Offline kick: Arborvitae’s joint health product enjoying Australia pharmacy boost thanks to clinical trial findings

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Arborvitae's range of liquid health supplements. ©Arborvitae
Arborvitae's range of liquid health supplements. ©Arborvitae

Related tags Australia retail channels Clinical trial

Australian dietary supplement firm Arborvitae has received a bumper deal with domestic pharmacy chain TerryWhite Chemmart for its joint health liquid supplement, with retailers’ interest in the product rising amid favourable consumer feedback and clinical trial results, the company said.

Two of the firm’s supplements – Arborvitae Joint Health and Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing Supplement (blood glucose and cholesterol) – will be available in all TerryWhite Chemmart stores. The pharmacy chain has over 450 stores across Australia.

Prior to the deal, Arborvitae’s products were available in about 130 TerryWhite Chemmart stores, which are mostly the bigger stores. The new deal allows its products to be sold in the community pharmacies as well.

“We published the clinical trial findings of our joint health product last year and more retailers have been asking to stock our product. I suppose we had sort of a kick up in demand because of this,” ​Brendan Howell, director of Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing, told NutraIngredients-Asia. ​ 

The 12-week clinical study​ found that the joint health product could increase the walking distance, lower blood oxidative stress, and reduce the use of rescue medications in individuals suffering from knee osteoarthrosis. The results were also posted on the company’s website.

Active ingredients used in the product include French maritime pine bark extract trademarked Pycnogenol, as well as aloe vera, the enzyme papain, and honey.

In total, the product is stocked in close to 1,200 stores, including Blooms The Chemist, Mr Vitamins, Priceline Pharmacy, and Optimal Pharmacy Plus. 

In fact, the joint health product is the company’s key sales contributor.

Howell said total revenue was up 35 per cent between June 2020 and June this year, of which 75 per cent of the sales came from the joint health product.

From online to offline

In contrast to the trend of going online these days, the brand has been shifting its focus from online to offline.

The brand started in 2014 and only sold its products online. However, it subsequently gained interest from health foods stores and pharmacies and ventured into offline channels from there.

In 2016, it worked with its first offline sales partner – a Priceline Pharmacy store in Sydney.

The focus on offline retail was mainly because its key consumers were the middle-aged and elderly groups, Howell explained.

“It’s the people in their 50s who are buying the joint health product. They might have played sports in the past and some have suffered from osteoarthritis as a result.  

“Similarly, its also the older folks who are 50 and above with elevated cholesterol, blood glucose level, and pre-diabetic who are buying the health and wellbeing supplement. 

“These consumers like to walk into the pharmacies and speak with the pharmacists.”

The next goal is to expand its retail presence into 1,500 stores by year-end, despite the spread of COVID-19 bringing about movement restrictions.

“We are fortunate that our products are sold in the health food stores and pharmacies and there has been no decline in sales, because these stores are still operating even in times of emergency.”

As for online, the products are sold on the company’s website and eBay and shipped within Australia and New Zealand. He said that online sales have picked up slightly.

Vietnam’s prospect

Overseas, the company is concentrating its efforts in Vietnam and Japan by exporting its joint health supplement.

“We have a partner in Vietnam and have been working with them in the last 18 months. At the moment, we are sending in small volumes to trial in the hospitals and amongst the doctors.

“The [exports to Vietnam] had slowed down because of COVID-19 and we are expecting that to ramp up towards the end of this year,” ​Howell said.

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