It all began before the second world war in 1938, when entrepreneur Henry Bloom began his oral care business bearing his own name by selling healthy foods in the heart of the CBD in downtown Sydney.
Inside FMCG interviewed Emily Macgregor, Henry Bloom marketing manager and head of product development, to share the story of how the Australian business began and how it is doing in times of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We have a little known, but fascinating history dating back to the very start of natural healthcare here in Australia over 80 years ago. Our namesake and brand pioneer Henry Bloom began selling health foods from his shopfront in the Royal arcade in downtown Sydney CBD just before the start of the second world war, in 1938,” shared Macgregor.
It was a time when the typical food diet of Australians involved sausages and boiled cabbage. Back then, Bloom was initially selling “freshly squeezed juices, ‘nut cheese’, probiotic yoghurt culture and a variety of vitamins and herbals formulas”. This led to the manufacturing of the extensive range of products the company is selling today.
“It would not be for another 50 years that these types of foods became mainstream, such was the depth of his vision – a man truly before his time. The Henry Blooms brand has retained these core values of innovation and vision and is known for its ever-growing range of vitamin supplements and probiotics, which can always be counted on to have a key point of difference from the crowd. With the added advantage of being vertically integrated with our three TGA licensed manufacturing companies, we can ensure exacting GMP standards that are second-to-none, along with speed-to-market and competitive pricing,” Macgregor told Inside FMCG.
Inside FMCG: How has the Coronavirus affected sales?
Emily Macgregor: We are in an interesting situation as there has been a significant uplift in the demand for our immunity products such as Vitamin C (especially our VitaQIK liposomal sublingual spray), Vitamin D, Elderberry and other Immunity herbal complexes, Zinc, probiotics and Curcumin. The impact of reduced foot traffic in the retail sector due to the restrictions has certainly begun to have an adverse impact. The increase in sales on online platforms has seen a significant uplift, although not fully compensated for the fall in bricks and mortar stores.
The change in landscape has generated some creative solutions, necessity being the mother of invention and our stay-at-home field team and small marketing department has adapted to the semi-lockdown with creative solutions, increasing the amount of product we have available for online purchase and creating visuals for our sales reps to send out to customers in the absence of face to face store visits.
Inside FMCG: How do you think COVID-19 will change the industry?
EM: In the immediate aftermath, I’d say consumer attention will remain on building immunity and the associated products that provide it; especially, for those that are most vulnerable. There will be a much greater propensity to actively seek out Australian made products as countries globally realise the advantage of being more self-sufficient, supporting [the] local [workforce] and the importance of a buoyant domestic economy. The shift from physical retail stores to online sales is likely to further accelerate as consumers experiment with different purchasing habits in the short term, and a certain amount of this activity will generate long term buying habits.
Inside FMCG: You’ve just launched an Oral Health Range. Is it costly to produce these probiotic oral care products in the current climate?
EM: Fortunately we have exclusivity of the probiotic strain we use in bulk quantity, and the clinical research has already been conducted that provides the considerable array of claims for oral health, thereby we have managed to keep cost of goods to a minimum and are able to pass this on to the retailer and end user.
Inside FMCG: Tell us the process of producing them.
EM: Our Probiotic Toothpaste and Mouthwash are manufactured in an Australian TGA licensed, GMP certified facility, this means adherence to the strictest regulations including rigorous material testing, in accordance with the high standards demanded of good manufacturing procedures. We source the highest quality raw materials and our formulas are free from fluoride, aluminium, added sugars, animal products, lactose, parabens, sulphates, titanium dioxide and peroxide. Of particular benefit to our customers is the absence of artificial colour and flavour, especially in our mouthwash which delivers all the refreshing efficacy without the harsh additives.
The factor that sets us apart from other natural toothpastes and mouthwashes is the use of the unique post-biotic Dental-Lac (lactobacillus paracasei) which has been clinically shown to support oral hygiene, reduce bad breath and improve gum health by normalising oral flora and fighting unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. We source this material from Genmont laboratories and hold exclusivity of this ingredient trademark license for use in Australia and New Zealand.
Inside FMCG: Tell us about the sustainability efforts at Henry Blooms?
EM: We are proud members of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, an entity striving to achieve sustainable packaging outcomes and reducing environmental impacts of consumer packaging. The vast majority of our packaging cartons, bottles and tubs are recyclable and we constantly review our packaging looking for ways to reduce waste and always endeavour to use sustainable, environmentally-responsible resources. Our current toothpaste cartons are recyclable but not the tubes, we are looking to source new recyclable packaging in the next 12 months. We also look to reduce our carbon footprint by using our own local manufactures and sourcing local ingredients where possible.
Inside FMCG: How has the company changed over the 80+ years in business?
EM: As with most companies spanning over a quarter century, we have undergone all manner of changes big and small, with the last 10 years in particular seeing our most rapid rate of growth and expansion not just with our product ranges, but with integrated manufacturing sites. In addition to our vertically integrated two TGA licensed facilities in Queensland and Sydney we have now opened our newest manufacturing arm Probiotics Australia, positioned as the first developer of patented Australian-grown probiotic strains. This paves the way for even further innovative range developments set to attract high demand. With a tight-knit core head office team and national field force we have a strong people-centric focus and take pride in our company philosophy of ‘making happiness since 1938’.
Inside FMCG: What’s the best-selling product at Henry Blooms?
EM: This is a hard one to pick, the tie-breaker would be between GLM&T and our Bio-fermented liquids. Our Green Lipped Mussel and Turmeric product sells itself purely through repeat purchase and word of mouth due to [its] high efficacy with pain reduction, especially for those suffering osteoarthritis or joint injuries.
Our Bio-fermented liquids are another testimony to both efficacy and Aussie innovation being a base of bio-fermented Australia-grown papaya with raw probiotics and superfoods, taken as a delicious liquid concentrate that can be added to water or smoothies. We extended this highly popular range into a ready-to-drink called ‘BellyUp’ that is now available outside the pharmacy arena in the grocery, convenience and café channels. These products make taking daily probiotics and superfoods highly enjoyable due to their excellent taste profile, whilst remaining over 99% sugar-free.