Ginseng multivits: Personalised nutrition brand ‘Ori by Imagene Labs’ forays into immune space

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Ori by Imagene labs' has launched a number of health supplements targeted at strengthening the immune system, including a ginseng multi-vitamins blend.
'Ori by Imagene labs' has launched a number of health supplements targeted at strengthening the immune system, including a ginseng multi-vitamins blend.

Related tags: Singapore, COVID-19, Vitamins

Singapore-based personalised nutrition firm Imagene Labs has forayed into the immune health space with a number of new launches, including a ginseng vitamin blend plus a DNA test which looks at one's genetic tendencies for nutritional deficiencies.

The three new supplements launched are Ori Immune Fortify Supplement Blend containing vitamins, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and curcumin; Ori Immune Fortify Premium Supplement Blend enhanced with ginseng; and Ori Immune Fortify Kids Supplement Blend.

They will add on to the firm’s existing personalised fitness, nutrition, and longevity powder supplement range.

Founder and MD Dr Wong Mun Yew said that the launch was in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of product differentiation, he said the firm had added curcumin and ginseng to tap on the ingredients’ antioxidant properties. This also provides a 2-in-1 solution for consumers who already have a habit of taking ginseng and vitamins from separate products.

GM Har Jia Yi said the new product development process began in January, as soon as news of COVID-19 broke.  

Dosage amounts and bioavailability are some of the other key considerations for the company during the product development phase. 

“We want to make something that is effective for people, so we try to go to the maximum point of the permitted levels but we are also balancing it with the amount that one can absorb,”​ she added.

Examples include the use of magnesium orotate, a more bioavailable but more expensive version of magnesium, instead of magnesium oxide in the products. 

The new immune health supplements are sold online but Dr Wong revealed that the firm was in talks with pharmacies and affiliated marketing in selling the products.

DNA test ​ 

The company also launched OriVIT Lite Immunity, which is a DNA test consisting of 10 insights into one’s genetic tendencies for nutritional deficiencies linked to the immune system.   

“It is an extension of the nutrition and diet DNA test which we already have,” ​Har said, adding that this allows consumers to take a more targeted approach towards vitamin consumption.

The price of the test is SGD$155 and Dr Wong believes it will appeal to consumers who are highly conscious about their health.

“I think if you are someone who is very worried and conscious about whether you are deficient in certain vitamins, you may perhaps want to figure that out.

“This is because a lot of the multivitamins sold in the pharmacies may not contain sufficient amounts of a particular vitamin that you are lacking in,” ​he said.

Sharpening data set

To sharpen the analysis of consumers’ genetic data, the company has developed and patented their bioinformatics analysis software system which includes genetic data from the world’s five main ethnicities.

They are Caucasians, East Asians, South Asians, (Latin) American, and Africans, this represents about 85% of the earth's population. 

Doing so ensures a more accurate gene analysis for customers with different ancestry backgrounds.

“If you don’t compare your genes dataset within your own ethnic group, the results may be less accurate.

"For example, in vitamin B12 deficiency risk, East Asians have approximately 13.5% of the population at high risk of genetic pre-disposition for deficiency; while Europeans have almost double the risk with 25.5% of the population at the same high-risk group,”​ Dr Wong said. 

The company has been using the proprietary bioinformatics analysis software system for all its genetic analysis services since the start of January 2020.

Consumers who have already completed a genetic test with other firms can also submit their raw genetic data to Imagene Labs to undergo such analysis.

Aside from this particular DNA test, the company also offers DNA tests for seven other areas, such as fitness and sports performance, skin and beauty, nutrition and diet, healthy ageing, children’s talent and health, personality, and allergy.

New business deals

Within Asia, Hong Kong is the company's biggest market while Indonesia is catching up on the personalised nutrition trend.

In Hong Kong, the company has seen a higher uptake for genetic testing in fitness and sports performance and children's talent and health. 

But with a number of new deals coming up in the West, Dr Wong foresees that the European and US markets will make up 50% of the firm’s business. 

The potential deals include a partnership with a German firm with market presence in four European markets as well as a company based in the US. 

“If we announce that (the US partnership), that will be a very interesting new channel for us, it is something we wouldn’t have embarked on in Singapore,”​ he said.

By the end of this year, he expects to announce partnerships with one or two major international nutrition and skincare brands.

Since last year, the firm has been working with ONI Global​ - GNC’s sole franchisee in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, where the genetic test kits that it has developed are sold in all GNC and Xndo stores in Singapore.

Personalisation to see strong growth post-COVID

The firm has declined to reveal its yoy growth, but said business has started to pick up after dipping in the last few months due to disruptions from COVID-19.

“We are certainly affected by COVID-19 in the last few months,​ the ​revenue has dropped quite a bit. 

“But what's interesting is that since end-May till now, we are starting to see renewed interest,”​ Dr Wong said.

Some reasons are because these commercial partners, including clinics, are hoping to strengthen their portfolio.

“A lot of them are looking at the post-COVID era and considering what they have to do to win back consumers and revenue,”​ he said.

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