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Comvita May Use Prestigious Award For Research

Comvita May Use Prestigious Award Winnings To Further Research

High profile health products company Comvita New Zealand, winner of the prestigious 2003 Consumer Products Exporter of the Year Award, may now be able to fast-track plans to link the propolis science communities of Japan and New Zealand.

Comvita was one of several select category winners to emerge from the Trade New Zealand Export Awards announced in Christchurch last week. The Export Awards dinner featured the year's most influential gathering of exporting talent.

Presenting the award, CEO designate of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tim Gibson, said the award was a reflection of Comvita's entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen. It entitles Comvita to undertake an international business exchange as part of a World Class New Zealand Business Internationalisation Grant.

Valued at $9000, the grant is part of the World Class New Zealand programme that aims to build business capability by connecting New Zealand industry with world class expertise. It allows the winner to send a staff member overseas or bring an international expert to New Zealand, to improve global competitiveness and foreign exchange earnings.

Comvita's CEO Graeme Boyd, who collected the award in person, said today the grant could be used to help link the propolis science communities of Japan and New Zealand.

"Propolis, which is a unique by-product of the honeybee, accounts for a significant portion of our exports - especially to Asia," Boyd explains.

"We have been developing the idea of linking New Zealand scientists with their Japanese counterparts to conduct research into the immune-supporting properties of propolis. The Business Internationalisation Grant may well go toward this." Boyd says the Consumer Products Exporter award is recognition of Comvita's exports which have been growing at 50 per cent per annum since the late 1990s.

"Last year, exports officially accounted for around half our sales, but in reality about 75% of our products end up offshore - the balance either exported by other enterprises or taken home by international tourists."

A key achievement has been the rapid growth in exports to Australia since Comvita entered that market in 1999. With annual sales of about $2 million last year, Australia is now its largest export market. The UK market is a close second with large sales of manuka honey and remarkable success with Manukacare 18+ active manuka honey, a topical application for wound care.

Sales throughout Asia are also growing strongly - boosted recently as Asian consumers reached out for products such as propolis to build up their immunity against the Sars virus.

Last year, Comvita established its first 100% subsidiary offshore in Japan, part of its strategy to become more involved in its offshore markets in order to maximise export opportunities and control its future.

To finance its growth, the company also entered the Unlisted Securities Market with 130 shareholders investing in the business.

Comvita exports to 10 countries, with major markets Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and the USA. The company manufactures and markets a wide portfolio of natural health products derived from honeybees. These include honey, pollen and royal jelly as well as propolis.

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