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International fame for NZ skincare

Media Statement 23 May 2006

International fame for NZ skincare

Natural skincare and cosmetics company, Living Nature, is pulling together some internationally recognised scientists in a bid to create a range of new products from native plants that it hopes will make New Zealand skincare famous around the world.

The multimillion dollar project involves identifying, extracting and purifying native plant compounds for totally natural skincare use.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is investing $1.7 million through its Technology for Business Growth (TBG) programme. Living Nature will match this investment dollar for dollar, as well as committing its research and development team to the project. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) is contributing to the development and commercialisation of a global brand for Living Nature.

Living Nature is aiming to develop the world’s most natural and effective skincare ingredients using unique, native New Zealand flora. The ingredients will be subjected to rigorous scientific testing to prove safety and efficacy, enabling Living Nature to compete against big-name global skincare and beauty brands.

Six different science organisations are involved, including scientists from various Crown Research Institutes in New Zealand and others from Italy who have an international reputation for product testing.

Living Nature CEO, John O’Toole, says the project reflects a changing trend towards natural products in place of synthetic alternatives.

The international personal care and beauty product market is considered a $US100 billion industry, growing at around two percent annually but sales of natural products are growing at approximately 20 percent each year, says Mr O’Toole.

FRST Business Manager, Tom McLeod, says the Living Nature project links well with New Zealand’s international branding which pushes the 100% pure imagery and New Zealand’s reputation for world-class science and innovation.

“We could be sitting on an untapped goldmine,” he says of the collective amount of specialist plant knowledge locked up in different scientific organisations.

A high percentage of New Zealand flora is found only in New Zealand and has unique properties. Individual scientists have previously studied many of these plants and the Living Nature project will enable the knowledge to be gathered together and developed to produce commercial benefits for the whole country. Harvest and manufacturing processes will be investigated to ensure commercial quantities of new ingredients are readily available on a sustainable basis.

“This puts New Zealand in an ideal spot in the international market, given the rapid growth in demand for natural beauty and healthcare products. It has potential to create extraordinary value for New Zealand and is a unique opportunity, connecting a brand with a market,” says Mr McLeod.

The project, involving nine separate studies, is being headed by Living Nature scientists, who will be working closely with Industrial Research scientists. The project will produce a suite of ingredients that can work together, with each being fully tested to the highest international scientific standards of proof.

Living Nature’s plans come as regulatory controls throughout the world are tightening, with skincare manufacturers being forced to provide accurate scientific data to prove the safety and effectiveness of products.

“There is lots of technical stretch and we expect some great technical breakthroughs that will make the world sit up and watch,” says Mr O’Toole. Living Nature’s existing range of natural skincare products are already attracting worldwide attention. Its preservative system, using plant extracts, replaces other more commonly used alcohols and synthetic parabens.

NZTE’s Lyn Bridger says the Living Nature products have the potential to become a truly global brand and a high value added product. In terms of world recognition, he likens the Living Nature initiative to the way New Zealand innovation, technology and natural environment have been leveraged to create a world-class film industry.

“Government assistance from the Foundation and NZTE will speed up Living Nature’s move towards becoming a world leader in the development of products that combine bioactive natural ingredients with a natural preservative system,” he said.

The project will generate significant foreign exchange earnings and profits for New Zealand and Mr O’Toole says it will create a billboard around the world for New Zealand and its native plants.

“It will give us strong scientific support that matches or betters large-scale brands and will focus attention on the truly natural ingredients of Living Nature’s products.”


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