H&H on plant-based nutrition: Swisse to launch more vegan supplements while infant brands tap growing trend

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

H&H is expanding its plant-based initiatives across its health and nutrition brands. ©Getty Images
H&H is expanding its plant-based initiatives across its health and nutrition brands. ©Getty Images

Related tags: vegan, H&H Group, Infant formula, swisse, plant-based

Nutrition giant H&H has said it will continue to develop more plant-based products for its dietary supplements and infant formula categories across different brands, with the firm believing consumers are increasingly looking for more sustainable solutions.

An upcoming new launch is a vegan collagen under the Swisse brand as well as plant-based immunity supplements.

“The plant-based strategy aligns with our overall sustainability strategy in two ways. Firstly, consumers are choosing a plant-based diet for health reasons and they might be choosing a plant-based formula for their babies due to allergies,” ​Sarah Chibnall, Group Director, Communications and Sustainability told NutraIngredients-Asia.

Within the first three months of this year, the Hong Kong-listed company has launched new plant-based products under its children nutrition brand Good Gout and Swisse Me in the UK.

For example, Good Gout has launched a series of plant-based yogurts and snacks. 

Good Gout vegan products

The product Vegan Yoghurt with Spelt, Apple, and Peach, is made from organic apple, lemon juice, peaches, and spelt -a type of grain related to wheat.

“In Q1 this year, the main two brands [from H&H] that have been active in this plant-based space is Swisse Me in the UK and Good Gout in France,” ​Chibnall said.

As for the brand Swisse Me, it has launched vegan multivitamin and beauty nutrition gummies in the UK.

The vegan multivitamin uses pectin, a plant-based gelling agent, to replace gelatine. Key nutrients include vitamins A, D, C, E, B6, B12, niacin, and biotin.

Similarly, its Hair Skin & Nail Beauty gummies uses pectin as a gelling agent. Key nutrients include vitamins C, E, selenium, biotin, and hyaluronic acid.

“Plant-based foods are very trendy these days and might become a big part of our diet,”​ she said, adding that 46 per cent of the world’s population is adopting a flexitarian diet – which consists of mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation.

H&H is also partnering Israel-based plant-based infant and toddler formulafirm Else Nutrition​ in distributing its products into markets such as Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong.

Also a non-soy product, the toddler formula is made with almond, buckwheat, and tapioca.

The company has also developed plant-based omega-3 supplements under the Swisse brand via a partnership with cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp specialist Bod Australia.

Examples of the products include hemp seed oil softgel capsules​ rich in omega-3 and 6. 

swisse hemp seed oil
Swisse's hemp seed oil softgel capsules

Why consumers want it

Consumers are choosing plant-based supplements due to an array of reasons, ranging from avoiding allergic reactions to a desire to feel better.

Citing a Euromonitor report, Chibnall said 41 per cent of the consumers said in 2019 that a plant-based diet made them feel better.

Amongst China consumers, plant-based diets also meet their desire to reduce meat consumption.

Other factors at play include animal welfare and reducing carbon emissions to protect the environment.

Chibnall said that Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and China were the key markets for plant-based food opportunities.

We will certainly be looking at markets where the plant-based opportunities are the biggest,” ​she said.  

Challenges

A key challenge of making plant-based products, according to Chibnall, is the speed to market.  

“One of the biggest challenges for making plant-based supplements is the speed in getting products to market.

Swiss Me Vegan protein

“A lot of work is being done at the moment to convert products that are conventionally an animal-based product into a plant-based product…[And] a lot of clinical testing needs to be conducted to have a certain claim, or a product needs to be registered with the new formulation,” ​she said.

NAD+ initiatives

H&H is also expanding Swisse’s healthy ageing product line with the use of nicotinamide riboside (NR).

In late April, H&H and Chromadex from the US signed a strategic supply agreement.

This provides H&H with rights to Chromadex’s patented NR ingredient known as Niagen when developing new products under the Swisse brand.

The NR ingredient is said to increase the body’s nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), which Chromadex said has benefits for healthy ageing.

NAD+ booster products became wildly popular especially in China last year. Aside from NR, ​many companies have also used the nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) ingredient​ to boost the body’s NAD+ levels.

Increasing the body’s NAD+ levels is said to provide healthy ageing benefits.

“We are impressed by the clinical evidence and the team that sits behind Niagen®. We look forward to working together to explore product development and provide our health-conscious consumers with many health benefits that will come from the leading NAD+​ boosting nutrient,”​ said H&H Group Executive Director and CEO Laetitia Garnier.

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