‘World’s smartest drink’: NZ’s Ārepa outlines RCTs and Australia expansion plan with new CSO on board
The winner of the start-up category in the NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2020, Ārepa produces a range of nootropic products from supplements, powders, to beverages, containing New Zealand blackcurrants, New Zealand pine bark extracts and L-theanine.
There are currently four separate clinical trials underway in the areas of mental performance under different types of stress (mental, physical, environmental), stress and mood, neuroprotection and immunity.
“Our mission is to create the world’s smartest drink and we believe that begins with validated science in those four fields,” said Ārepa’s CEO and co-founder, Angus Brown.
In one of the trials due to publish later this year, preliminary data found a significant improvement in short term memory from a one-time (acute) dose of Ārepa.
The randomised, placebo-controlled and counterbalanced cross-over trial study scanned the brains of healthy young adults assessing neurocognitive performance and brain wave activity via EEG (electroencephalography) from both acute and chronic consumption of Ārepa.
The research is being conducted at the University of Auckland in the School of Psychology and tested people on a variety of stressful and demanding cognitive tests.
"We are pleased to announce these results for our second study which builds on the first showing that Ārepa has beneficial effects to people under moments of fatigue and stress," Brown told NutraIngredients-Asia.
An earlier study reported consumption of 250mL of Ārepa for a week significantly improve mental performance in physically fatigued rugby athletes.
Leading Ārepa research efforts is neuroscientist Professor Andrew Scholey, who recently joined as the company’s chief science officer.
Professor Scholey was the director at human psychopharmacology at Swinburne University and now an adjunct professor in Neuroscience at Monash University, and has published over 205 papers in the space of brain food.
Professor Scholey also helped develop the original Ārepa formula: “I believe Ārepa has something special in the brain food space, their commitment to research-driven development is really impressive and their drink is one of a kind. This has the potential to make a huge difference in peoples’ lives,” he said.
In New Zealand, Ārepa’s products are available at all supermarket chains and its online store.
This year, Ārepa is focused on growing its business in Australia with other retail chains, following a recent launch into Coles supermarket. It also operates an online store in Australia, which has seen business grow 200% month-on-month.
The company has ambitious plans to double its revenue from last year, and sell over three million units this year in New Zealand and Australia.
Recently, Ārepa launched its new Lite + Sparkling version, which hopes to carve out a share of the kombucha market. The drink is suitable for hydration, especially in the summer months.
This month, Ārepa will also launch its new 90mL shot product. According to Brown, more launches are expected over the year: “There are a few upgrades to its existing products over the next 12 months, as our clinical research informs us on how we can improve our products.”
By the end of 2021, Ārepa plans to enter the US, seeding in one or two states with an online launch first.
The firm has also received offers from larger multinationals to license the brand in Japan and South Korea, however these were still early stages. Australia and US remain its key expansion plan this year.