Thai triple: OptiBiotix continuing APAC expansion with exclusive Thai distribution agreement
Under the agreement, Primo will distribute and commercialise OptiBiotix's microbiome weight management product SlimBiome in Thailand, where the former distributes specialised food ingredients to manufacturers in the nutraceutical, supplement and pharmaceutical sectors.
The company has committed to purchasing a minimum of 500kg of SlimBiome within the first year of the agreement; this figure will increase tenfold to 5,000kg in the third year.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, OptiBiotix CEO Stephen O'Hara said: "To go from 500kg to 5,000kg in three years is very ambitious, and is a testament to our reputation and success in the APAC region so far."
He added that the deal would be centred around adapting SlimBiome to suit Thai tastes and preferences, in order to better help to combat the country's growing obesity problem.
"Primo will be distributing SlimBiome to its partners in Thailand to use in their finished products. While in other markets, we sell a mix of SlimBiome as an ingredient in our own finished products, the same approach won't work in Thailand.
"Our muesli pots or snack bars may not be appropriate for the Thai market, so by selling SlimBiome to companies, we are allowing them to customise the ingredient into various formulations and products that can be adapted to suit local consumers' tastes and preferences."
Apart from SlimBiome as a functional ingredient, OptiBiotix also carries GoFigure, a brand of functional snacks and foods centred around SlimBiome's satiety and weight management benefits.
At present, Primo has identified its key manufacturing partners in Thailand for SlimBiome, and is in the midst of formulating products containing the ingredient for the Thai market.
Lifting the weight
With its widespread consumption of fast food and high sugar intake making Thailand Asia's most obese nation after Malaysia, OptiBiotix saw an opportunity for SlimBiome to fill a nutrition gap in the market.
Sales and marketing director Christina Wood said that along with the country's obesity crisis, Thai consumers' general openness to dietary supplements and 'functional holistic products' had placed the firm in an advantageous position.
O'Hara said, "In Thailand, there's clearly an issue with obesity — 33% of men and 40% of women are considered obese or overweight, and we want to offer a solution that uses functionality to deal with hunger and unhealthy cravings.
"We've shown in previous studies that SlimBiome promotes satiety and healthy metabolism, maintains blood sugar levels to minimise the risk of overeating, controls food cravings, and lowers calorie intake by up to 20%."
The agreement with Primo comes shortly after OptiBiotix received approval in India from apex regulator, the Food Standards and Safety Association of India (FSSAI), to manufacture and sell SlimBiome in the country through its partner Zeon Life Sciences.
In addition to establishing OptiBiotix in India, the approval is also considered a boon to the company's wider APAC strategy.
Wood said, "Achieving FSSAI approval for the manufacturing of SlimBiome in India enables us to reach and service the increasing demand from Asian countries as part of our expanding commercialisation strategy.
"The value gained from our industry awards and clinical studies has given our products clear differentiation from other weight loss products."
O'Hara told NutraIngredients-Asia: "Our manufacturer for SlimBiome in Asia, Zeon, has helped us with their knowledge of the distributors in the different Asian markets, and which ones would benefit our business the most.
"Our biggest market is India because it's the biggest APAC country we've entered so far, but we've also gotten interest from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
"We're also keen to enter the Chinese market, but our focus remains on India for now."
In November last year, OptiBiotix entered Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines through a non-exclusive distribution deal with functional food firm CTC Group.
"We can't release any information on which companies we will be collaborating with next, but we will be launching our second phase in the Philippines soon."