Kiwi nutraceuticals target US

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Natural products Nutrition Us

New Zealand natural products companies are increasingly targeting the lucrative US nutrition market, estimated to have consumer sales of more than $101.8bn, according to the country’s NZ Trade and Enterprise organization.

Probiotics company Blis and Quantec are just two recent examples of NZ companies which have signed deals to import health products into the US, said Jennifer Barclay, business development associate of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

Quantec signed a distribution agreement with US-based ET Horn, which has a nutraceutical arm, to market and distribute natural extracts. This followed Quantec’s discovery of a way to fractionate cow's milk, drawing out immune proteins that help fight skin ailments from acne and tinea to gum disease.

$1bn industry

The company’s managing director, Dr Rod Claycomb said the deal opened up a $1bn industry to the company. Natural preventive products are less vulnerable to global recession than other products, he said. "The people that would buy this product tend not to be as hard-hit by the recession as other markets might be. They're willing to pay a premium for knowing where their products come from,"​ he added.

Blis has agreed a 50-store trial of its anti-sore throat probiotic with the warehouse club chain Costco.

The company also recently launched a new probiotic called M18 which is claimed to benefit dental health. M18 is included in a children’s oral care product from US dietary supplement manufacturer Nature’s Plus.

The main type of bioactives produced in NZ occurs in the nutraceuticals and supplements sector which account for about 50 percent of companies and revenue, said Trade & Enterprise. This is followed by the functional food and ingredients companies.

Cosmeceuticals and ingredients is the smallest sub-sector in the NZ natural products industry.

The US is the largest export market for NZ companies which have a domestic market of only 4.5m people. Consequently companies, including those operating in the natural products sector, look to grow export sales.

The US is attractive not just because of the market’s size and potential for niche products but also because of consumers’ awareness and education about health and wellness topics, according to Trade & Enterprise.

Innovate bioactives

The nation’s biodiversity is also claimed to help it develop innovate bioactives. More than 80 percent of the country’s plants are found only in NZ including horopito, an ancient medicinal herb that was first used by the Maori. It is now used for intestinal candidiasis and mouth and throat problems. Horopito has been commercially available in the US for over 17 years.

Meanwhile, the US nutrition industry expanded 8.7 percent in 2008, ringing up total consumer sales of $101.8bn, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

It estimates domestic consumer sales will reach more than $140bn by 2013.

The main categories are functional foods which accounts for 36 percent of total sales, natural and organic foods at 29 percent and supplements at 25 percent with natural and organic personal care and household products accounting for 10 percent.

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