Atopic allergies focus: Practitioner-brand Activated Probiotics to expand range with asthma and acne products
Its probiotic targeted at acne is expected to launch in Q1 next year.
At the moment, the company already has nine product SKUs addressing a range of health concerns.
They include enhancing the immune system, promoting healthy digestion, to more complex issues such as supporting healthy mood balance, enhancing sleep quality, and even promoting bone health in adults.
Since April, the company witnessed a 30% month-on-month sales growth, founder and COO Blair Norfolk told NutraIngredients-Asia, with its ‘Biome Daily Probiotic’ for enhancing immune function and digestion becoming its bestseller.
"[As a practitioner-only brand], our products are not available for self selection in the pharmacies. This new style of retail has grown momentum...where practitioner brands have grown more than 30% a month, especially in our case," Norfolk said, adding that practitioner-only products were highly trusted by consumers since they came with the recommendation of a health professional or a medical KOL.
Aside from immune and digestive health, mental and sleep wellness is also at the top of consumers’ minds, which in turn made the firm's mood and sleep supporting product, ‘Biome Lift Probiotic’ the second bestseller.
“This is a very interesting topic, because the global community is struggling right now with stress, anxiety, with sleep,” he said.
Asked the reason for focusing the firm’s NPD on acne and asthma, he explained that that was in line with most of its existing products, as their effects came from modulating the immune system.
“Seventy percent of the immune cells are in the gut…Patients with an overactive immune system typically have atopic disposition, which includes allergies, asthma, hay fever.
“We currently have a product, Biome Breathe, which works by down-regulating an immune system that was misfiring, so it’s a natural progression for us to start looking at asthma, because it’s the same type of atopic allergic condition.”
Similarly, for acne, he explained that the condition was closely related to the immune system, and hence, it is a logical move to correct problems in the immune system, instead of using only topical applications.
Building on this concept, the company in fact has plans to explore the association between autoimmunology and probiotics.
“It’s a very complex area, but it is logical that probiotics may have some potential future applications for autoimmune.”
Current trials: Bone and mood
To date, the company has at least 15 clinical trials completed on its products.
Norfolk said these trials were all randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials which took place in Italy, Sweden, and Australia itself.
The company is currently supporting a number of clinical trials. Of research interest are products such as Biome Osteo – a bone health product – and Biome Lift – a psychobiotic product.
A previous trial on Biome Osteo showed that the intake of three proprietary strains lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 9 (DSM15312), lactobacillus plantarum HEAL 19 (DSM 15313), lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 (DSM 13434) could protect against lumbar spine bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women.
The company is also supporting a clinical trial on its Biome Lift product, with individuals with subthreshold depression as the test subjects.
“We are getting more and more data on the product so as to start speaking to doctors and psychiatrists about recommending this product as a frontline management tool for mental health,” he said.
On the recent sales boom, the success largely came from the pharmacy channels, which the company sees as its key distribution channel in Australia.
“In the last six months, the company is growing at 30% month-on-month. A lot of that is because our strategy is focused on education when the other brands in Australia and China, I think, are more focused on marketing,” Norfolk said.
Its latest pharmacy retail partner is TerryWhite Chemmart, which has about 450 outlets nationwide.
It also launched its products in the Capital Chemist Group and Advantage Group in the last two months, bringing the number of pharmacies that carries its probiotics to over 1,000.
At present, its practitioner-only products are also sold online and consumers can have direct access to the products. According to Norfolk, this is a temporary measure to encourage social distancing.
With a stronger presence in pharmacies, the company has sets sights on distributing its products via clinics from next year.
“We have been very focused on pharmacies in Australia up until this point, and in Q1 next year, we are looking to enter the practitioner market.
“Our core focus right now is on exhausting growth in Australia, which we are getting close to, and then the UK and China,” he said.
Norfolk revealed that the firm had been approached by two leading UK practitioner-only product distributors and would be supplying its products to about 20,000 practitioners.
“We have a lot of online orders and it trickled though the network to the largest distributor in the UK,” he said.
Last month, it also launched a Chinese language site to reach out to the China market.
In addition, it is setting up a Tmall and Taobao flagship stores, as well as professional daigous who will begin product distribution in China in Q1 next year.
At present, it is only selling into China via its own website. However, with the boost in distribution channels, he hoped to increase the share of the business coming from China to increase to 50%.
“But it will be more about organic growth, we are not trying to force our way into China,” he said, adding that he hoped to provide products that target key health issues in China.
The long-term goal, he added, was to work with a partner that could manage brick-and-mortar distribution.
“We understand that the online market is growing dramatically but we want to be able to supply our products to small towns all around China where local people can get access to, that's our long-term goal for China.”
As for the other parts of APAC, the company is planning to enter key markets in the first half of next year.
Countries on the list include South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, and India – via the brick-and-mortar retail channel.