Lane Cove locals Sean Cunial and Myles Davis have launched a Japanese style recovery tonic based on popular vitamin drinks found in Japan called SHOJO. It contains Curcumin, Turmeric, and B Group vitamins, ingredients scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and support healthy liver function. It is sold in a convenient, easy to drink 100ml serve size. ITC asked Sean how he developed the product and if it was available in Lane Cove.
How did you come up with the idea of developing a wellness drink?
I came up with the idea while living and working in Asia with The Coca-Cola Company. I was with Coca-Cola for more than 20 years, starting here in Australia with Coca-Cola Amatil and then with The Coca-Cola Company in Australia and Asia. During my time in Asia, my family and I lived in Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan. My last role was COO for The Coca-Cola Company in Japan.
While living in the region I was exposed to the different traditional medicine philosophies in various countries. These included Jamu in Indonesia, Traditional Chinese Medicine within the Chinese populations of different countries and Kampo in Japan. As an extension of this, I noticed that a number of local beverage manufacturers had created ready to drink products (packaged drinks) using some of the more popular functional ingredients from these traditional practices.
These drinks usually contain specific natural ingredients that are known for their functional benefits such as turmeric for anti-inflammation and liver function, ginseng for energy, and so on. Because of their focus on functional benefits, these drinks are not sold as usual refreshment or hydration type beverages but are sold more as vitamin drinks. As such, they are sold in small bottles of 50-100ml rather than the 500ml size we commonly see here. These manufactured drinks became popular because the local population understood the benefits of functional foods and ingredients and were now able to access them more easily via manufactured drinks.
While functional drinks have been a relatively recent phenomenon in the West, over the last two decades, they mostly continue to focus on rehydration/refreshment in 500ml with some functional ingredients. Energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull, Monster) and Sports drinks (e.g. Powerade) are the most common type of functional beverages in the market, however drinks such as Kombucha, Acai and Coconut water have rapidly emerged over the last few years. In contrast, the vitamin shot category barely exists in Australia and so I thought this presented a great opportunity to provide something different to consumers. A drink better for you with specific functional ingredients in a convenient and easy to consume ‘shot’ size.
Based on this, I decided to develop the idea. I reviewed different functional beverages that were popular in Japan and started to evaluate which ones might be most relevant for consumers in Australia. On repatriating to Australia two years ago, I decided to leave the Coca-Cola Company and started to design and develop a product for the Australian market working with some partners and a local flavour house.
How long did it take you from idea to market?
It took approximately two years from idea to launch. This time was spent creating the brand, sourcing and developing packaging, developing the formula and finding a manufacturer.
What is unique about SHOJO?
The product is unique in two main ways:
- The ingredients: turmeric, B group vitamins and vitamin C; and
- The format: a small 100ml functional shot that you drink in 2-3 mouthfuls.
The primary active ingredient in our product is curcumin, the active compound extracted from turmeric. You would be aware that people have been increasingly talking about the benefits of Turmeric over the last 2-3 years. It’s primary benefits are it’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also said to support healthy liver function and cognitive performance. Based on this increased awareness and interest, we have seen the emergence of turmeric lattes, powdered drinks and juices in the market. However, many of these are either not widely available, not convenient to buy and use or don’t taste nice. Our product tries to solve these problems by containing 30mg of curcumin in an easy to buy and easy to drink 100ml serve.
The second key ingredient in our product is B group vitamins. These vitamins are known to promote healthy neurological function, contribute to metabolic function and reduce tiredness and fatigue. Our product contains B1, 2, 3 and 6.
The final core ingredient is vitamin C, which supports immune system function, reduces tiredness and fatigue, and promotes normal collagen function.
The product has no artificial colours or flavours, no caffeine and is low in sugar.
A similar product has been in the Japanese market for more than 15 years, suggesting Japanese consumers find the product beneficial.
Where Can We Buy SHOJO in Lane Cove?
- Two Brothers Café;
- Vision Personal Training;
- Go Vita Lane Cove (next to McGrath).
It is now also available at Harris Farm and Sumo Salad.
We are in discussions with other café’s in Lane Cove to range the product. If you have a business in Lane Cove or Sydney please feel free to drop me an Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your future plans?
Our initial plans are to expand the the Turmeric drink into café’s, food chains and convenience stores in Australia and then launch the product in the US and Europe. We are also have four other functional drinks in development and plan to launch these as they are finalized next year.
What do you like about living in Lane Cove?
I first moved to Lane Cove when I was 12 years old. Growing up here was just amazing with so many things to do and the opportunity to make life long friends. The parks, the river and the quiet streets allowed us to have an outdoor lifestyle that can’t be rivalled. Whether playing touch football at one of the ovals, tennis at local courts, golf at the local course or windsurfing on the river, you could participate in so much while growing up.
Our children were born in the Philippines and grew up mostly in Japan. While this provided them with some wonderful experiences that I hope will stay with them forever, they had never experienced the freedom and adventure that an outdoor active lifestyle like that found in Lane Cove can provide. That’s why we decided to come back so our kids could have these types of experiences growing up.
What are your favourite things to do in Lane Cove?
- Spending time with friends who live nearby
- Spending time with the kids while they learn to sail, play tennis, basketball and soccer
- Swimming at the pool or going to the gym
- Walking with the family and dog
- Running and cycling with my wife or friends
- Eating at one of the café’s or new restaurants that are arriving in Lane Cove
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