To manage high cholesterol and chronic acid reflux, ICONIC Protein CEO and founder Billy Bosch made an appointment with his doctor, who prescribed him a series of pills. Instead of filling the prescription, Bosch turned to a registered dietician who nixed the Rx and suggested a diet full of protein and fiber, and less calories and sugar. But when Bosch asked about a beverage that filled these requirements, the dietician came up short. “I took it upon myself to make food the solution, and set out to create a protein drink an R.D. would actually stand behind,” he says.
Why ICONIC Sources International Ingredients
Sourcing was an early challenge as the brand found its footing. “As someone who had never created a beverage before, I found a steep learning curve around sourcing and supply chain,” Bosch shares. From the beginning, Bosch was adamant about using protein that would help challenge current industry norms around animal welfare, environmental impact, and bioavailability. Of course, the drink had to taste delicious, too. Before deciding on dairy as the drink base, Bosch compared a series of both animal- and plant-based protein sources, and found dairy proteins not only tasted better, but also had a higher bioavailability of nutrients. With a decision made, Bosch headed to Ireland to source grass-fed milk protein isolate—a premium mix of whey and casein, and one of the few milk proteins that’s lactose-free.
“Although sourcing internationally significantly increases the cost of raw ingredients, it’s well worth it in order to do right by farmers, cows, customers, and the environment.”
“What we found in Ireland exceeded expectations on all fronts,” Bosch explains. “Although sourcing internationally significantly increases the cost of raw ingredients, it’s well worth it in order to do right by farmers, cows, customers, and the environment. Obviously, it would cost less and present fewer challenges to source within the United States, but these core values of sustainability and animal welfare were non-negotiable for ICONIC.”
Many conventional U.S. farms use less expensive corn and soy feed for cattle instead of grass-grazing, but Ireland supports open pastures. In June 2019, ICONIC’s strategy was approved by the ASPCA Shop With Your Heart Program, which educates consumers on brands that source ingredients from humanely raised animals.
As a beverage brand, one of ICONIC’s missions is to evangelize where ingredients come from. “Though the task may seem daunting, the unfortunate fact is consumers interested in supporting animal welfare, sustainability, and food free from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics need to do a little homework before voting with their dollars. It’s great to find products with ‘non-GMO’ or ‘Organic’ seals, but it’s even more vital to understand the entire sourcing process of the manufacturer,” Bosch says. He recommends searching beyond organic, and diving into additional certifications such as Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World, Global Animal Partnership (GAP), and Certified Humane.
How ICONIC Uses Functional Ingredients
The search for medication alternatives has compelled many food brand founders to create their own solutions, with results that not only transform their own lives, but others as well. As ICONIC continues to evolve and serve the needs of its growing (and enthusiastic) customers, Bosch remains focused on solving the dilemma of creating protein drinks that aren’t only convenient, but better for your health. “There are few things more rewarding than scrolling through reviews talking about how much a product has changed lives or how integral a drink is to someone’s day.”
To create its beverages, the brand works closely with nutritionists, registered dietitians, and food scientists to develop nutritionally dense drinks using functional ingredients that have health-promoting properties. “Sometimes we’ll brainstorm with our team and try out different concoctions off the cuff (for better or worse), and other times we talk to our customers to understand what they need help with,” Bosch says. Here are some of the ingredients and drinks you can enjoy:
Sourced from India, this vibrant spice delivers potent flavor and the active ingredient curcumin, a polyphenol that, according to studies, may have several health benefits, including combating inflammation.
Try It: Turmeric Ginger Protein Drink
Bosch says ICONIC created this drink because customers wanted something restorative. In the test kitchen, they perfected the right mix of ingredients like black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. The drink delivers 20g of protein per serving.
This powdered tea delivers a variety of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. Its known for offering a mild caffeine boost that’s not as strong as coffee, plus an amino acid called L-theanine that may help you stay focused.
To mellow the earthy taste of a matcha drink, ICONIC added rich coconut cream. With 20g of protein per serving, plus vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium, it’s a great choice to help your body re-fuel after a workout.
ICONIC’s rich chocolate drinks and protein powders are made with cocoa powder sourced internationally. Filled with minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium, cocoa isn’t just an ingredient that tastes good—it may give your health a boost, too.
Whip up a morning smoothie inspired by rich dessert flavors. This powder is made from cocoa powder and milk protein isolate that slowly digests to help you stay full. Monkfruit adds subtle sweetness, and each serving delivers 35% of your daily recommended value of calcium.