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SARS Boosts Comvita's Propolis Sales to Hong Kong

SARS Scare Boosts Comvita's Propolis Sales to Hong Kong

The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong has resulted in a scramble for Comvita New Zealand's propolis products in the former British territory.

Comvita's new Hong Kong-based regional manager, Sam Tsoi, says his countrymen are starting to recognise that propolis helps strengthen the immune system.

Speaking from the natural health products company's Bay of Plenty head office, Tsoi reports that the health authorities in Hong Kong are suggesting people take responsibility for their own health and take steps to build up their immunity to viruses - as well as advising residents to wear masks and not venture outdoors.

"People are learning they are more at risk if their immune system is deficient," says Tsoi. "As propolis' reputation for supporting the immune system becomes better known, Hong Kong residents are stocking up on it."

Comvita reports its personnel are working overtime to meet the sudden demand for propolis in Hong Kong. Already, it has despatched four major air consignments of the bee product to that destination. The product is available in tablet, capsule and liquid form and also used in cough elixir and throat lozenges.

Comvita's CEO Graeme Boyd says propolis is one of the company's major export products to Japan and other Asian destinations. However, exports of the popular bee product to Hong Kong have been comparatively low until now.

"It's no coincidence that propolis exports have suddenly taken off to that destination. Since the SARS outbreak, we have been flying pallet-loads of propolis out to Hong Kong," says Boyd.

"There's a strong conviction among Asians that propolis has very strong immune-supporting properties. This undoubtedly accounts for the upsurge of interest in propolis among Asians - not only overseas but here (in New Zealand) also."

Dr Caroline Davy, an MD who provides consultancy services to Comvita, says propolis is often referred to as nature's best defence.

"Comvita's propolis comes from unspoilt areas of New Zealand where certain deciduous trees such as willow, birch and poplar produce natural sap and resins with high flavonoid levels," she says.

"It's actually the concentration and variety of flavonoids which give propolis its exceptional health benefits. Much of the research surrounding flavonoids at present is centered on their antioxidant effects and the natural protection they offer.

Note: Anyone concerned about the SARS virus or possible contact since travelling should seek immediate professional advice from a doctor.

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