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Selection For UK Natural Products Market

New Zealand - The Natural Selection For UK Natural Products Market

Auckland, April 2, 2002 -- Six New Zealand companies seeking a part of the huge UK natural products market will share a pavilion at the Natural Products Europe show in London next week.

NZ Vitalife, Clinical Technology, Living Nature, Phytomed Medicinal Herbs, Hokianga Seaweed Products Ltd and ENZO Nutraceuticals are attending as a joint export network, supported by Trade New Zealand. The group approach allows the companies to save on costs and maximise their profile at the show, which is expected to host more than 600 exhibitors.

The network members produce a range of natural products with a particular focus on the complementary health sector.

Trade New Zealand Account Manager Fiona Murray says the mission is particularly well timed.

In the wake of the BSE and e-coli food scares and the on-going debate over GM, attitudes toward natural products have undergone a revolution in the UK, with consumers increasingly concerned about what goes into the products they use, she says. Close attention is paid to labelling and consumer information on packaging.

This shift has not been confined to food, says Ms Murray. Paralleling the surge in interest in organics has been an upswing in other areas of the natural products market.

In the UK, the natural beauty products market - first brought to the attention of the British public by the Body Shop chain in the late 1970s – has become well established. Concern with the body beautiful has been matched by increased awareness of personal health. Interest in the medicinal uses of natural products is also at an all-time high in the UK.

The total natural medicines, supplements and alternative remedies market in the UK is now estimated to be worth just under $NZ2 billion (around £5-600 million) a year.

A range of social factors is at work, says Ms Murray. Aided by the explosion of Internet sites, many consumers are exploring information on a range of treatments, including conventional and complementary and ‘integrated medicine’ programmes.

New Zealand producers are perfectly poised to capitalise on these changes, Ms Murray says.

The industry has a number of advantages over the competition. The country's native flora and fauna, which already yields unique therapeutics, is an unexplored treasure trove of biologically active agents. New Zealand has possibly the best animal health record in the world and an enviable international image as being clean and green. A strong R&D sector is also on hand to develop product and processes.

``To compete, New Zealand companies will have to work hard to differentiate themselves in the market through effective marketing and promotion. They are going to have to research the market thoroughly, create a distinctive brand, find the right distributor and position their products correctly. And even then they are going to have to fight to maintain their share of shelf space.''

Clinical Technology marketing and sales manager Tim Lightbourne agrees. ``Highly professional presentation and ongoing promotion is essential,” he says.

Distance from market means product presentation is critical, he says. The faux-handmade is out.

“You have to worry about what the look of the product says to the customer.''

Correct labelling and abundant consumer information is vital. Relying solely on vague claims of being ‘clean and green' is no longer good enough, says Mr Lightbourne. British buyers want proof - they want to know what's in a product and where the ingredients came from.

Mr Lightbourne attended the London show last year and as a result established a number of UK distributorships. The GNC-Livewell chain of stores currently stock Clin-tech's natural sports cream Percutane in over 50 stores.

Also at last year's show was Andrew Fowler and Dr Caroline Davy of NZ Vitalife. Mr Fowler says the Papamoa-based company uses a novel alcohol-free system to process medicinal herbs into preparations for both humans and animals.

Mr Fowler says: “We are the only certified organic herbal range in New Zealand, and we believe we have got the only alcohol free certified range of herbal products in the world.” A number of rural Maori communities in the East Cape and Bay of Plenty regions grow herbs as well as Manuka, for the company. Vitalife's marketing material tells this ‘story' and features the koru symbol, which represents new life.

Phil Rasmussen of Phytomed Medicinal Herbs says besides sheer quality of raw materials and products, the New Zealand industry must differentiate itself from that of the rest of the world by innovation. In practical terms this equates to novel combinations of herbs, superior processing and palatability, he says.

``But at the end of the day it's about efficacy.''

Mr Rasmussen, a pharmacist and phytotherapist by training, says besides its natural advantages, New Zealand has a tradition of scientific agronomy and food processing to call on, as well as a good science infrastructure in place.

The companies attending Natural Products Europe (7-8 April) are:

Clinical Technology: Formed in 1999 to market clinically developed and tested natural injury and health products. Clin-tech will be represented at the show by Mavco Health. (www.clin-tech.com)

ENZO Nutraceuticals: Christchurch, New Zealand-based ENZO is a science-based company that produces Enzogenol, a broad spectrum of antioxidants purified from fresh New Zealand pine bark using patented pure water technology. Recent clinical trials with Enzogenol have shown significant protection against cardiovascular risk factors and oxidative stress. (www.enzo.co.nz)

Hokianga Seaweed Products Ltd: Prepares a liquid seaweed soil conditioner by a process of natural fermentation in rainwater. (www.biohoki.co.nz)

Living Nature: Living Nature produces a unique skin and body care range that utilises the medicinal properties of many New Zealand plants, honeys and clay. With one of the only natural preservative systems, they are one of the purest most natural brands in the marketplace. The company is also using New Zealand extracts to help conditions like eczema and acne. (www.livingnature.com)

NZ Vitalife: Based at Papamoa, near Tauranga, NZ Vitalife produces a certified organic range of alcohol free herbal extracts and remedies and operates as a joint venture with Te Whaaro Trust in the Bay of Plenty. (www.nzvitalife.co.nz)

Phytomed Medicinal Herbs: Manufactures and supplies liquid extracts and dried herbs to health practitioners and other herbal manufacturers. At the show the company will introduce a new range of organic herbal formulations, designed for sales through retail outlets, and produced and sold under the Kiwiherb brand name. (www.kiwiherb.co.nz)

Ends

About Trade New Zealand:

Trade New Zealand is the Government’s trade and investment promotion agency, mandated to help increase New Zealand’s foreign exchange earnings and encourage inward direct investment and business location. www.tradenz.govt.nz or 0800 555 888.


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