SGS
Carst and Walker

Latest SA News!

How homegrown USN became an international giant

How homegrown USN became an international giant

In 1999, ex-policeman Albé Geldenhuys started selling his own mixtures of nutritional supplements to generate extra income while working as a sales rep at a gym. This side job became so lucrative that he registered it as a business, which has since become one of the world’s leading supplement brands. 

finweek spoke to Geldenhuys about his journey in setting up the business.    

What did you do before you started USN?

Coming from a family of civil servants, I never dreamt of starting my own business. I pictured myself climbing the ladder at the police force as my dad and granddad did before me.

After spending six years in the police service, mostly as a forensic artist, I hit a rut and decided to go into sales at what was then known as the Health & Racquet club in Hatfield.

What triggered your interest in the supplement market?

I have always been passionate about health and fitness, so was interested in the way in which nutritional supplements could enhance people’s health and performance; especially after the hype around ex-Springbok rugby player Percy Montgomery’s transformation when he started using creatine in the late 1990s. 

How did USN develop out of this?

The market was already quite saturated at the time, but local products were generally of poor quality while imported products were exorbitantly expensive. 

I started reading everything I could about health supplements – from scientific research to popular articles and product reviews – and then started experimenting with my own formulations. 

I mixed them in my kitchen in an old hand-cranked Sputnik washing machine. 

The initial idea was to make some money on the side, but word of mouth led to sales doubling each month. 

That’s when I realised there was a real business opportunity. I registered USN towards the end of 1999 and contracted a pharmaceutical company to mass produce the formulas. 

The business was making around R20 000 in just a few months, which was a fortune for somebody like me who used to earn R1,800 a month in the police force.

Where did you get start-up capital?

I sold my bakkie for R30,000 and then bought a cheap little Uno for making deliveries.

After seeing how well the business was doing, my dad also signed surety for a R100,000 credit facility.

I have never been comfortable with debt, so initially only bought raw materials as and when I had the cash. 

All our energy was spent on growing sales and having enough product to meet demand. 

Why did you call the brand USN?

USN is the abbreviation of Ultimate Sports Nutrition. 

I chose the abbreviation because the “US” subconsciously made people associate the product with the USA, which at the time was perceived as being the best at everything. 

I was also fortunate to rent office space at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which allowed me to put their address on our labels. 

This made people think the company was linked to the CSIR and added “credibility” to the brand.  

How did you differentiate yourself from the rest of the market?

Our products were of the same quality as the high-quality imported products, but slightly cheaper because we manufactured locally. 

I built a 60% mark-up into prices to make some room for error and to grow, improve and experiment with new formulations. 

Where the majority of the imported products targeted the bodybuilding market, we differentiated ourselves by being less intimidating to break into the health and fitness market…..

Finweek.com: Read the full article

Related reading:

Read more

Obituary: Tom McLauchlin, a titan of sustainable packaging and business in SA

Obituary: Tom McLauchlin, a titan of sustainable packaging and business in SA

WHEN Tom McLaughlin died recently on the Isle of Wight (UK) – having moved there from Cape Town just over a year ago – it put a tragic end to his particular brand of packaging professionalism and thought leadership. He left us, however, with an inspirational yardstick for emulation, writes his great friend, Gill Loubser of PPM Magazine.

Read more

Accredited R638 training now online – practical, engaging, affordable

Accredited R638 training now online – practical, engaging, affordable

In the first of its kind for South Africa, Entecom has launched an online SETA-accredited R638 Food Safety Training solution to assist the industry with compliance to the new R638 training requirements for the person in charge.

Read more

SAAFoST’s 23rd Biennial International Congress and Expo

SAAFoST’s 23rd Biennial  International Congress and  Expo

There are three months to go to the commencement of this year’s premier event of the South African food and beverage industry.

Read more

Dysfunctional municipality chokes Astral

Dysfunctional municipality chokes Astral

It is not common for a large listed company with thousands of employees to publish a formal announcement warning shareholders that up to 40% of its production is under threat due to interruptions of basic services. 

Read more

We tested baby food sugar levels in South Africa. This is what we found

We tested baby food sugar levels in South Africa. This is what we found

South Africa has the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world, with an alarming figure of 13%, while the global average stands at 6%. One of the main causes is the rapid growth of the country’s commercial food industry, and an increased consumption of cheap, easily accessible and ultra-processed food high in sugar.

Read more

CBD derived from dagga now legal in SA

CBD derived from dagga now legal in SA

South Africa has just officially changed its legal rules on cannabidiol or CBD – a compound derived from cannabis which is known for having medicinal properties, such as treating muscle pain and helping to manage cancer patients’ symptoms – and the shift is drastic.

Read more

Finding the sweet spot in the sugar industry

Finding the sweet spot in the sugar industry

Hot potatoes have become Mamongae Mahlare’s thing. Having worked for years in the alcohol industry helping manage the Tanzania and Mozambique businesses of industrial giant SAB Miller, Mahlare has – since March last year – been MD of Illovo Sugar SA, part of Africa’s biggest sugar group.

Read more

The future of food, at Africa’s Big 7 expo

The future of food, at Africa’s Big 7 expo

Africa’s food industry is set to be disrupted by the 4th Industrial Revolution, forcing more agile approaches and more innovation to future-proof businesses, say experts set to speak at a key upcoming food and beverage event in Jo’burg in late June.

Read more

Cultivar branding of SA produce: a game changer for growers

Cultivar branding of SA produce: a game changer for growers

Fresh produce branding is gaining momentum as farmers seek to ensure a market for their fruit in an industry where supply is dramatically increasing. The success of the ClemenGold mandarin brand has spearheaded the marketing of specific premium citrus varieties.

Read more

Latest Trends Reports!

Millennials not eating tuna? It’s really not about the tin openers

Millennials not eating tuna? It’s really not about the tin openers

Is there anything baby boomers won’t accuse millennials of killing off? First it was napkins, then cereal, golf, out-of-town supermarkets, raw meat, hotels, chain restaurants and now, canned tuna.

Read more

Functional Foods & Beverages: Key Trends 2019

Functional Foods & Beverages: Key Trends 2019

As brand owners, from the giants to the smallest of startups, have found to their cost, no matter how smart your company is we are all at the mercy of trends. The power to influence them is limited. Success comes from keeping an eye on the approaching waves, and if they’re right for your brand, catching them at the right time and successfully surfing them.

Read more

US: Pasture-raised eggs soar in popularity

US: Pasture-raised eggs soar in popularity

The bar is rising for what’s considered a happy chicken, sparking the hottest trend in the US market: the pasture-raised egg.

Read more

The era of the mindful consumer

The era of the mindful consumer

The Waitrose & Partners Food & Drink Report 2018-19 shows how mindfulness of well-being and environment are having a huge influence on the way we shop and eat today.

Read more

Mintel announces three global food and drink trends for 2019

Mintel announces three global food and drink trends for 2019

Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, has announced three forward-looking trends which will lead the momentum of global food and drink innovation in 2019 and beyond. And you can download a FREE comprehensive report!

Read more

Provenance powers success at premium prices

Provenance powers success at premium prices

Provenance, authenticity and artisanal processes are transforming mainstream food-bev categories. The idea of “provenance” – having a back-story anchored in heritage and trust and perhaps made in a traditional, artisanal way – is now entering the strategies of largest companies, according to 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2019, the annual trend report from New Nutrition Business.

Read more

Whole Foods’ Top 10 Food Trends for 2019

Whole Foods’ Top 10 Food Trends for 2019

Phil Lempert, known as ‘The SupermarketGuru’, is one of America’s leading food and consumer trend-watchers and analysts. Here’s his report on what trend-setting US retailer, Whole Foods – now owned by Amazon – predicts for the F&B development in 2019.

Read more

Catering to ‘The Adventurous Consumer’ is key for 2019: Innova Market Insights

Catering to ‘The Adventurous Consumer’ is key for 2019: Innova Market Insights

Targeting increasingly adventurous consumers, set on new discoveries and experiences, will be key to developments in the food and beverage industry in 2019, asserts Innova in its latest report on trends for 2019.

Read more

How technology, consumer habits, industry dynamics are changing the future of food

How technology, consumer habits, industry dynamics are changing the future of food

These days, everyone is talking about the future of food, and with good reason. With population growth, climate change and technological innovations, the landscape today isn’t the same as it was yesterday and it won’t be the same tomorrow.

Read more

Why people in rich countries are eating more vegan food

Why people in rich countries are eating more vegan food

Interest in vegan food has been booming across the rich world. Celebrity claims of veganism are everywhere: Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Serena and Venus Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Mike Tyson, Beyoncé, take your pick….The Economist takes a look at this burgeoning trend.

Read more

Latest Food Science, Safety & Ingredients

Latest Food Science, Safety & Ingredients: More

Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter! It's free!

On Facebook