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Deer velvet joint venture aims for a “world-first”

Deer velvet joint venture aims for a “world-first”

The NZ deer industry has agreed to support one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies in its plans to develop and market a product with proven health benefits based on NZ deer velvet.

The Chief Executive of Yuhan Corporation Mr Jung Hee Lee, and the Chief Executive of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), Mr Dan Coup, this morning signed a memorandum of understanding in Wellington, witnessed by the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor and the Ambassador for the Republic of Korea, Mr Seung-bae Yeo.

Mr Lee said Yuhan’s objective is to successfully develop, register and market a health food product containing scientifically validated components of New Zealand deer velvet.

“This will be a world-first. In recent years a number of Korean companies have developed easy-to-consume formulations of traditional herbal products based on deer velvet, but none have commissioned supporting research in New Zealand to the same level of detail that Yuhan will do,” he said.

“AgResearch and Yuhan scientists will be working together to build on existing scientific knowledge. AgResearch is recognised internationally for its knowledge of velvet processing techniques, the composition of deer velvet and the potential health benefits.”

Mr Coup says DINZ and Yuhan have a shared interest in the registration of NZ deer velvet as a health food.

“If this is achieved it will further strengthen the reputation of NZ deer velvet as a natural, safe and quality food ingredient in Korea.”

He says DINZ will work with Yuhan to help promote the “New Zealand velvet story” and support the successful launch of its velvet products where appropriate.

“The two parties may also co-fund some specific areas of research and marketing activities, but these will be subject to separate agreements.”

Ms Ashley Kyung-in Chung, head of Yuhan’s food and health marketing team, said the company would be investing a minimum of $1.5 million on research with AgResearch and had budgeted for the substantial costs involved in registering a functional food claim and taking a product to market.

She said Yuhan had chosen New Zealand as the source of velvet because of the country’s transparency on three fronts – the farming environment, animal welfare and the traceable and hygienic supply chain.

“Yuhan is one of the most respected companies in Korea – consumers trust us and trust our partners. We travel the world looking for ingredients that are produced in systems as close to nature as possible and where animals are treated with care – that’s why we have come to New Zealand. Velvet from other countries does not have the same standards as New Zealand.”

As part of its market positioning, Yuhan has also signed an agreement with Alpine Deer Group.

“In our marketing we will be using images and videos of one of Alpine’s iconic high-country deer stations that will be one of our main sources of velvet. Our marketing materials will strongly reflect our connection with New Zealand as both the source of our velvet as well as the technology we are using to bring innovative velvet-based products to the market,” Ms Chung said.

Background information

Yuhan Corporation was established as a health company in 1926 by Dr Ilhan New. Today it is one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies, formulating and marketing high quality and innovative health products.

Yuhan’s 2016 sales turnover was approximately US$1.18 billion. Approximately 9% of its revenue was reinvested into research and development.

Yuhan’s mission is to create a balanced portfolio of health food products and supplements from the most natural sources for every life stage. Yuhan has been awarded the most respected company title in South Korea for the last 14 consecutive years (2017).

Yuhan has 220 highly trained scientists involved in product development and commercialisation.

For more information on Yuhan Corporation, refer to

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) is a marketing authority established by the Deer Industry New Zealand Regulations 2004 pursuant to the Primary Products Marketing Act 1953. Functions of DINZ relevant to the MOU with Yuhan are:

a. to promote and assist the development of the deer industry in New Zealand
b. to assist in the organisation and development of the marketing of products derived from deer
c. to assist in the development of existing and new markets for products derived from deer.

DINZ works closely with New Zealand’s leading Crown Research Institute, AgResearch, and has a joint venture partnership with AgResearch called Velvet Antler Research New Zealand (VARNZ).

For more information on DINZ, refer to


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