The NZ deer industry has agreed to support one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies in its plans to develop and market a product with proven health benefits based on NZ deer velvet.
On Wednesday, the chief executive of Yuhan Corporation Jung Hee Lee and the chief executive of DINZ Dan Coup signed a memorandum of understanding in Wellington. It was witnessed by minister of agriculture Damien O’Connor and the Korean ambassador Seung-bae Yeo.
Mr Lee said Yuhan’s objective is to successfully develop, register and market a health food product containing scientifically validated components of New Zealand deer velvet. This will be a world-first, he said.
In recent years a number of Korean companies have developed easy-to-consume formulations based on deer velvet and herbal ingredients which they market generically as health foods. In this case, Yuhan will be carrying out the research needed in order to make a legally valid claim that its ingredients have a health benefit.
“AgResearch and Yuhan scientists will be working together to build on existing scientific knowledge. AgResearch is recognised internationally for its knowledge of velvet processing techniques, the composition of deer velvet and the potential health benefits,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Coup said DINZ and Yuhan have a shared interest in the registration of NZ deer velvet as a health functional food.
“If this is achieved it will further strengthen the reputation of NZ deer velvet as a natural, safe and quality food ingredient in Korea.”
He says DINZ will work with Yuhan to help promote the “New Zealand velvet story” and support the successful launch of its velvet products where appropriate.
“The two parties may also co-fund some specific areas of research and marketing activities, but these will be subject to separate agreements.”
Ashley Kyung-in Chung, head of Yuhan’s food and health marketing team, said the company would be investing a minimum of $1.5 million on research with AgResearch and had budgeted for the substantial costs involved in registering a functional food claim and taking a product to market.
She said Yuhan had chosen New Zealand as the source of velvet because of the country’s transparency on three fronts – the farming environment, animal welfare and the traceable and hygienic supply chain.
“Yuhan is one of the most respected companies in Korea – consumers trust us and trust our partners. We travel the world looking for ingredients that are produced in systems as close to nature as possible and where animals are treated with care – that’s why we have come to New Zealand. Velvet from other countries does not have the same standards as New Zealand.”
As part of its market positioning, Yuhan has also signed an agreement with Alpine Deer Group.
“In our marketing we will be using images and videos of one of Alpine’s iconic high-country deer stations that will be one of our main sources of velvet. Our marketing materials will strongly reflect our connection with New Zealand as both the source of our velvet as well as the technology we are using to bring innovative velvet-based products to the market,” Ms Chung said.
The Yuhan Corporation is one of South Korea’s largest pharmaceutical companies, with a sales turnover of approximately US$1.18 billion. Approximately 9% of its revenue in 2016 was reinvested into research and development.
The signing of the MoU: Yuhan Corporation chief executive Jung Hee Lee and DINZ chief executive Dan Coup (seated). Standing are the Korean Ambassador Seung-bae Yeo and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor.