Accelerate July 2015

The sweet taste of innovation

open this image in new window: Manuka Honey production

The Manuka honey industry has shown remarkable growth over the past few years as its anti-bacterial qualities attracted the interest of the multi-billion dollar global nutraceutical market and health conscious consumers alike.

The manuka honey industry has shown remarkable growth over the past few years as the honey’s antibacterial qualities attracted the interest of the multibillion dollar global nutraceutical market and health-conscious consumers alike. Taking this valuable product and adding more value through cutting-edge R&D is proving to be a winning recipe for Te Awamutu-based company, Manuka Health New Zealand.

“Manuka Health is about producing natural health products; sourcing, harvesting and processing and taking products to the world designed to help people improve their health. Key to our development has been developing the scientific evidence to support our products,” says chief executive Kerry Paul.

This relentless focus on R&D has seen Manuka Health grow its market share in this highly competitive international sector, distributing to more than 45 countries and growing revenues to over $50 million since its launch in 2006. Through such product innovation, aided by Callaghan Innovation, it is aiming for an even greater share of the multibillion dollar international natural products segment.

Dr Owen Catchpole, an internationally renowned scientist and lead scientist at Callaghan Innovation, has been seconded to Manuka Health since 2012 to work alongside their R&D team. This direct access to scientific expertise, says Paul, has had a significant effect on their success.

“To have a scientist’s expertise in-house means it is much easier for us to access information, to get feedback quickly, and it can contribute in ways that you never thought possible. Through the Callaghan Innovation expertise, we have now been able to adapt the technology to the New Zealand environment and get it up and running much faster than we could ever do by ourselves,” he says.

Dr Catchpole combines his expert knowledge with that of Manuka Health’s international R&D collaborators. These include Professor Keiji Terao from Kobe University in Japan on cyclodextrins and Professor Thomas Henle from the Technical University of Dresden, Germany on manuka honey bioactives that help combat antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. 

“Both pieces of research were used to make an advanced natural bioactive supplement, CycloPower, designed to boost the beneficial properties of natural bioactives,” says Paul.

Callaghan Innovation also assisted Manuka Health with CycloPower’s product development by providing access to the Auckland FoodBowl facility, which Callaghan Innovation jointly owns alongside Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

“Dr Catchpole’s work at this facility enabled Manuka Health to produce CycloPower products at commercial scale. R&D funding from Callaghan Innovation including growth and project grants and training in lean management techniques have also made a significant difference,” says Paul.

With its continued focus on R&D, Manuka Health has recently opened a new $10 million honey processing facility and laboratory to continue to develop cutting-edge new products such as CycloPower.

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Updated: 4 September 2015