Speaking to us during an exclusive interview in Sydney, MD Nathan Cheong said “"personalised medicine and nutrition are only going to get bigger and bigger".
"It is part of why we have been so successful in recent years, because patients are consulting practitioners for a more personal method of treatment," he said.
Cheong revealed the firm was about to launch a range of personalised nutrition services as part of iits clinical medicine portfolio.
It already offers omega-3 testing, but practitioners will soon to be able to get their hands on a number of diagnostic tools.
"We will essentially be able to provide a number of genetic panels based on a variety of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
"They will cover inflammation, nutritional genomics, fertility, mood and cognition, and methylation, among others. The tests will reveal an individual's predisposition to these SNPs and it will help inform the way the practitioner treats them."
Cheong, who was appointed MD in 2014, said the practical benefits of being able to act on such detailed information were immense.
"For example, if we find that you don't have the SNP to process a B vitamin like folic acid, it may mean that you need the next active form. Practitioners will be able to recommend the exact B vitamin you need.
"Also, If you have a cardiovascular disease risk, we can determine if you are a caffeine metaboliser or not. If you are a slow metaboliser, we can advise you that it's probably not a good idea to have perhaps more than two cups of coffee a day."
The tests will entail a saliva swap sent to a lab in Melbourne to be processed. The results should be ready in less than a week.
After first being launched in Australia, this will also be rolled out in New Zealand, and Cheong sees scope for the service in Asia, too.
"Because we are so connected in Asia through Blackmores, it may not be that difficult to have them pick up some of this in markets such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and potentially, China."
However, Cheong was keen to emphasise the benefits of personalised nutrition through the practitioner model, and questioned the impact of some over-the-counter testing kits.
"There are companies around trying to offer similar things directly to consumer, but the powerful point is having a practitioner to interpret that information and help deliver the best outcomes.
"I think some of the over-the-counter tests are limited in their ability to affect change because they are a little gimmicky at this stage. You are only going to get general information from those, and any of the information you get still needs to be interpreted."
Looking ahead, Cheong — who is a trained naturopath — predicted huge demand for personalised probiotics.
"The microbiome changes all the time, so it needs to be tested time and again. In an ideal world, you will be able to suggest a specific strain that is personalised to you," he said.
The BioCeuticals business has almost doubled over the past four years, with annual sales now topping $80m. When sales from its Global Therapeutics Chinese herbal business are factored in, that figure rises to over $100m.
Blackmores' Q1 results, released last month, showed that BioCeuticals and Global Therapeutics sales grew by 14% from the prior corresponding period.
In part two of our interview, coming next week, we discuss with Cheong business strategy, delivery systems and the most in-demand products.