Nuchev eyeing wider China distribution and adult consumers ahead of Coles launch in Australia
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Nuchev's founder and CEO Ben Dingle said, "The 300 Coles outlets we'll be launching in sell a high volume of infant formula. Initially, our stages 1 to 3 formula products will be available in Coles, before we expand this to include the stage 4 formula and goat milk powder.
"Right now, our main focus is on getting the launch underway and operational, but as the category and the Oli6 brand continue to grow very quickly, we hope it won't be long before we expand our range in Coles."
From farm to pharmacy
Previously, the Oli6 line was sold in 1,000 Chemist Warehouse outlets and 200 independent supermarkets, as part of Nuchev's strategy to first establish the brand in Australia's pharmacy channel.
Dingle explained the main reasons behind the strategy: when Oli6 was first launched, goat milk formula was not widely known or accepted, leading the firm to use the pharmacy channel to engage directly with consumers and educate them on the health benefits of Oli6.
Furthermore, Australians often visit pharmacies and seek advice from pharmacists, whom they consider their "first source of credible advice".
"This shows the brand has been enormously successful, and that category awareness has gone up as well. Oli6 is now not only the fastest growing infant formula brand in the pharmacy channel, but also the largest Australian goat milk formula brand," said Dingle.
"Now, we feel it's the right time to move into major supermarkets. We're very happy to partner with Coles, as we can now bring Oli6 to more parents. It's a clear sign that goat milk formula has become mainstream, whereas when we started, it was more niche."
According to Nielsen data, the goat milk formula segment has grown significantly over the last three years, currently accounting for 10% of total Australian formula sales and representing and annual turnover of more than A$100m.
Outside of Australia, Oli6 has seen steady growth in Nuchev's major overseas market, China. It is now the largest selling Australian goat milk formula brand on e-commerce platform TMall Global, and its third largest selling goat milk formula brand overall, behind New Zealand brand Karicare and Dutch brand Kabrita.
Together with Oli6's Australian pharmacy sales, this growth in China has led to a five-fold year-on-year increase in revenue for Nuchev.
The firm intends to continue building on this success, with wider distribution planned for China as it considers potential markets across APAC to enter.
Dingle said, "We are currently expanding our distribution footprint in China, predominantly across the major e-commerce platforms such as JD.com, Kaola, Xiaohongshu, VIP International and Onion OMALL.
"We have a strategic relationship with Tmall Global, and the expansion of our distribution channels across the key platforms in China comes on the back of category growth, as well as the successful position Oli6 has established for itself in the cross-border e-commerce channel.
"The fact we've grown so quickly is highly motivational for us, and it means we'll keep looking to increase our market share."
He added that there were "many countries" Nuchev considered potential markets. Presently, the firm is in the process of launching in Hong Kong, and is considering Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia for possible expansion.
"Our strategy when we enter a market is to serve it really well before moving into the next market, which is determined by consumer demographics, how we want to position the brand, and how we can go about all that in a systematic way," said Dingle.
"When we go into a market, we like to build the brand, which requires resources and time. We don't want to spread ourselves too thin — we want to take a measured approach and do things properly in one market, rather than do everything at once."
In terms of new product development, Nuchev intends go beyond products for infants and young children, as well as to continue improving on its goat milk formula products.
Dingle said, "We are always looking at our formulations and formats, recognising that consumer demand and preferences are always evolving.
"At the same time, health organisations in general have started to encourage consumers to buy infant formula with lower protein levels, which is deemed to be better for infants and young children, and these are things we look out for when developing our products.
"We do have other NPD processes underway, though we see a lot of room for expansion for the current range of stages 1 to 4 formula, as well as our goat milk powder. We are also developing products for seniors and pregnant mothers."