Before working with omega-3 and fish oil at Coromega, Aussie has worked with several established consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. His first job at CPG was in marketing at Procter & Gamble. He worked on Hawaiian Punch before it was sold to Cadbury Schweppes in 1990. But he felt the natural channel beckoning.
His passion for what he calls ‘the natural wellness industry’ started when he was in college—as an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he would frequent the People’s Food Co-op on 4th avenue.
“When you are 18 or 19, those co-ops were an amazing way to get healthier foods that were better-for-you, better-for-the world,” Aussie told us.
While at P&G, he went through a list of the niche, natural product brands he used to buy and rang them up for jobs. He landed a marketing and strategy position at an up-and-coming cereal brand called Kashi.
“When I got there, [Kashi] was a small brand, with less than $5 million in sales. When I left it was a $200 million plus company,” he said.
Aussie worked at Kashi for 11 years, gaining a lot of new business savvy and experience in that period. He was with Kashi through different stages: A half independent, half owned by Kellogg stage, and then as a full subsidiary of Kellogg, scaling up distribution with natural food stores and expanding to grocery, ecommerce, mass market, and Costco.
The next step for him was to start his own brand (Earnest Eats) as well as a consultancy practice called Purely Righteous Brands. It was his consulting activities that brought him to Coromega, a former client that eventually recruited him as COO.
“When you go through those changing points of a brand you’re able to reapply hopefully those learnings to help other dreams and visions come true,” he said.
Positioning omega-3 for different audiences
Coromega, founded in 2000, was the first stateside brand to bring emulsified fish oil to US shoppers.
“Fish oils were still unpleasant to drink, and by emulsifying it, it made it taste better, so it looks and tastes more like a sports gel,” Aussie said.
The company has been active in sponsoring studies on its product. For example, data published in the journal Lipids published in 2016 found that a single dose of Coromega Squeeze produced significant increases in blood levels of omega-3 EPA.
When he came on board in 2007, many similar products had launched, and the company sought new ways to differentiate it. One new development that came to fruition with Aussie on board was a line called Coromega Max, launched in 2016.
“There were a lot of news in the media reporting a lack of benefits from taking omega-3, but that’s because a lot of studies that showed lack of benefits were using low-dose omega-3s in their studies,” he argued.
“So the major thing I brought on with the team was recreating that superiority in the industry with Coromega Max, the world’s highest non-prescription dose of omega-3. Not fish oil, but the true active component of omega-3s, we have a full 2400 mg in a daily dose of two pouches,” he added.
“And that’s important, because most of the studies you’re seeing out there show that the benefits for heart health, eye health, even inflammation reduction and athletic performance are in that 2,000 to 3,000 mg omega-3 dose.”
Using the word ‘Max’ in a product, paired with a delivery format similar to sports gels, helped Coromega diversify its audience to include younger shoppers and athletes.
“Omega-3 buyers were originally the 50 plus set like myself,” he said. “But now we’ve seen omega-3 associated to many other benefits, from eye health to brain capacity…so the audience has widened dramatically.”
Expanding to other fats, nutrients
These days, consumers are less wary about the word fat, thanks in part to the rise of high-fat, low-carb keto dieters.
Riding on this wave, coromega is now using its emulsifying technology on other fats, not just omega-3. At Expo West this year, it launched coconut oil MCT pouches. In its product pipeline, its planning other products including protein and CBD using the same format.
“The same advantages that emulsification provides are available when you do it on any other fat,” he said.
In 2019, Coromega is launching a line of new healthy fats products. “We’re going to have a CBD, a dedicated product for eye health, and a number of innovations that are taking healthy fats, emulsifying them, some of them fish, some of them vegetarian, so that we’re going well beyond omega-3 as a category to deliver the benefits of healthy fat in general.”