Totara tree extract now big business

Kiwi companies making products, including toothpaste, that contain an extract from totara trees are riding a wave of global demand for natural healthcare.

Wairarapa-based Mende Biotech has spent around 17 years and $3 million developing a process to extract the antimicrobial chemical compound found in totara trees that makes the wood resistant to rotting.

The company supplies the commodity, which sells for around $1,350 a kilogram, as an ingredient in products ranging from toothpaste to anti-acne cream.

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