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Supergut cofounder and CEO Marc Washington
Supergut cofounder and CEO Marc Washington

🎥 Supergut shines in Ozempic era: ‘We’ve tripled the business over the past 5-6 months’

March 25, 2024

Is Ozempic “an existential threat to the processed food industry,” as one academic recently told the New York Times, or is it creating new opportunities for food marketers and formulators to create new products or reposition existing ones?

One company capitalizing on a surge of consumer interest in natural alternatives to GLP-1 drugs is Supergut (formerly Muniq), a startup making bars and shakes containing a blend of resistant starches and prebiotic fibers that are fermented in the gut to produce short chain fatty acids. These in turn are claimed to stimulate production of appetite-suppressing gut hormones such as GLP-1 that Ozempic-like drugs are mimicking.

At the Future Food-Tech conference in San Francisco last week, AgFunderNews caught up with founder and CEO Marc Washington, who started pitching his wares as ‘Nature’s Ozempic’ a few months ago (a claim some legal experts have urged food brands to avoid) and has seen a sharp rise in interest as a result.

“Since we’ve really honed in on this combination of gut health and appetite control and natural GLP-1, Supergut has really taken off. We literally tripled the business over the past five or six months a result of honing in on this positioning as so many people are now so focused on this world of appetite control and GLP-1 and Ozempic and so forth, so it’s definitely creating a lot of momentum in our space broadly.”

‘This isn’t Ozempic in terms of the magnitude. No food is going to do that’

Unusually for a brand of this size, Washington has a peer-reviewed human clinical study showing volunteers with type 2 diabetes consuming Supergut products demonstrated improved glycemic control and a small reduction in body weight in a 12-week study.

Washington concedes that the “order of magnitude is going to be significantly higher and the effects lasting far longer” if you’re taking Ozempic vs foods that naturally boost gut hormones. “These drugs are essentially bathing your body in these hormones for a week.” But he also notes that many people don’t want to take drugs, don’t meet the medical criteria for taking them, or can’t afford them.

“This isn’t Ozempic in terms of the magnitude. No food is going to do that. But this is opening the avenue to have more of a conversation about your body’s natural mechanisms and metabolism. And like so many other things, it’s connected to your gut microbiome.”

There are also other benefits to consuming a mix of prebiotic fibers beyond appetite suppression, from improved gut health to general improvements in metabolic health, he observes, with resistant starch—long the unsung hero of nutrition science—finally getting its moment in the sunshine.

“It’s really hard to break through with messaging in this crowded, noisy environment,” especially with an ingredient called ‘resistant starch,’ which on the face of it doesn’t have obvious consumer appeal, he says [resistant starches are dietary fibers that resists digestion in the small intestine and reach the large intestine, where they are fermented]. “So it’s fantastic that people are finally paying attention.”

Ozempic ‘companion foods’

He adds: “We see relevancy around nutritional needs and use cases that have arisen from Ozempic, not just as an alternative, but also as a companion, as people that are using these drugs are eating fewer calories, so they need to count. They need more high protein, high fiber, and low sugar foods.

“But they are also looking for ways to offset some of the digestive side effects of these drugs. And then many people are trying to come off these drugs as well and want to maintain the results over time.”

One positive impact of the renewed interest in fibers and resistant starch is increased awareness of “gut health and its connection to total health,” says Washington. “It’s enabling people to connect the dots and talk about how gut health is connected to so much more than digestion, including appetite control, healthy weight management, and healthy blood sugar control.”

Stepping back to look at the opportunity in snacks, he says, “I see Ozempic accelerating the pace of the ‘better for you’ trend, which has focused on macros like higher protein, less sugar, but I think it’s also going to really drive interest in truly functional foods.”

Further reading:

From ‘GLP-1 companion foods’ to ‘Nature’s Ozempic…’ What the new breed of weight loss drugs means for the food industry

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