ASX-listed Bod Australia has signed an exclusive Heads of Agreement (HOA) deal with New Zealand-based mānuka honey producer, Mānuka Pharma, for the development, manufacture and supply of a hemp-based, high-methylglyoxal mānuka honey product line.
Under the HOA, Mānuka Pharma will source, develop and manufacture the product, while Bod will import the finished product into Australia for packaging under Bod's brand and logo, or any brand or logo chosen by the company.
Bod says the product will be a "highly complementary expansion of our nutritional product portfolio". The firm already has its Pinpoint cognitive health product and turmeric-based Flexofytol joint health supplement. It says it will also explore additional cosmetic and supplement product lines featuring mānuka and hemp.
Bod Australia CEO Jo Patterson said: "This is a highly complementary partnership for the business, as it will not only enhance our nutritional product portfolio, but it will also provide an additional revenue stream for the company in the near term.
"Following the development and manufacture of the product, we expect to realise sales in Australia during the first half of 2018, with sales into Asia and other regions such as the UK and North America to follow.
"Mānuka Pharma is renowned as a provider of the highest quality mānuka products in the world, and we look forward to working with them on a range of cosmetics and supplements for Australia and international markets."
Global import demand for mānuka is estimated to be about US$2.1bn.
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Bod says it will generate initial sales through its established relationships with pharmacy banner groups and independents within Australia, while also targeting health food and supplement stores.
As part of the agreement, Bod will also leverage its access to Asian markets, most notably in China, through its daigou relationships.
"Expansion into additional key markets throughout both North America and Europe will also be pursued, and the company looks forward to updating shareholders on these expansion plans in due course," said the firm.
Hemp mānuka is the latest in a new wave of products starting to filter into the Australian and New Zealand markets, after the long-banned product was finally permitted for food and nutritional use in November.
The two companies say the the initial finished hemp mānuka product will provide high-quality protein and essential fatty acids from the addition of hemp seeds, as well as the health benefits of a high-grade, high-MGS mānuka honey.
"These benefits are well documented and include a reduction in stomach acids and acid reflux, combating staph infections, improving sleep quality, and the prevention of tooth decay and gingivitis; it may help treat acne and eczema," they added.
Bod currently has access to over 800 pharmacies, and is also targeting Asian markets through key daigou relationships.
It is also building a cannabis business through a supply and collaboration agreement with Swiss botanical extract manufacturer, Linnea Natural Pharma Solutions. The company aims to develop a range of over-the-counter and therapeutic products based on GMP-certified cannabis extracts in the near future.