Winery waste a promising venture
A Marlborough-based bio-tech company which started off in a garage and grown on "the smell of an oily rag" is ready to take production to the next level.
New Zealand Extracts was founded in 2006 when Glenn Vile approached Mud House Wine with the idea to extract the beneficial oils from grape skins and seeds – a byproduct of the wine industry.
Six years and a "modest" investment later, Vile said his products are starting to capture the interest in markets around the world.
"It's taken twice as long and cost twice as much – it's the usual story – but it's been a really cool journey in terms of product development and a great way to develop a new business within the structure of an existing wine business."
"We've been through the product development and marketing phases and now entering the selling phase where there is huge opportunity ... the whole world is out there."
Born in Marlborough, Vile went to Marlborough Boys' College, but said he was always keener on sailing and climbing mountains than going to school.
He has done years of research, analysing the chemical components of fruit and vegetables, in particular their seeds and their health benefits.
"Seeds are fascinating, they hold the very essence of life. A seed can sit in the ground for years, maintaining itself and waiting for the right conditions.
"It is these unique protective qualities that also help protect us from all sorts of health problems and why we are told to eat our five plus a day."
After moving back to Marlborough with his wife and three children, he developed a cottage industry pressing oils from seeds and nuts which led naturally to looking at the health benefits in grape seeds and skins.
Some "forward thinking" people from the Mudhouse Wine Group agreed to fund research to look at what could be done with what was essentially a waste product.
Dr Vile knew grape seeds held a special anti-oxidant beneficial for athletes' muscle recovery and helping to prevent heart disease, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's. He developed a "top secret" water extraction method to extract these oils from the seeds and skins without compromising its easily digestible, natural goodness.
"The natural extraction method is the corner stone of our business. Unlike other parts of the world where it can be a highly chemical process, our product remains very pure and retains all its benefits as found in its natural form."
The anti-oxidants are made into an edible powder for clients, which is added to functional drinks, muesli bars, capsules or cereals. It is also available in cosmetic form under their Vinanza label which is used by Wellington-based skin care company Antipodes.
Most of the product is exported, mainly to United States, and Europe, Taiwan and Japan, and understanding the regulatory requirements of countries and companies has been like jumping through a series of hoops, he said.
The next challenge is to tap into the vast natural products market and develop products people want, he said.
"The two biggest things we found was digestive health and weight management. Regardless of people dying of heart disease, most of the western world want to not feel uncomfortable after eating a huge steak and chips meal and want to be slimmer than they are."
In response, they have developed a product using kiwifruit and are looking at bringing a salesperson on board to join their small team of four, he said.
- The Marlborough Express