Health food expansion: Openway Food tapping Aussie-made and organic credentials for Asia growth – CEO interview
Co-founded by Andrew Loader, Openway has acquired three companies Annex Foods, Table of Plenty and Metro Foods, and their respective consumer brands in the snack bar, cereal, and protein powder category.
The five brands are Red Tractor, Raise the Bar, Hammer & Tuffy’s, Keep it Cleaner and Table of Plenty, totalling some 150 SKUs.
Loader, who was previously at Mars Incorporated for more than 20 years, said Openway was established to help brands and retailers navigate the fragmented nature and lack of large multi-national FMCG investment in the health food industry.
“On the brand side, we could see that many entrepreneurs hit a ceiling without an ability to continue to invest in operations, distribution and innovation.
“On the retailer side, they were dealing with a fragmented supplier base made up of many small suppliers.”
Headquartered in Melbourne, Openway will manage innovation, manufacturing right through to distribution for its five brands.
Manufacturing is undertaken by Annex Foods, a contract manufacturing company which offers R&D product development, production and packaging.
At present, the Annex Foods arm also works with other brands including Nestle, Kellogg’s and retail private label.
As part of its growth strategy, Openway is focused on growing its five brands in Australia and abroad.
Openway has established distribution across China for Red Tractor Oats and is now looking to collaborate with distribution partners in other parts of Asia.
Hong Kong and South East Asia are markets of interest, as consumers there are generally receptive to Australian products and brands, according to Loader.
Currently, some of Openway’s brands are distributed in the US as well.
“Our strategy is to build on the credentials of our Australian made products from sourcing to organic and sustainable farming practices, that will be attractive to other markets.”
Watch Loader explains Openway’s growth strategy in terms of market distribution and product portfolio.
All of Openway’s brands are Australian, except Hammer & Tuffy’s, which hails from the US. As the business grows, Loader hopes to add more international brands.
“We will continue to look at the best brands that fit our model, whether they be in the US or in Asia. This will depend on the timing, consumer needs in that specific marketplace, what's already existing there and what we can bring or develop that's different.”
Currently, most of Openway’s brands are in the healthy snacking and sports nutrition category. According to Loader, there are plans to expand the range into baking, cooking, dietary health supplement and beverages in the future.
Although, he is mindful in taking in too many products and brands, “we don't just want to have a proliferation of new SKUs for the sake of it. The products that we bring in must meet consumers needs in various markets.”
Besides brand building, Openway also intends to work with retailers: “We will provide private label options for retailers’ brands, for instance we work with Walmart in China on some Australian made products. It’s great to have that ability to help others grow their brands as well as growing our own brands.
“Our business is called Openway because we're all about collaborating with other partners and looking for the right partners to build better-for-you brands and distribution worldwide.
Five V Capital is Openway’s biggest investor, alongside other business owners, entrepreneurs and family offices.
The founders of Annex Foods, Table of Plenty and Metro Foods will form part of Openway’s leadership team.