Long-term vision: Vitality Wellness spots growing demand for eye health supplement in ageing population, eyes reformulation opportunities
The firm’s eye health supplement, made from New Zealand blackcurrant (288mg), bilberry (10mg), lutein (10mg), zeaxanthin (2mg) amongst others was first launched in 2018 in New Zealand, mainly through online channels.
“New Zealand has generally an older population, and people are using the eye health supplement to stop vision deterioration including macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness,” said Michael Dunsire, director of greater Asia at Vitality Wellness.
The supplement also claims to combat diabetic retinopathy, relieve cataract symptoms and lessen the effects of glaucoma.
The main functional ingredient is the New Zealand blackcurrant known for its high anthocyanin, antioxidant, and essential fatty acids level.
In a randomised placebo-controlled study by Ohguro H et al (2012) published in Ophthalmologica, consumption of blackcurrant anthocyanins (50mg/day) for two years increased ocular blood flow and slows down the progression of glaucoma.
Another study by the same author published in the Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 2013 found that supplementation with blackcurrant anthocyanins (50mg/day) for four weeks could reduce intraocular pressure in healthy people and people with glaucoma. High eye pressure levels is a risk factor for eye diseases like glaucoma.
According to Dunsire, blackcurrant can support blood flow, which can help with dark circles, and reduce visual fatigue following prolonged exposure to computer screens.
Vitality Wellness said its eye health supplement is not limited to people with eye conditions, counting school children, young adults and older adults as consumers. “Even if you've got normal vision, it can help to maintain normal vision.”
This year, the company is hoping to grow sales by 10 to 15% in New Zealand.
Singapore and potential markets
Vitality Wellness launched the eye health supplement in Singapore in 2020, through medical practitioners, the Unity pharmacy chain as well as online channels.
Similarly, the firm has observed growing sales, again owing it to the rapidly ageing population.
Currently, its eye health supplement accounts for 15 to 20% of its total sales in New Zealand, while 10 to 15% in Singapore.
New Zealand and Singapore are currently the two markets that the company has a physical presence.
Apart from that, the company has sold the eye health supplement to consumers in UK, US and Japan through its New Zealand online website.
Dunsire told us it was eyeing Japan as a potential market to enter, where research on antioxidants associated to eye health is huge and hopes to work with partners there.
Another market of interest is China, which it hopes to enter through cross-border e-commerce.
Vitality Wellness supplies its own New Zealand blackcurrant ingredient.
“We hire contract growers, and make it into extracts according to our specification,” Dunsire said.
The bilberry is also sourced in New Zealand, while others like Vitamin A Palmitate (250 mcg), lutein and zeaxanthin are sourced from China and Europe.
According to Dunsire, one of the upcoming ingredients in the eye health space is astaxanthin.
He said Vitality Wellness is exploring reformulating its eye health supplement in the future, by substituting zeaxanthin with astaxanthin.
For Vitality Wellness, its omega-3, women, brain, eye, and immunity health supplements are the most popular, so the firm will work on enhancing the formulations and making them more applicable to the demands from the consumers.
For instance, its collagen supplement called complexion was targeted for skin health. However, the company is considering reformulating it to develop a more well-rounded product (women health) for beauty-from-within, “Because that's quite popular at the moment, especially in Asia,” Dunsire said.
“We started this brand in New Zealand and they were initially tailored towards more than New Zealand market.
“As we begin to become more popular in Singapore and Asia, we need to take into account other countries and customer base. So, then we need to tailor the product accordingly.”
Vitality’s Omega Health supplement was awarded the Omega-3 Product of the Year at the NutraIngredients-Asia awards 2020.