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Mussels and joints: A homegrown Kiwi advantage

By RJ Whitehead , 26-Aug-2014
Last updated on 26-Aug-2014 at 16:38 GMT2014-08-26T16:38:57Z

Aroma's mussel farm in New Zealand
Aroma's mussel farm in New Zealand

Over half a century ago, Ben Winters Sr arrived in New Zealand from the Netherlands and soon established Aroma NZ, a manufacturer of freeze-dried marine products including green lipped mussels.

Today, his son, Ben Jr, helps him in running a company that is determined to take its nutritional supplements further into Asia, where he believes anti-inflammatories and other products derived from shellfish would provide a high-quality alternative to what is available on the market there.

Land of the pure

We’ve been exporting to Asia for the last 10 years, though not in large volumes—just bits and pieces, really. Our main markets are in the US, Europe and Japan, so the rest of Asia is our big focus at the moment. We are just starting to find connections to grow our volumes,” Winters Jr told FoodNavigator-Asia, adding that New Zealand’s reputation for purity and quality is Aroma NZ’s main differentiator with the competition.

At the moment, our main product is the green lipped mussel, which is only found in New Zealand. We can offer a clean, green, eco-friendly raw material produced in our pristine waters in New Zealand

It’s a very sustainable resource. We have a large marketing advantage by being down here with New Zealand’s clean image. For example, a lot of Chinese don’t trust some of the locally made products that they see on the shelves. The big thing for us is to give them a very good nutritional product with great traceability behind it.”

According to Winters, green lipped mussels are the next great super food, but have yet to fulfil their potential in the global market place. They are filter feeders that contain the whole range of amino acids, have a full fatty acid profile, and contain vitamins, minerals, ectoproteins, natural glucosamine and lipids.

The new super food

Basically there is everything in just one mussel. There is so much punch in there with bioactivity and natural anti-inflammatory activity, and this is backed up by research we did with the University of Queensland. We have been selling it as a supplement for 20 years and the demand is increasing as people keep coming back because it works so well.”

The natural market for Aroma NZ’s products is among the elderly, who benefit from the mussel’s anti-inflammatory properties that work for joint health. The company will be launching new products later on this year, including a water-soluble version of its green lipped mussel supplement in sachet form. Along with a new marine collagen product, Aroma NZ is trying to “catch a large enough chunk of the Asian market”.

We are up against glucosamine products, and the fact our brands come from green lipped muscles is our point of differentiation. It is getting very competitive out there so we have to make sure we have that point of difference,” Winters added.

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