Manufacturers

Swisse Wellness CEO: ‘We need natural health companies to have power’

14-Mar-2014
Last updated on 14-Mar-2014 at 16:00 GMT - By Stephen Daniells
Radek Sali, CEO of Swisse Wellness
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The natural health category needs a power brand on a global scale to help further the spread of integrative medicine and health and wellness, says the CEO of Swisse Wellness.

And the company, the fastest growing OTC company in the world in the last five years, is ideally poised to step up and become a global powerhouse.

After gaining dominance of Australia’s buoyant supplements market, and entering the US to great fanfare last year, Swisse signed a ‘game-changing’ deal with PGT Healthcare to begin expanding its range of more than 100 vitamins, minerals and supplements globally over the next few years.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA, Radek Sali, CEO of Swisse Wellness, said that the company’s goal is “to achieve the wellness stretch”, with products ranging from supplements to super food, skin care, and general wellness.

The company announced a ‘game-changing’ deal with PGT Healthcare LLP, the international joint venture between P&G and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, last November. Sali told us at the time that the deal “enables us to become that global wellness brand, where we see that extraordinary opportunity for brands with personality to really drive category growth.”

The licensing arrangement has PGT investing heavily in Swisse, and allows the company to access countries outside of the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where they will continue to manage things directly.

Quality, safety and efficacy

Swisse entered the US in early 2013 with 15 products available at retailers such as Wallgreens and CVS

Australia and the US are the two biggest supplement using countries, with 70% of Australians reported to be users of dietary supplements, and the market is estimated to be worth over US$1.6 billion. Swisse has grown rapidly over the past five years to become the leading supplement brand in Australia with $240 million in sales.

Sali, who was named the Health and Pharmaceutical Executive of 2012 by CEO Magazine, has been instrumental in building the brand, and puts quality, safety and efficacy at the center of all Swisse does.

Supplements are regulated as drugs in Australia, and this gives Swisse a big edge in terms of quality, he said, since the products are manufactured according to pharma-grade GMPs. Swisse’s US products are all made in the US, but still subject to the same quality standards.

In terms of science, investment in randomized clinical trials is on-going, with many already published in peer-review journals. The company also boasts a high-class scientific advisory board, which includes Sali’s father, Prof Avni Sali, Director of Australia’s National Institute of Integrative Medicine.

“We always hear that there’s not enough evidence,” said Sali. “It’s key for us to invest in research, and it takes a brave company to invest in things that are not patented.”

Science is also central to its selection of suppliers, he said, as well as quality and the ability to supply globally.

Sali talks about the total package, combining science and quality with big marketing budgets to excite the mass consumer, with the company working with celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Ellen DeGeneres.

Since launching in the US in March 2013 with 15 products available in retailers such as Wallgreens and CVS, the company is making about $20 million in sales, said Sali. Another 15 products will be launched this year, including a sports nutrition range.

So what is possible for Swisse? “We have 94% brand awareness in Australia,” said Sali. “In the US the leading supplement brand is Centrum with 60% brand awareness…

“Here we come world!”

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