Seizing opportunities: ATP Science branches into FMCG nutrition and practitioner-only supplement space

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

ATP Science has launched a high protein, low calorie, low sugar ice-cream under the Noway brand. ©ATP Science
ATP Science has launched a high protein, low calorie, low sugar ice-cream under the Noway brand. ©ATP Science

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Australian health and nutrition company ATP Science is branching into the FMCG space with the launch of a range of high protein, low calorie, low sugar ice-cream, plus venturing into practitioner-only supplements for gut health.

The company, which has been specialising in sports performance and general health nutrition in the past decade with its Alpha series and Gut Right, aims to introduce six new products under its practitioner-only portfolio by the end of this year. The practitioner-only products will include pre/post-biotic formulas containing polyphenols.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Jeff Doidge, managing director at ATP Science, believes that it an opportune time for the company to speed up its new product development and launch process.

The company recently received government funding valued at over AUD$755k (US$573k) to support its high functional protein bar project and another AUD$1.58m (US$1.2m) for its gummy project.

Aside from funding, the company believes that there is reduced market competition when launching new products at the moment.

“COVID-19 has slowed down NPD for many companies. A lot of companies have been very circumspect about spending too much money into producing new lines and launching new products.

“We have been continuing to use this time to develop our new products and over the next six months, we have a whole suite of products coming out, not just in fast moving consumables, but also we have a plant protein that’s coming out, we have been working hard towards a plant-based protein that is not chalky, something unique.”

In end-January, the company launched its first line of fast consumables nutrition products in the form of an ice-cream under its Noway brand. This portfolio will focus on functional foods that are low in sugar, calories, high in protein, and cater to the everyday athletics.

The ice-cream, for example, has received five-star health rating – the highest rating from Australia’s national Health Star Rating System.  

Noway ice-cream 2
The Noway ice-cream has a Health Star Rating of five.

This portfolio will complement the company’s existing products for sports and performance and supplements for general wellbeing.

“We want to bring a broader appeal to our products. 

“In the general market, the trends are showing that everyday consumers and everyday athletes, people who are going to the gym or to yoga and those who might be exercising two or three times a week want to try and incorporate more of these kind of ‘better-for- you’ treats into their diet.”

“I think this is a massive growing market…The everyday athlete, people are becoming more aware of what role nutrition plays in their diet, they understand [the importance of] reducing sugars.

“They are looking for healthier options that are going to support the nutrition changes that they want to make without having to sacrifice all of the taste, and that is what our Noway sub-brand is all about.”

The ice-cream products are currently sold in brick-and-mortar specialty nutrition stores, such as Go Vita, Fit Nutrition, Elite Health Supplements, My Supplement Store, and Power Supps.

Protein bars and gummies

In addition, the company is in the midst of preparing for its factory production of its protein bars and functional gummies that contain high protein, fibre, and less sugar with no colours and preservatives.

The protein bars, launched under the Noway brand, are expected to enter the market in September and gummies in first quarter of next year.

Currently, the company already has a facility for manufacturing powder products, such as collagen. As for its supplements, production is outsourced to third-party contract manufacturer.

To produce its functional protein bars and gummies, the company has acquired a new facility with a size of 5,000sqm – this is five times the size of its current facility. This will also allow the company to ramp up its production for overseas markets such as the US and APAC.

Australia’s retail sales of functional food breakfast cereals and snack bars were boosted due to COVID-19 last year, said an Euromonitor report released in February.

Asia, US expansion

The company, which is backed by Hong Kong-based private equity firm Cortina Capital since February last year, is now seeking to expand in the US and Asia.

Cortina Capital is co-founded by Dennis Lin, who is also the chairman of Bubs Australia. The company has been targeting Australian health and wellness brands that have the potential to export to Asia.

In Asia, the company is planning to enter the Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan market by this year, specifically via brick-and-mortar retail.

As for the US, the company will conduct a product relaunch from the second half of this year, after its first market venture in 2015.

“We first started selling product into the US market at around 2015, a very, very small, direct to consumer retail. We didn't find a major channel to market until last year.

“And of course, COVID just completely put all of our plans on hold…We're going back into the market the second half of this year,”​ Doidge said. 

He intends to launch products from the Alpha Series, Gut Right, as well as Noway protein bars.

With the aggressive new product launches and market expansion in the pipeline, the company is expecting to grow its team from the current 42 to 80.

Most of the new hires will be required in the area of customer service, sales, quality control and assurance, food technicians, factory operations and logistics. 

“It is a very strange time now. There is going to be a huge opportunity going forward for companies that can position themselves well, so the trick is not overreaching yourself and at the same time as you can't be too slow.

“It's all about timing and evaluating the science and knowing when to actually go forward.”

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