly we look for reassurance and validation of our spending habits through reviews and shareability of food pictures. One of the things we’ll be doing more of in the future is looking for ambassadors who only have an identity online, and pursuing more short-term projects, even if they’re slightly outside of the fitness industry.

3. More information and more convenience

We will see a greater amount of, and easier access to, reliable information. I’d love to see websites like examine.com become much bigger because they’re giving out such useful advice. In addition to this, increasingly products will be delivered to your doorstep monthly and will reach a point where they are be available to purchase in gyms through an automated pos.

4. Death of the middle ground for gyms

Gyms in the middle ground are losing out. You have your high-end gyms where people want the extra care, and work closely with a Personal Trainer to achieve their goals. The other end of the market is the budget gym sector, the likes of The Gym Group – open 24 hours, punch in a code to get in, £19 a month, cancel at any time. That’s pure convenience and pure flexibility.

5. Supermarkets starting to offering meals for one

There is increasing pressure on businesses like Tesco to stop doing 3 for 2 offers and instead offer meals designed for one person, in order to avoid people throwing away food. The likes of Tesco Express have made food more accessible, and if you can make it healthy then that’s where the real change will happen. If the typical shop for the typical person is almost accidentally healthy, that’s when you’re going to have real change.

 

The supplement market has exploded in recent years, do you think that trend will continue?

We obviously won’t see the death of supplementation, but I envisage things moving much more towards food as a solution.

There are almost three groups that have emerged:

Group 1 – On one end of the scale there are those people who view supplements are essential rather than supplemental to their diet. This group will continue but I do feel (and hope) that people will become more savvy and question the quality and value of what they put into their bodies.

Group 2 – There is also an interesting middle ground emerging where people are buying traditional, everyday foods that almost borrow from the supplements market. Take bread as an example and you see omega-3 enriched breads and high protein options like Dr. Zak’s. I think this will become a real growth area.

Group 3 – The other end of scale is ‘lifestyle’. People that invest in whole foods, whole grains, balance looking down into their shopping cart and seeing variety and a ‘rainbow’ of fruit and vegetables.

We really believe that we will see an increasing number of people looking to food alone as a solution, rather than supplementation. They believe you can get to where you want with food, unless there’s a genuine reason for taking supplements – such as being diagnosed as Vitamin D deficient or if they are a coeliac, etc. People will look to their shopping basket or companies like us as a complete solution.

The supplements market has largely been built off the back of some clever marketing, when lots of it actually has a very negligible effect. Supplements can work well for some people. If you’re struggling to eat five times a day through a lack of appetite or a lack of time, then a protein shake might be a great addition to your diet, and certainly one that is better than a chocolate bar!

[pullquote]The supplements market has largely been built off the back of some clever marketing, when lots of it actually has a very negligible effect.[/pullquote]

The danger is that people see supplements as genuine meal replacements, whereas we see them as picking up the slack. We have clients who come to us and the first thing they ask us is what supplements they should be taking. As a company, we feel quite responsible for this person and almost have to educate them a little bit and often convince them that supplementation is something that might best be introduced once everything else is optimised.

 

Posted in Nutrition & Supplements, The Fitness Network.
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