Size matters: Tom Oliver Nutrition seeks to 'fill APAC gap' with easy-to-swallow premium vitamins
Launched in Singapore at Holland & Barrett stores on April 5, the vegan-friendly line of capsules, tablets and soft-gels include vitamin D and K2, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, probiotics, magnesium and curcumin, as well as a repackaged version of the brand's signature omega-3 herring caviar.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, founder Tom Oliver said: "We're just in the process of registering our products in China, so hopefully, they will be available within the next three months on Tmall. We're also reorganising our relationship with our distributor DKSH in Hong Kong, and we hope they'll be in Malaysia within a year as well."
As more companies have been specialising and targeting growing sectors, why has a company known for its more specialised products moved into traditional commodity territory in an already saturated vitamin market with low margins?
The simple answer, Oliver says, is that there is still a lot to do in the vitamin space, and not enough premium, high-quality manufacturing to achieve what is necessary.
"What we've learnt from our research is that customers still don't want to take their vitamins because many companies are still making them too large and inconvenient to consume.
"We've also learnt from our omega-3 herring caviar product that customers like it because it's smaller and easy to swallow, and they only have to take one a day, so we produced a range of products that are exactly that, making them accessible to all populations, including younger children and older adults.
"We're not trying to compete with the mass market — we are a premium brand, so we have to provide consumers with high-quality vitamins they can rely on.
"The market is maturing, so if you put out a vitamin range, you must be confident that what you've put in them is of a high quality that will offer real benefits to customers, so they can appreciate paying a premium for a higher quality product."
To achieve this, Tom Oliver Nutrition focused on absorption and ingredient compatibility for its vitamin range.
Its probiotic capsules, for instance, use Sabinsa's LactoSpore ingredient, which is said to be clinically validated as shelf-stable, containing a L(+) lactic acid-producing microbial preparation from Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856.
For its vitamin D+K2 tablets, the company combined vitamins D3 and K2 to direct vitamin D to areas of the body such as bones, where it could be better absorbed and more useful.
Similarly, its curcumin capsules were developed based on research that showed curcumin to be far better absorbed when combined with piperine.
In addition, the company employed a micro-compression and micro-encapsulation technique, along with the use of suitable binding agents, to ensure the RDIs for each vitamin could be contained in one small capsule, tablet or soft-gel.
More is not more
With the new range, Oliver also hopes to dispel the myth that 'more is more' when it comes to vitamin and mineral intake.
Referring to the practices in the industry as a "huge marketing exercise" that leads consumers to believe 'more is better', he said, "This is a big problem in the vitamin category that is being fuelled by cheaper, low-quality products (whose makers want to bump up sales). They tell consumers that the more they get, the better it is for their health.
"We're not trying to do that. For instance, we don't want to tell people that the more vitamin D they get, the better — that's rubbish. You don't need extremely high quantities of these products; that would actually be detrimental to your health.
"It's almost a dog fight among brands to have the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals in their products, but this doesn't help the consumer at all.”
According to Oliver, Tom Oliver Nutrition follows the RDI (recommended daily intake) guidelines in Australia, the US, the UK and Europe, which are 'very much lower' than what some companies recommend to their customers.
Oliver said, "If you drink one glass of wine, it's good for your health. If you drink three bottles, you're going to have a nasty hangover. I could say the same for hamburgers — if you eat one, you'll get nutrition in the form of protein and fibre. But if you eat 10, you'll probably feel terrible and get fat very quickly.
"So why aren't we applying the same logic to vitamins? More is not more. We don't believe you need more than 600mg a day to be healthy."