Down Under Enterprises grows, produces, exports, and markets traceable
and sustainable native Australian essential oils and botanicals grown on our farm, Buhlambar, and from small growers across Australia producing unique essential oils and botanicals from plants native to Australia.
It has been a year unlike any other, and here at Down Under we’ve been navigating the twists and turns of 2020 like everyone else. As the dust settles on the year that caused such global disruption, we reflect on the year that was.
2020 was big for Tea Tree! We were inundated with requests for Australian Tea Tree Oil from very early in the pandemic, and by March we had closed our order books. Our 2020 harvest in June was fully allocated by the end of that month. We were told by our customers that this increased interest was driven by their consumers wanting natural antimicrobials and in particular, antiviral ingredients.
The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) reported this month that 1,050 metric Tons (MT) of Tea Tree Oil were produced in Australia in 2020; this is a new record surpassing the 2018 production total of 1,008 MT by over 40 MT. Yet in spite of this record production, available stocks are virtually non-existent. However, subject to climatic conditions, 2021 harvests could yield another record year, over 1100 MT and, if all producers have a ‘perfect’ season this could perhaps go as high as 1,250 MT. We are investing in further plantings to make sure global demand is met.
On a similar note, we have lab testing in the pipeline for Tea Tree demonstrating its ability to kill SARS CoV2 (Covid-19) at very short dwell times. To be the first to know about this and other Tea Tree Oil updates – sign up here. We also brought some new botanicals to market this year too – these include our Manuka, Buddha Wood and Eucalyptus Kochii Essential Oils.
We’re going to take a little time out (23 Dec to 03 Jan) and we’ll be back with more news and innovations next year. Until then, we wish you and your families good health, joy, and peace for the holidays. We look forward to connecting again in 2021.
Thanks for reading.
A survey conducted by Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine, found that of the 4,000 US female beauty consumers who participated, a large percentage (78%) reported experiencing regular acne flare ups. Finding acne products that work is a challenge for acne sufferers; 74% indicating their current acne treatments only somewhat work for them.
57% of consumers said they trust both synthetic and natural ingredients to fight their acne, while 24% trust synthetic ingredients more and 15% natural ingredients more. Tea Tree Oil rated highly for having been tried and found to work at 34%, while 42% had not tried it.
The top acne-specific product used by all age groups was a cleanser 75%, followed by acne moisturizer 52% and spot treatment 50%.
When looking for new acne products, surveyed beauty consumers prioritize affordability (67%), consumer claims and product reviews (52%), ingredients (46%), percentage/strength of active ingredients (37%) and natural ingredients (26%). Other Acne topics in the news: Maskne blog
We are really excited about the R&D activities being conducted at Buhlambar – some things just cannot be rushed. A result of a three year R&D effort, we identified higher yielding and more appealing aromas for some of our product lines. These results will help us expand our offering in years to come.
In particular, we identified an amazing chemotype of Lemon Scented Tea Tree (Leptospermum petersonii), based on aroma and GC characteristics, that will be planted in the new year. We cannot wait for you to try it out in a couple years when the plants mature.
This month we caught up with Mother and Son team, Lucy and Marco Brunato, whose family has been sustainably growing, hand-harvesting, and processing our Dried Tea Tree Leaf since the 1980’s.
1. How long have you been involved in growing Tea Tree?
Our family has been growing and harvesting Tea Tree since the late 1980s, initially harvesting it in the bush on our property where Tea Tree natively grows, and later with small-scale plantations. At the time a wood-fired steam still was used to process the oil from Tea Tree, before building a diesel-based steam still later in the early 1990s. Our family began processing dried Tea Tree leaf in the mid-2000s as an alternative to producing oil.
2. Where is your farm/land located?
Northern Rivers region of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia.
3. What are some of the traditional therapeutic applications of Tea Tree Leaf used by the Australia Aboriginal people?
Anecdotally we know that the crushed leaves of Tea Tree were traditionally used as an antiseptic paste by many Aboriginal communities, particularly among those on the eastern coast of Australia.
4. What kind of products include Milled Tea Tree Leaf in their formulations today?
It’s a popular addition to many eco and natural skincare products such as facial exfoliants, soaps and scrubs.
5. What sustainability practices do you have in place on your land?
We run a very small-scale Tea Tree operation, cycling between areas every few years when harvesting Tea Tree leaf for dried leaf production. It is a very natural and sustainable process, given the area in which it is grown is the native habitat of the plant. No pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals are necessary or used in the harvesting or production. Harvesting is done by hand, so there is very little impact on the surrounding environment. Tea Tree is an incredibly regenerative plant and is easily able to regrow over a period of a couple of years.
What is your role at Down Under Enterprises?
Officially my title is Head of Marketing & Operations. In reality, since we are a small, family owned business, the management responsibilities for the company are split between Dee-Ann (our founder and my wife) and me. So as with many small business owners, I also wear other ‘hats’ during the typical day – IT Systems, Quality and Regulatory, R&D, and even Legal - and work with our team members to implement our programs. It can be challenging, but our team is great and handle much of the day to day responsibilities. Still, every day is a different challenge.
What did you do before joining the team at Down Under?
Believe it or not, I held various management positions with global Medical Devices companies. On the surface, it seems a long way from essential oils, certainly the farming activities. But in fact everything I’ve learned from 25 years of global responsibilities in the Medical Device industry is now being applied to Down Under. One of the most important prior learnings now applied at Down Under is the review of scientific publications and how to translate these data into clear product benefits. There are hundreds of papers on the therapeutic and functional properties of essential oils being published every month – we are at an exciting time in the world where modern science and medicine are recognizing the benefits of naturally active compounds. If/when the Regulatory environment adapts, we will see some very interesting opportunities for naturals.
What led you to want to work in the natural products industry?
I never thought I would be here. My wife founded Down Under in 2001 and in the early years she was a one-person wunderkind. I did help her with the marketing and certainly managing the tradeshows and other events – but it was all her. I really enjoyed these touchpoints – but the Medical Devices industry was my passion. As the company grew, the demands outstripped her capacity. At the same time, I found myself working crazy hours and constantly travelling for work. At one point, Dee-Ann and I discussed that, IF we could somehow handle working together (big IF) we could do some amazing things with Down Under. So, I took the leap and have been loving it ever since.
What do you love most about what you do?
I don’t know if there is any one thing. Honestly, it’s great to work on so many exciting new areas. Whether it is a new Marketing campaign, developing new plantings at our farm, and even working on new research initiatives like our patent-pending Zero Carbon Distillery technology. There is just so much to love about what I do each day.
What is your favorite way to spend the weekend?
What’s a weekend?
As part of their Business Sustainability Risk and Performance Index, EcoVadis has produced a tool that allows people to benchmark their country against others, and even the global standard for sustainability performance.
Australia continues to do well in this regard. While we definitely are not resting on our laurels, so we continue to challenge ourselves to improve our EcoVadis ranking each year. Stay tuned for more on this in the new year with our new audit results.
Interestingly, in their research, they found that small and medium-sized companies typically perform better than large ones. Click HERE to see how your country compares in sustainability globally.
Melaleuca alternifolia Essential Oil, commonly known as Tea Tree Oil (TTO) was investigated for its efficacy when incorporated into bicontinuous microemulsions (BME).
The researchers noted that TTO is already widely used for its healing and antimicrobial action and is also being successfully incorporated into drug delivery systems.
The authors incorporated TTO (3.45% v/v) in a formula containing Kolliphor® HS 15 (31.05%), Span® 80 (3.45%), isopropyl myristate (34.5%), and distilled water (31%), to investigate suitable topical applications and efficacy.
In conclusion, the authors noted that in vivo studies demonstrate that BME loaded with TTO may contribute to the healing process of skin wounds. In addition, the formula loaded with TTO demonstrated antibacterial activity for Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. From these findings the researchers determined that a BME system loaded with TTO is promising as a healing and antimicrobial agent for skin wounds.1
Tea Tree Leaf – the Eco Exfoliator
The UN Global Compact partners committed to ban microbeads from cosmetic products by June 2020. These microbeads were identified as a major source of micro plastics ocean pollution.
Tea Tree dried leaf (coarse) possesses the same properties as the Essential Oil and makes for the ultimate ecofriendly exfoliant for skincare products. The leaf also retains the natural water-soluble properties of Tea Tree leaves, making it ideal for problem skin. Product applications include face and body scrubs, soaps, and face masks.
Tea Tree dried leaf is an ecofriendly product with exfoliant, and therapeutic properties that provides an alternative to microbead exfoliants.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE WORKING WITH AUSTRALIAN TEA TREE DRIED LEAF
BENEFIT 1 – A great natural textural addition to formulations
BENEFIT 2 – Visually interesting, especially in gels
BENEFIT 3 – Uses the whole tea tree leaf, not just the oil
BENEFIT 4 – Sustainable Mother/Son farming story
i. de Assis KMA, da Silva Leite JM, de Melo DF, Borges JC, Santana LMB, Dos Reis MML, Moreira VM, da Rocha WRV, Catão RMR, Dos Santos SG, da Silva Portela A, de Sousa Silva SM, de Oliveira TKB, de Souza da Silveira JW, Pires EG, Nonaka CFW, Sanches FAC, de Lima Damasceno BPG. Bicontinuous microemulsions containing Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil as a therapeutic agent for cutaneous wound healing. Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2020 Dec;10(6):1748-1763. doi: 10.1007/s13346-020-00850-0. Epub 2020 Sep 13. PMID: 32924099. [LINK]