Alibaba inspiration: Forbidden Foods develops walnut and macadamia oil fortified with algal omega-3 based on e-commerce trends

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

FUNCH's walnut oil and macadamia oil fortified with algal omega-3. © Forbidden Foods
FUNCH's walnut oil and macadamia oil fortified with algal omega-3. © Forbidden Foods

Related tags Alibaba omega-3 e-commerce China

ASX-listed firm Forbidden Foods has launched a range of walnut/macadamia oil fortified with algal omega-3 in China and Australia based on consumer trends seen on major e-commerce platform Alibaba Tmall.

Launched under the brand FUNCH, the new products consist of walnut oil fortified with algal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) oil in a 50ml dropper format or a 250ml bottle, and the same formats are available for the macadamia oil.

The oil could be added to cereals, cooked grains, cooked mashed vegetables, and salads, but the dropper version is specially designed for parents to add to the meals of their babies age six months and above, while the 250ml bottle version is meant for family consumption.

All products contain 2.5 per cent of algal DHA oil and 97.5 per cent of either walnut oil or macadamia oil. 

funch dropper walnut oil
FUNCH's dropper walnut oil

However, there is a difference in the amount of DHA available in the walnut and macadamia oil.

Every 100ml of walnut oil contains 933mg of algal DHA while every 100ml of macadamia oil contains a higher amount of algal DHA at 947mg. 

The products, sold in China and Australia via e-commerce since May, were said to be formulated in conjunction with and based on market research data from Alibaba.

The company told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that both China and Australia have shown a trend towards plant-based, meat-free, and organic food products, alongside healthier eating habits, and these were areas in line with its business strategies.

This was also the view of market-leading nutrition companies such as H&H, which said​ that China, Australia, together with Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan, would be the key markets for plant-based food opportunities.

Globally, the plant-based edible oil market is estimated to be worth over US$96bn annually and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5 per cent, according to a report by Research and Markets.

“Developing the range of FUNCH edible oils was an exciting opportunity for the Forbidden Foods team to incorporate trends from overseas into a new product category.

“The growing mainstream appeal for plant-based products is driving expansion into more market categories, and the use of plant-based oil in the baby seasoning category will deliver significant upside within the mature edible oil sector,” ​product manager Lisa Bourne said.

While the products do not make front-of-the-pack health claims, the brand website highlighted that the algal DHA oil could play a role in cognitive and vision development. 

Vietnam debut 

On the other hand, Forbidden Foods also recently debut in Vietnam via an exclusive agreement with AusCom International, which will distribute products from its infant and toddler nutrition brand FUNCH in the country.

AusCom International specialises in distributing Australian products and has experience distributing products from Blackmores, a2 milk and Fonterra in Vietnam. 

"We have hit the ground running, having already launched our FUNCH Vietnam website, FUNCH Vietnam Shopee store, FUNCH Vietnam Facebook page and the first order of FUNCH baby foods has already been ordered and delivered to AusCom, with a second purchase order secured.

"Vietnam has a population of over 97 million people and a fast-growing middle class with a desire to feed their families healthy and nutritious food, making it a large and attractive market for FUNCH,"​ Forbidden Foods co-founder and chief operating officer Jarrod Milani said. 

The company said it would continue to build its e-commerce presence by enhancing its fulfilment capabilities, increasing brand awareness, optimising websites, and pursuing distribution partnerships within the Asian markets.

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