BuyNatural is a unit of the Reach Group, a company which assists Australian businesses in promoting and selling their products locally and overseas – especially in China.
The site launched 10 products from Wellgrove in March, ranging from capsules to liquid oral supplements of different flavours, such as green apple and berry.
The key active ingredient in the products is olefresh – an olive leaf extract that is extracted using proprietary methods – and the products are said to reduce free radicals from forming in the body. It has been used in traditional western herbal medicine to relieve the symptoms of common colds, flu, and supporting the immune system.
According to a study published in Nutrients last year, researchers from New Zealand found that olive leaf extract could reduce the duration of upper respiratory infections as seen in a randomised controlled trial involving 32 high school students.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, founder of Reach Group, Dr Mathew McDougall, said that there has been heightened interest in immune boosting products within Australia from late February, when the spread of COVID-19 was becoming more prevalent in the country.
He said that in Australia, there has been about 500% increase in online sales of hygiene products such as handwash, sanitisers, and face masks last month, as well as heightened interest in supplements.
“Consumers wanted to buy vitamins, mostly vitamin D, but there were some difficulties in getting the products, because supermarkets and pharmacies were running out of stock, and people were looking for alternatives to that,” he said.
“People certainly did not even think about using olive leaf extract as an alternative. But because they saw it on our website, that we were talking about it on the social media, or because they did their own research, they started to recognise that there is an opportunity to use this product for improving the immunity.”
Dr McDougall added that consumers tend to buy a variety of products when visiting his sites. However, due to the shortage of certain products and supply chain disruptions, this is having a knock-on effect for consumer deliveries.
For example, when it comes to hand sanitisers, Dr McDougall said that the company’s partnered suppliers have ran out of packaging bottles, ingredients, labels etc, which in turn impacted the company’s ability to send out such products to consumers in time.
“For the olive leaf extract supplement, we are fortunate that we do not have any supply issue. We have lots of stocks and can deliver them very quickly.
“The problem comes when the consumers order olive leaf extract and something else that we do not have a supply of, it holds up the shipment and order, or we got to send the products in two parts.”
In terms of sending the products to China’s consumers, he said that while China has started to get back on track, there was now challenge in sending the products out from Australia.
“In February, the challenge was in China, almost nothing got through and we got a bit nervous, There was still air traffic into China, but the products got into the warehouse and could not be distributed. Now, the problem is in Australia, since post out of Australia is impacted by freight restrictions.”
As for Australia, he said that with the vast majority of the population working from home, all e-commerce platforms were seeing “massive growth”.
For his sites, he said that the growth in the first quarter was up most likely 300% to 400% in the number of online ordering received as compared to the same period last year, driven by the sales of hygiene products.
He forecasted that for the upcoming quarter, the growth would be about 200% as supported by the sales of both hygiene and wellness products.
Moving forward, he said that the BuyNatural site would be looking to sell products that were highly sought after, including immune-boosting health foods, mother-and-baby products, as well as natural, organic produces.