The new deal will place Plandaí’s extract in dietary supplements marketed by USN, a comprehensive health and nutrition supplement brand. The company is committed to science-backed products, as is Plandaí, said Plandaí’s vice president Callum Baylis-Duffield.
Plandaí, which has a corporate office in Logan, UT but sources its raw material and does its processing in South Africa, began as an effort to rehabilitate a derelict tea plantation the country. The tea estate had gone to seed, literally, with the bushes allowed to grow into small trees and the processing facilities wrecked. After a number of years and a hefty infusion of cash, that process is now complete, said Baylis-Duffield.
“We have now rehabilitated the plantation and are producing product,” he said.
Live leaves key to process
Having its own tea plantation was absolutely vital to its production process, Baylis-Duffield said. Using fresh leaves processed rapidly preserves vital biological activity, he said.
“The theory is that because we use ‘live’ leaf, that bioenchances the product. We grow the tea on our own 8,000-acre estate. We pick the tea and process the live leaves with an hour of picking. The catechins are alive when they go through the system. We don’t take the product over 100 degrees Celsius, and we then release the catechins in a more bioavailable form,” he said.
Plandaí has built its business model around a propriety CRS processing and extraction system for live plant materials that alters the isomeric properties of phytonutrients in live plant material and rearranges them in a ratio such that they are significantly better absorbed.
According to Baylis-Duffield in human tissue antioxidants are normally found in both cis and trans isomer compounds in a 50/50 ratio.
However, flavonoids in green tea might have a 95:5 cis:trans structure, while lycopene in tomatoes usually has a 95:5 trans-to-cis ratio. In both cases, the bioactive components are therefore very poorly absorbed.
Plandaí’s process changes trans-isomers into the cis form (e.g.. for lycopene) or vice versa (changes cis-isomers into the trans form, e.g.. for green tea catechins and citrus limonoids and bioflavanoids), such that the end product is far more bioavailable, representing a step change in the industry, he said.
Cost in use
That bioavailability enhancement is a key to the marketing of the extract (which is represented in the US by NutraGenesis and in the UK by ProTec Nutra), Baylis-Duffield said. Like other high-tech, science-backed branded ingredients, the Phytofare extract is more expensive that a garden-variety green tea extract. But its bioavailability advantages—proven, he said, through work at Northwest University in South Africa—makes for a compelling cost-in-use argument.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you are selling, it always comes down to dollars and cents. No doubt our product is more expensive per kilo that the competitors, and I’m not ashamed to say this. We didn’t want to compete with the generics of the world. Our product is a branded product. We have to make sure we have the clinical data that separates us from everybody else. Our extract is at least 10 times more bioavailable than the comparator, which is a standard green tea extract,” he said.
The USN deal is for a weight-management supplement to be marketed in South Africa. But USN operates in 53 countries, and the plan is to expand Phytofare’s range through this network, Baylis-Duffield said.