Innovation, sustainability and exports: New Melrose Health Group CEO on wealth of growth opportunities
Former BioCeuticals, Designs for Health and LifeSpace CEO Nathan Cheong took the helm in September at the family-owned firm, which also counts Orchard Manufacturing and its flagship Nu-Lax brand, alongside Melrose products in its stable.
As well as dominating the Australian laxative / digestive health category, Nu-Lax is also the number one brand in the same cross-border e-commerce sector in China, while Melrose also has a presence in Japan and a small number of other export markets.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, Cheong said that growing exports would be a key objective, but stressed that this would be driven by a strong domestic presence and a relentless focus on innovation.
“Innovation is going to be absolutely key to everything we do,” he said, “and the great thing about the Melrose brand is that we have permission to play across a wide range of healthy conditions and product formats.”
Melrose has traditionally been strong in MCT and omega oils, as well as legacy immunity products containing vitamin C.
It also has powdered blends, ‘kitchen staples’ such as coconut oils, plus functional vinegar products.
“When you look at the ranges we have there is a lot of opportunity both in a nutritional, and I guess what we could call a culinary sense,” he added.
“I think given our digestive health experience we can tap into the microbiome trend, while we can also hit the functional food space a lot harder.
“Likewise, we are well placed to further explore the whole nootropic and cognitive health areas of interest, as well as how the MCT range can support some of the trends we are seeing around intermittent fasting.”
Cheong is currently recruiting to strengthen the research and development team, and has already made a number of senior hires.
In terms of exports, he wants to replicate the two brands’ strength in Australia across the region, with a particular focus on Korea and Vietnam, where talks are taking place with distributor, as well as building on its presence in Japan.
“We’ll also be looking at Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore,” he added. “However, I think it’s really important we take a strategic approach to all of the markets we are looking at, and understand that different products will probably be better suited to different markets.”
Closer to home, Cheong also wants to build on sustainability initiatives, and is working on plans to achieve full traceability throughout the supply chain.
He also wants to embark on a carbon neutral strategy, as well as sourcing as many Australian raw materials as possible.
“I also think there is a lot more opportunity to explore the use of Australian indigenous ingredients, which is something of a missed opportunity at the minute. We see a lot of the D2C and social commerce brands leading the way here, but we need to better understand what we have on the doorstep because they are nutrient rich and could have huge benefits.”