Plant protein, sports nutrition and omega-3: Tom Oliver Nutrition tapping into surging categories to drive Asian growth
Best known for its signature Omega-3 Herring Caviar soft gels, the company also carries vegan-friendly sports nutrition products: namely, Vegan Protein powders and The Vegan High-Protein chocolate bars (in addition to its regular Diet Protein powders).
It recently added two new flavours to its existing range of high-protein bars, building on its success so far by appealing to growing consumer health consciousness, preference for convenience snacking, and interest in sports nutrition.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, founder Tom Oliver said: "The range has done exceptionally well. We've managed to achieve great sales in our home market of the UK, as well as in places like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Singapore and India, so we’ve had really good traction over the last eight months.
"The key feature of the bars is that they are a hybrid of a sports nutrition supplement and a healthy convenience snack. What we tried to focus on was creating a high-protein bar that would reflect a greater consciousness of our emissions and of animal welfare.
"We're not a vegan company, but we have an understanding (of the market) and a responsibility to offer a range of products that will give people that choice."
He added that the increasing health consciousness of consumers in Asia presented plenty of opportunities for Tom Oliver Nutrition, especially when it came to offering nutritious products in traditional formats.
"The interesting thing about snacking at the moment is that people are moving away from traditionally high-sugar, high-fat items like chocolate bars to products (in similar formats) that are a lot lower in sugar and fat but just as convenient to consume. People are a lot more aware of the importance of healthy eating, and we want to cater to that."
The company also plans to expand its sports nutrition and protein product offerings in 2019, though Oliver said he could not go into further detail at the moment.
In addition to sports nutrition and protein products, Tom Oliver Nutrition also intends to introduce more vitamins and supplements to complement its herring caviar supplements; aside from omega-3 soft gels, the brand also offers a skincare supplement in the form of its Collagen Caviar Complex tablets.
The company expects the considerable growth in its vitamin and supplement category this year to increase next year, and plans to further drive this growth with NPD.
Oliver said, "By the end of 2019, we'll have at least 12 more vitamins and supplements off the back of our caviar products. Our herring caviar is a unique ingredient, but we now want to add more unique vitamin and mineral products to our range.
Spurred by success in Singapore and Hong Kong, the firm has also set its sights on Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, though Oliver emphasised the importance of starting small and focusing on sustainable growth.
"Japan and South Korea present significant opportunities, and we've been fine-tuning our relationships with those countries and trying to finalise (our entry). We also have plans in 2019 to enter the Malaysian market.
"I think the key focus for a small company or start-up like ours is the ability to grow sustainably without having to give away equity, and we achieve that by entering smaller markets where we are able to have a greater impact, before entering the larger, more challenging markets that require more investment.
"We've managed to do that in Singapore, where we've established a solid customer base. So we feel assured now that the Malaysian market is one in which we can launch with confidence."
He further said that the brand had observed a similar pattern in the Middle East, especially with its vegan protein products, which are now sold in major supermarket chains in the region, including Carrefour and Waitrose.
Although the firm has been doing well in Hong Kong and has its eye on China, it is taking its time to enter this particular market, as it wants to launch a full range of vitamins and supplements, as well as finalise changes to its packaging before going ahead.
Oliver said, "We're very keen to progress into China, but we want to wait until the middle of 2019 before we launch there, as we're very much focused on developing new products next year before entering new countries."