NEW INNOVATOR:Shannon-based nutrition company, ABC Nutritionals, has developed a new range of meal replacement products aimed at those who need to lose a lot of weight.
The products, which have been two years in development, take the form of shakes and contain a broad range of essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins and minerals. Also in the new range are zero-carb, zero-fat soups and jellies designed to keep dieters from getting bored with shakes alone.
“The big challenge in developing meal replacement products is producing something that tastes good while also meeting a wide variety of nutritional requirements,” explains company co-founder, Willie Wixted.
“One of the problems with existing products is that they can be very salty and taste pretty horrible as a result. We have a lot of expertise in formulation and spent a great deal of time coming up with a blend of ingredients that combine well together. This meant working our way through hundreds of possibilities until the taste was right.
“What helped bring this project to fruition was InterTrade Ireland’s Fusion programme which supports companies over an 18-month period to work on new product development,” says Wixted, who estimates the cost of developing the products at about € 200,000.
ABC Nutritionals was set up five years ago and specialises in the formulation of nutritional powder blends that are 100 per cent drug free. It spots trends, develops products to meet these needs and sells them to third parties who market the products, which are manufactured in Ireland, under their own brand.
Over 85 per cent of the company’s output is exported and at present it is manufacturing private label brands for customers in 16 European countries as well as in Asia and the Middle East. ABC was Irish exporter of the year in 2011. The RD-led company employs 14 people and has already landed two large UK customers for its new meal replacement range.
When the company was set up five years ago its initial focus was on sports nutrition and it still produces a range of whey-based protein products that can be fortified with additions such as L-Glutamine and digestive enzymes as its customers specify.
“We could see there was a growing market for sports drinks that help build muscle, rehydrate and provide energy and we felt there was an opportunity to get into making powder blends that met athletes’ needs in these areas,” says Wixted, who comes from a nutrition background.
However, since then the company has gone for accelerated growth by expanding into two new areas, weight management and lifestyle products, which include drinks promoting cardiovascular and joint health.
“We are a competitive, one-stop-shop for companies looking for fast entry into a particular niche and are to the forefront in working with the next generation of ingredients that are proving beneficial to different aspects of human health,” Wixted says.