Innovative New Zealand nutraceutical manufacturer, Vital Foods, has appointed David Mastroianni, founder and principal of leading US consulting company, Natural Growth LLC, as the Chief Executive for their US based business. Mr Mastroianni will be responsible for turning what he and Vital Foods see as the enormous potential for their new product “Phloe” into reality in the US.
Phloe is a revolutionary digestive supplement, manufactured from New Zealand’s wonder food, kiwifruit that has been clinically proven to support regularity and long term digestive health.
Vital Foods Chief Executive, Trevor Wilkinson said the company had planned to enter the US market as soon as it had proven Phloe’s potential in its home market.
“After an extremely successful launch in New Zealand last year we are all incredibly excited and confident about taking this significant step and expanding internationally,” said Mr Wilkinson.
The gastrointestinal supplements market in the United States is extremely lucrative with the category worth US$819 million in 2006 and growing at around 16 per cent per year. Mr Wilkinson said Vital Foods was confident their innovative product would be welcomed by American consumers looking for a natural and proven digestive aid.
Said Mr Wilkinson “Phloe is a unique product as it offers a combination of three of the key elements essential for good digestion - enzymes, prebiotics and fiber - which are all derived from one natural ingredient – New Zealand green kiwifruit.”
Vital Foods was established in 1991 by a former agricultural scientist and began with one simple product, its award winning Kiwi Crush fruit juice. Realizing the huge potential of kiwifruit in the nutraceuticals area, the company continued to develop innovative kiwifruit based products with a core focus on refining and improving the digestive health properties of its kiwifruit powder, Zyactinase™.
Phloe (containing Zyactinase) was launched in the New Zealand market in July 2007 and by the end of the year had achieved the number one position for its category in the pharmacy channel.
The product also achieved outstanding results in clinical trials last year. The trials were completed under the guidance of Vital Foods’ new Chief Science Officer and renowned cell biologist Dr Iona Weir, with the extensive safety testing and clinical trial program being undertaken by an independent research team. The trials investigated the effectiveness of Phloe in treating regularity problems while also supporting long term intestinal health, and were the first in a series of clinical trials the company plans to undertake.
Said Dr Weir: “What makes Phloe such an amazing digestive health product is we have proven that the enzyme complex in Phloe very gently stimulates motility (or movement) through the bowel without causing any of the nasty side effects like spasms, cramping and diarrhea that are often associated with motility products. Combined with the prebiotic and fiber activity from kiwifruit, Phloe really is an outstanding digestive health product”.
To be able to compete strongly in the US market, Vital Foods Chief Executive, Trevor Wilkinson said there was a real need for a comprehensive science program to be implemented.
Said Mr Wilkinson: “We had a lot of anecdotal evidence that our product was effective in improving regularity and supporting long term intestinal health, but we wanted solid scientific evidence to back it up. The science confirmed all the digestive benefits we expected and has given us the foundation we believe is essential to support the international expansion of this product, especially in the US.”
Rebecca Sanders, a Business Manager with the New Zealand Government backed Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, said the company had taken an exemplary step in validating the science underpinning a natural product.
“Vital Foods is setting an excellent example by carrying out such rigorous testing. There is an increasing demand in global markets for proof that natural products do what they say they do. Natural doesn’t automatically mean safe, so it’s important that companies have strong scientific evidence to meet regulatory requirements and consumer expectations.”
While the revolutionary product is made from kiwifruit, Dr Weir warns people would not get the same results from just eating the fruit.
“Our patented production process makes the complex of enzymes, prebiotics and fiber more bioavailable (more available for absorption into the body) than it would be when just eating kiwifruit.
“You would have to eat a significant amount of kiwifruit to get similar results. It would not only be inconvenient to consume such large quantities of the fruit, but it could cause a raft of unpleasant side effects such as acid build up and an upset stomach.”
New US CEO David Mastroianni is currently in discussions with marketing partners who are keen to introduce Phloe to the US market.
Said Mr Mastroianni: “I am very excited to be involved with the introduction of a new, innovative digestive product to the US market. Digestive health is expected to be one of the fastest growing categories in health in 2008 and Phloe has had a very successful launch in its home country proving its viability. This patented product has been clinically shown to have significant digestive benefits. We are focused on partnering with the major brands in the retail, practitioner and network marketing channels with exclusivity in each channel to allow American consumers access to this breakthrough product.”
Said Mr Wilkinson: “Dave’s addition to the team is fantastic news for Vital Foods. He’s one of the best in the business and extremely experienced in developing and launching winning products across a wide range of distribution channels throughout the United States.”
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About Vital Foods
Auckland based nutraceutical manufacturer, Vital Foods, is committed to producing natural products, derived from kiwifruit and backed up by solid science, to help people the world over lead healthier and more vibrant lives. The company, which was established in 1991 by former agricultural scientist, Bruce Donaldson, began with one simple product, award winning Kiwi Crush. Realizing the huge potential of kiwifruit in the nutraceutical arena, the company continued to develop kiwifruit based products with a core focus on refining and improving the digestive health properties of their kiwifruit powder Zyactinase™.
In 2006, New Zealand based venture capital fund BioPacificVentures (a $100 million Australasian food, health and agbio venture capital fund) led what is now a NZ$7m investment co-funded by Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Ltd, to support Vital Foods’ commercialisation and expansion process.
About Dr Iona Weir
Cell biologist, Dr Iona Weir, who has significant experience in clinical trials and who is one of only half a dozen scientists in the world specializing in both plant and mammalian physiology, joined Vital Foods in 2006 as an independent expert consultant.
Dr Weir has a PhD from Auckland University and in 1997 was awarded an international award, the Young Scientist of the Year by the International Society for Analytical Cytology. Dr Weir established the bioactives screening platform for HortResearch, a wholly New Zealand Government owned fruit science company, and has extensive knowledge of kiwifruit.
About Natural Growth
David Mastroianni has held various executive positions for Solgar Vitamin & Herb, the leading supplement brand in independent U.S. health food stores, and Weider Nutrition, a major supplement and nutraceutical company in the diet, sports nutrition and vitamin product categories. From 1999 to 2003 Mr Mastroianni was president of Unicity Network, the global network marketing division of Royal Numico. Based in Salt Lake City, Mr Mastroianni is now president of Natural Growth, a company he founded to consult with senior management of natural product companies in developing all aspects of their business.