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NZ Brand Oi Propels To Second Position In Exciting US Feminine Hygiene Market, Worth US $3.6 Bn

New Zealand company Organic Initiative (Oi) is unfolding a remarkable success story in the competitive US feminine hygiene market. In just five months, Oi has risen to second in American organic retail juggernaut Whole Foods Market’s ranking of more than 10 period care products.

The Kiwi business started selling its organic range in Whole Foods’ 500-plus stores last July and has since made significant strides in the US. It has captured the attention of other American retailers searching for a premium organic brand to sell in an exciting US $3.6 billion market.

Oi CEO Clare Morgan said Erewhon, dubbed by Vogue as Hollywood's cult-favourite wellness store and shopped by Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and the Kardashians, preceded Whole Foods and joined their growing list of US retailers in 2019.

“Oi's journey in the US hasn't been without its challenges. The North Shore Auckland-headquartered business entered the US in 2018, first in Walmart and then in CVS. The onset of COVID-19 kept shoppers away from aisles, and Oi was unsuccessful in its first foray. Then, a strategic reset in February 2022 propelled us towards targeted growth.

“We emphasised Oi’s alignment with the natural channel and sharpened our focus on our organic and ‘better for you and the planet' values,” said Morgan.

Unlike most New Zealand businesses that strike gold in the US, 'Brand NZ' didn't factor in their pitch to retailers.

"Made in NZ isn't what converted our US retailers to stock Oi, as most of our products are sourced globally,” says Morgan.

Clare Morgan (Photo supplied)
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"The clincher was that our products have been made from organic cotton and certified to either the GOTS, the Global Organic Textiles Standard, or the OCS Organic Cotton Standard. This means they're made free of toxic chemicals, chlorine bleaches, pesticides and products can be traced back to the cotton farm that grew the cotton flowers that make up their period products."

A packaging glow-up to improve shelf appeal was rolled out last year, coinciding with the launch in Whole Foods, and Oi developed new, larger pack sizes specifically for Amazon.

The business strategically partnered with US distributor UNFI, facilitating Oi's distribution in the high-growth natural channel.

Looking ahead to the end of the year, Morgan says the business is focused on US growth.

"We attended EXPO West in Los Angeles this month and have been getting in front of more buyers. We'll work with our brokers to build the business through the natural channel for the rest of the year. We'll also continue the momentum with Amazon - achieving 250% growth in the last 12 months - we’re aiming to repeat this growth in the upcoming year.

"This includes adding new natural channel retailers, expanding the range of SKUs on the shelf and building the velocity or, in other words, the sell-through off the shelf or through e-retailers," says Morgan.

A snapshot: Organic Initiative US retailers

1. Whole Foods Markets

2. Erewhon

3. Harmon's

4. Mother’s Market and Kitchen

5. Giant Food

6. Good Earth Natural Foods

7. Wegmans.


8. Amazon

9. Thrive Market

10. Vitacost.

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