More expansion for functional foods pioneer

Kathy Kruger | January 2018

Since the Gold Coast health foods company founded 17 years ago, Morlife’s motto has been simple – to help customers get more out of life.

In the process, Morlife has developed more products, in more markets than founder Dr Warren Stewart could have ever envisaged, and with daughter Cheryl Stewart at the helm of export expansion, their Arundel facility will double in size from next month to meet demand.

In a stunning story of growth, the Australian pioneer of functional foods – foods that offer health benefits over and above basic nutrition – has crested the wellness wave and ridden it all the way to China, potentially the world’s largest market.

“China is very lucrative market if you can persist with the process of product registration,” Cheryl Stewart tells We Are Gold Coast, “now we’ve had that learning curve for one of our cereal lines and for our dark chocolate berries, the potential to add many more product lines is so much easier.”

Both Chinese Costco and Walmart stores are interested in their products, with the ‘Made in Australia’ tag synonymous with quality, and prized as safe in China.

Already the Middle-East has proven fertile ground for a significant range of Morlife lines, which are stocked across multiple supermarket channels.

“We’ve been very lucky that City of Gold Coast has supported us over the last six years in the Middle East and we’ve also been active on our own there – it’s now quite a mature market for us, “ Ms Stewart says.

“Singapore is another strong market, we’ve recently sent our first order to Indonesia, and we’ve seen growth in Thailand.”

The US, as the global trend-setter in all things health and wellness is a harder nut to crack, but there’s the prospect of growth through product innovation – something Morlife has excelled at, with an impressive string of Australian business and export awards as proof.

“We’re starting to move pallets to the US, and we expect China and the US to represent our biggest growth in 2018,” Ms Stewart says.

With 75 staff, including an R&D team of 6, plus market research experts, Morlife has been able to stay ahead of the growth curve that is the wellness tsunami.

35 years ago, when Dr Stewart started in nutritional science, functional foods didn’t exist, with the family’s humble business beginnings in Australia in 2002, consisting of importing barley grass powder and a few basic products from their home country New Zealand, and wholesaling them to a small selection of health food shops.

“We quickly realised we had no competitive edge and it was just down to price, so we started value adding,” explains Ms Stewart.

Barley grass powder became the foundation for their best-selling staple – Alkalising Greens, which contains some 43 different ingredients designed to maximise health – what Ms Stewart calls the ‘BMW’ of health products.

With powders, dried fruits, seeds and grains, cereals, snacks and meals, functional teas and the huge popularity of ‘superfoods’, Morlife has something for every taste – which means they can tailor their dark chocolate golden berries to the Chinese, who find some berry products too sweet.

“The secret is treating each market individually, and with 300 lines, we have something to suit or can tailor new products, and we always create nutritional formulas that taste good.”

In Australia word of mouth, and the #fitspo social media craze, provide all the endorsement they need to continue growing, led by a young generation sold on good health and Insta credibility.

“It’s fantastic to see teenagers creating acai bowls and just being so into their health,” Ms Stewart says, anticipating a future of even healthier customers and profits, and continued success on the Gold Coast.

“We feel that we’re the lifestyle capital of the world and being here just works with our brand – you really do get more out of life.”

The Gold Coast continues to transform into a world class city dedicated to business growth, job creation and diversification. See Business Gold Coast for more information.

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