Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Korean nod for NZ velvet heralds new era

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Health functional foods using Kiwi deer product approved by food safety authority.
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The approval by Korea’s food safety authorities of two health functional foods with extracts using New Zealand velvet opens an exciting new era for the industry, Deer Industry NZ manager markets Rhys Griffiths says.

The two newly approved claims were announced by the Korean Kwangdong Pharmaceutical health food company at the Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition research symposium in Busan.

The first two health functional food (HFF) claims are aimed at improving prostate function and anti-fatigue. 

“It is the start of a new era for NZ velvet in its top market.

“This is a very exciting for what it means for the velvet industry. This is a great first step and real opportunity for further moves in this space.”     

The Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy and Value-Oriented Life symposium was attended by 2300 delegates from science and industry, including representatives from key health food customers for NZ velvet, KGC, Kwangdong, Yuhan Care and HY, the Korean version of the Yakult probiotic drink. 

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Korean representative JongKyu Jang and Griffiths attended the symposium.

“This symposium was all about NZ velvet and there are more very exciting opportunities unfolding,” Griffiths said.  

Asia has an ancient tradition of using deer antlers to promote rapid healing, growth in children and blood flow, but research results through clinical trials had been lacking, Kwangdong’s senior researcher JinSoo Kim told the symposium. 

The company’s clinical research focused on new complex extracts, containing NZ velvet, targeting prostate function, anti-fatigue and growth in children, among others.

After visiting NZ in 2017, Kwangdong selected NZ velvet, which met its stringent grading and quality specifications for health functional food products. 

Through clinical trials, the company began investigating the potential of using NZ velvet as an ingredient used in several complex HFF products.

Human clinical trials for the new prostate function extract had showed good results especially for improved urinary flow rate, Kwangdong scientist KiWong Lee reported. 

In July, the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) approved the prostate function and anti-fatigue claims made by Kwangdong, which were backed by peer-reviewed results. 

As a result, Kwangdong can now use these claims in its new products launching next year.

Kwangdong expects it to serve as a starting point for future deer antler-related business.

“It’s a big thumbs up for the new DINZ strategy of targeting health food products,” Griffiths said.

Other Korean health food companies are also exploring opportunities for NZ velvet and he expects to see more claims approved in the future.

Health functional food supplements, estimated by Kantar research conducted for NZ Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to be worth around $6 billion in the Korean market in 2022, are one of the three legs of DINZ’s velvet strategy to lift farmgate returns. 

The other two are healthy foods and traditional medicine.

During his market visit, Griffiths also met with other key partners for NZ velvet, including the Korean Ginseng Corporation, Yuhan Care, MFDS and other traditional buyers.

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