- Exercise giant CrossFit has teamed with meat company Strauss Food to market a selection of grass-fed beef and free-range chicken. These will be first be sold via subscription box, but the products will eventually retail in more than 3,000 grocery stores across the U.S. The companies also will partner to develop a line of jerky, Project NOSH reports.
- CrossFit hopes the partnership will help its devotees more easily find products to fuel their workouts, Jeff Cain, CEO Of CrossFit told Project NOSH. “CrossFit is both an exercise methodology — constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement — and a nutrition prescription — eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, little starch and no sugar,” Cain said. “When opportunities present themselves where there is alignment on nutrition, as with Strauss Brands, we’ll consider them.”
- CrossFit executives say the company could consider future partnerships with other food and beverage brands to create lines of snacks and other food products. The company is most interested in items that its athletes turn to, including nuts, seeds and bars.
CrossFit and its many loyal followers say the program is more than a training system or set of exercise prescriptions, but a way of life that extends way beyond losing weight. Like the paleo diet, CrossFit’s The Zone diet recommends whole foods, with an emphasis on protein and “good” fats.
Its partnership with Strauss is a first, but CrossFit athletes have long been used as brand ambassadors for natural food brands, Project NOSH notes. Brands such as RXBAR, Fuel for Fire and Kill Cliff all targeted CrossFit participants and have seen fast adoption of their products. That’s because when a company wins over the CrossFit consumer, they win over a niche audience with a massive following, Cain said. People who use these types of products are not the casual dieters, but dedicated athletes who are likely to stick with food products that deliver the nutrition they want for extended periods.
CrossFit isn't the only specialty diet to partner with food manufacturers to stake a claim in mainstream grocery stores, either. In January, Hormel Foods' Applegate announced a partnership with Whole 30, a trendy elimination diet. Seventeen of Applegate's meat products now feature a Whole30 seal of approval — meaning the products don't include grains, legumes or sweeteners. This branding addition could help the company's product line stand out from competitors, and gain a health halo beyond what more familiar terms like "organic" and "grass-fed" can offer.
The growing number of partnerships between food companies and diet plans reflects consumer interest in holistic health and the concept of "food as medicine," and if these early deals prove lucrative, more food brands will undoubtedly seek similar branding opportunities.
What's unclear is how long the benefits of these collaborations will last. Both the CrossFit Zone diet and Whole 30 could quickly fade into obscurity, making way for new nutrition trends to take over. Partnerships with specialty diets could help bring buzz to a brand and boost sales — if only temporarily.