The kitchen, located in Melbourne, is on the site of its packing facility and is approximately 20 minutes’ drive away from the company’s head office.
Unveiled and fully operational since last Thursday (May 4), Swisse will be holding cross-collaboration workshops involving key stakeholders, such as its customers, ingredient suppliers, and contract manufacturers to supercharge its innovation pipeline.
“The aspiration is that we will now start kicking off these workshops and it's a way for all of our stakeholders within our categories to touch, feel, get closer to our products – not necessarily the products that we have available at the moment, but the future of our products,” said Evan Scicluna, director, product design and delivery at H&H Group – the parent company of Swisse.
Scicluna told NutraIngredients-Asia that the purpose was to ensure that the product formats that Swisse would offer in the future were fun, good tasting, and on trend with the variety of different consumers that it served.
“Having those sensory formats and continually pushing the boundaries of what's capable from a functionality, efficacy point of view is going to be important for success here in Australia and across Asia,” he said.
He explained that this was because consumer needs were evolving, especially around sensory formats.
“We are combining in this kitchen, the scientific evidence that meets the health needs of consumers, with also the sensory needs of products that consumers are looking for. This means products that have a sensory appeal, taste great, but also come with good mouthfeel.”
Some of these products include Probiotic + Prebiotic Gummies and Multivitamin Gummies under the Swisse Me umbrella, as well as Probiotic + Prebiotic Gummies, Immune Gummies, and Multi Gummies under the Swisse Kids range.
The Swisse Me range has been especially popular among younger Gen Z consumers, the firm said in its FY22 annual report.
Asked how else Swisse would advance its gummy offerings, Scicluna said the firm has always been on the lookout for “the next gummy."
"Gummy is very fast growing, if not the fastest growing sub-category in these sensorial formats. There still remains a lot of opportunities, particularly around pushing the boundaries of science and mixing that with texture. For us, our objective will be around working with new functional ingredients that can adapt to the gummy format.
"Aside from that, we look to other regions around what is trending as the next gummy. For example, in the US, we know formats such as functional chocolates, as well as chewables and gels are growing rapidly. All of these formats could be opportunities of tomorrow across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region."
The innovations coming out of the kitchen will be catered to the Australian market but could also extend to products across APAC, Scicluna added.
Sustainable packaging is another area of focus in the product development kitchen.
“We have got a mini packaging lab here so that we can also start to investigate with different packaging formats of the future that meet the needs of consumers across the region, particularly from a sustainability component,” he said.
In recent years, other nutraceutical brands such as Haleon’s Centrum has also been doubling down on its gummy offerings, while Blackmores would also beef up its functional foods innovation if its acquisition by Kirin is finalised in August.
Cross functional collaboration
Since the kitchen is within close proximity with the head office, the company believes that this would help speed up its innovation road map and pipeline.
“Having this facility available here and in Melbourne, where our headquarters are and where our commercial teams are, really gets us working closely together to speed up our innovation roadmap and pipeline, especially in the early stages of our development program.
“We believe where this is really going to add benefit is when our insights team, our marketing team, our technical team, and innovation cross functional teams can come together to develop, test, try new ingredients, new formats, new flavours, and then we can use those to educate the products of tomorrow,” Scicluna said.