Supplements for supermarkets: Australia’s Renovatio develops Woolworths’ exclusive mental wellbeing supplement

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A picture showing the canned foods section in a supermarket. ©Getty Images
A picture showing the canned foods section in a supermarket. ©Getty Images

Related tags Mental health Sleep stress

New South Wales-based Renovatio Bioscience is expanding its supplement SKUs in supermarket chain Woolworths, with the company recently launching mental wellbeing and skin health supplements exclusively for the chain.

Renovatio is best known for its An Apple a Day tablet​ supplement containing activated phenolics – a proprietary antioxidant formula developed and extracted from Australia-farmed apples. The product was first launched in two years ago in Woolworths.

Last month, the company launched two other supplement products that are Woolworths exclusive in 1,000 Woolworths outlets.

Together with its new skin care product APSKIN Ultra Serum, the launch of the two supplements in Woolworths is worth around AUD$20m (US$14.5m) in value.

Known as Renovatio Mental Resilience and Renovatio Skin Remedy, the two new supplements aim to support mental wellbeing and skin health. Both products come in the chewable format and are taken only once per day. 

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​founder of Renovatio, Dr. Vincent Candrawinata believes that there is growth potential for health supplements in the supermarket channel, even for products that target specific areas, beyond the usual vitamin and mineral products.

Renovatio range of products
Renovatio's range of products

A reason is because COVID-19 has increased the uptake of dietary supplements and consumers have started to purchase supplements as part of their grocery shopping routine.

Some supermarkets have also expanded the store size of the supplements section.

“I do think that there’s growth opportunities in health and wellness products in supermarkets. I think that there’s an appeal in consumers being able to pick up supplements while buying their groceries.

“Being present in supermarkets also helps our products to be accessible to the market,” ​he said.

At the same time, making supplements for mental wellbeing available in supermarkets could help to open up the conversation and destigmatise issues around mental wellbeing.

We are probably one of the first selling supplements that help with mild anxiety in the supermarkets. Our underlying message to our consumers is that it is okay to look for help when they need it for their mental wellbeing. 

Obviously, people who need professional help, counselling or psychology approach, should still go and seek those help. However, I am very proud to be part of the movement that helps to destigmatise mental health issues.

We want to make sure that it is accessible, and you can see the product in the same place where you can buy chocolate and chicken and lettuce and other grocery items, and that opens up conversation.

Tackling stress through sleep

Dr Candrawinata pointed out that the root cause of stress and anxiety was related to sleep and so the newly launched mental wellbeing product worked by improving sleep quality.

“Stress is a symptom of a deeper problem. The way to manage stress is through building resiliency, because you can’t remove stress from your life.

“For example, if your job is making you stressed, you can’t just simply quit your job, but what you can do through good nutrition and supplement, you can feel the resiliency within yourself to deal with the stress and manage the stress better.”

Helping consumers get back to the normal circadian rhythm is therefore, a key function of the product.   

Mental Resilience Renovatio
Mental Resilience chewable by Renovatio

“We want to address the root cause of the problem and one of them is sleep. What we want to do here is to help people get back to their normal circadian rhythm and the normal sleeping pattern, rather than inducing sleep.

“So, our formulation will not put you to sleep immediately…Our quality of sleep is actually affected by everything that we do while we are awake.”

The formula contains saffron extract, vitamin B6, B12, and activated phenolics, and claims to be for mild anxiety and stress, emotional and mood balance, and improving sleep quality.

“The approach that we're taking is that instead of altering the cortisol or the serotonin levels in the body, we help our body to manage all of this hormonal levels in the better way because we don't want to start altering these hormones in our body.

“We just want to encourage our body to better utilise the hormones. For example, serotonin re-uptake is better by using the saffron extract. It also helps with the sleep quality because a lot of times when you go to sleep stress, you will wake up exhausted and when you wake up exhausted, you are not functioning well during the day and that in turn affects the sleep for the next day.”

Activated phenolics are also added in the product to increase the absorption of nutrients.

The skin health supplement on the other hand, contains burdock root extract for mild eczema and dermatitis, acne symptoms, pimples, and assisting the body’s collagen production.

Navigating the FMCG space

The partnership with Woolworths has also helped the firm navigate the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market, such as innovating in the area of product packaging.

For instance, Renovatio’s bestseller, An Apple a Day tablets are packed in red-cap bottles, instead of the usual black or white bottle caps. Doing so helps the product to stand out from the competitors’ range.  

Renovatio first caught the eye of Woolworths in 2019, when Dr Candrawinata gave a talk about his Ph.D research on activated phenolics and the technology behind it at a conference.

“I was giving a speech and Woolworths’ executives were in the audience. I met with one of the directors after the talk who referred me to the Woolworths team.

“Subsequently, we had a meeting in the Woolworths office during January 2020, when they said they would like to range our products in their stores and we officially launched in April 2020,” ​he said, recounting the interaction.

Consumer education

While it is true that pharmacies could provide professional advice on the different types of supplements, Candrawinata believes that consumers purchasing supplements from supermarkets are also making informed decisions – based on word-of-mouth recommendations from their family and friends – which he said was the strongest marketing tool.

Some consumers also did prior research on the internet and are able to pick up what they require from the supermarkets straightaway.

As part of its consumer education process, the company is also disseminating information of its products via social media.

Aside from Woolworths, Renovatio’s products are also sold in independent pharmacies such as Mr Vitamins, dermatologist clinics, beautician clinics, as well as online. 

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