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International Protein Distribution Testimonial

Christine Envall from International Protein discusses Nutritional Products International and her experiences with the US Market.


The text transcript is available below for your convenience:

I'm Christine Envall, I'm co-owner and developer of the products of International Protein. International Protein is an Australian sports nutrition company. We specialize in protein powers, weight gainer, recovery products, anything, basically, to improve the nutrition in a person's diet. We started back in 2001, that's 15 years ago, now. And when we started, the market wasn't as developed as what it is now. But it was still a real gap for products which were high quality, and yet affordable. Being an athlete, a professional body builder, nutrition is incredibly important. I spend around 10 months a year following a very, very strict diet.

And at that time, I found there was really nothing on the market which gave me the flexibility to interchange my products around at different times of my training year. There was nothing which really had the nutritional profile that I required. And when I looked at my diet, it was not that dissimilar to anyone who was looking for a healthier diet, not just an athlete. Over the years, we've grown to be Australia's number one protein brand. And along with that, we've started to export into Asia and the Middle East. For us, the next logical step, obviously, was the US. Australia has a population of around 25 million people. And the US has over 500 million people, all looking to live a healthier lifestyle, looking to improve their longevity, looking to improve their overall health.

And for us, we felt that International Protein's product fitted that exactly. And the opportunity for us is enormous, compared to what there is in Australia. So we would really like to bring to America what we have, and allow people to benefit from the products, as people in Australia have. As we've learned, the American market is very different to the Australian market, and very different to any of the other markets that we've approached. So knowing how to tackle that market, knowing how to break into that market, definitely was beyond the expertise that we had, and we need to find somebody who can bring that to us. Here we are in Boca Raton, with NPI, my new American partners. I'm very excited to have met these people, and I now feel that what we spoke about, and what seemed just like an idea at the time, is now becoming real.

And I know that they have that the entities in place, through the promotional and PR side of things, the sales side of things, and the strategy. We have the right strategy of how to bring our product to the market. Seeing the evolution of distribution in action is quite confidence inspiring. To have met all the people behind the PR, the logistics, the importation, knowing that they can do everything from this one place, it means I don't have to run around dealing with 100 different people. I have a face that I can talk to. I feel like I can ask a question. I feel like I will get feedback on what's happening. The key thing being that everything is happening in the one place, that I can send my product here, and know that it's going to get into the right hands.

Also, the process that they're taking, it just makes sense to me. It's like, I watched the video, and I thought, oh yeah, this sounds like a cool concept. But knowing that it is actually happening like that, that's giving me the confidence that I needed to know that International Protein is going to get where we want to in the US market. Having seen the process in action, I feel like this is our office in the US. All the same things that we're doing day to day in Australia are happening here, but obviously on a much bigger scale. In essence, NPI plays the role of our US headquarters. Obviously we were aware that there are differences existing between the Australian and the American laws when it comes to labeling and product content. That, for us, was probably the most confusing part, because we had looked into it in the past, and just made no sense as to how to bring this together.

Now that part of the process is reviewing our labels, and NPI has done that for us. And we now have the confidence that there's some small changes that we need to make, in terms of formatting, but we don't feel that we are now going to be looking over our shoulder, wondering if the FDA is going to have an issue with our labels. So there's a lot of confidence now that what we've done is going to be suitable for the American market, and not going to bring us problems later on down the track. One of the main concerns for us launching into the US market was the labeling. We were aware that there is difference between the Australian and the US market in terms of nutritional requirements, and even ingredients that we're allowed to put into our products. I had a chance to meet Rosemary, who is the FDA Compliance person for NPI, and she's had a through review of our labels. And we now have the confidence that with a few minor changes, we're not going to have any issues on the market.

One of the first things that NPI did for us was create a plan of action. This was so useful, because it mapped out everything that was going to happen between now and, really, ongoing. And we could see what would be happening at each phase of the process. One of the initial things was to put the products on Amazon, and get the approval. And that has happened exactly on the time that we said. We have our approval, and we even have our opening order for Amazon. So this has happened within the time frame, but again, much quicker than what we expected. Not only did Amazon place an order, or they placed an order at the pricing that was, I guess, well above what we expected. Again, NPI advised us what should be pricing products at, and in this instance they were right on the money. Amazon's ordered good profits for us, great profits for them, and the customer's getting the high quality product that they want. As a young manufacturer, margins are very important to us. We run a very, very lean profit margin. And in this instance, not only did we get the order from Amazon, we'll got it at a really good margin.

The pricing has enabled Amazon to make good margin, our company to make a good margin, and then the consumer to get a product still at a reasonable price. So all around, it's a win-win situation for everyone, and we're really happy about that. As part of the strategic plan that NPI put together, we're now in the process of getting ready to meet and penetrate with some of the largest retailers in the US market. We're talking companies like Vitamin World, Vitamin Shoppe, GNC. These are companies which, from Australia, we hear about, we've seen, I come to the US, I shop in. And to think that our products are going to be in those stores, it's really, for us, is very exciting to be to have places to that through NPI. So far, International Protein is focused on sports-related products, performance products.

Recognizing that the market is definitely shifting towards more natural ingredients and more natural products, we've already anticipated that, and we have International Protein Naturals. This is a range of products which include no artificial product, no artificial ingredients. Everything is natural flavors, natural sweeteners, GMO free, gluten free. These products also cover our vegan market, so people who don't want dairy products, we have options through pea, soy, rice. This is where we see the future of nutritional supplements, and we have that product line ready to go, and that will be our next phase in the launch into the US market. International Protein as a company is incredibly fortunate to have teamed up with NPI. I feel so comfortable with this group of people. They know what they're doing, that's obvious from talking to them. And the opportunity to have this exposure, the opportunity to work with these people, really, to me, is priceless. I can't put words on what this has brought for our company.

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