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.
The personal care market has seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior towards products that can prove their safety and origin as well as their company ethics. Ingredients are being held to a higher standard and the industry needs to meet this both from a brand perspective (that moves away from greenwashing), all the way through its supply chain to the practices of their ingredient growers.
Unfortunately, there has been a decline in Australia’s ranking on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals Index this year, according to a report by KPMG that was commissioned by AgriFutures Australia. The report highlights that rural industries must improve their sustainability credentials to compete in a global market.
This week, a newspaper article was published that reports on this issue and features Down Under Enterprises as a business that has adopted the benchmarking of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Read the article here.
Sustainability and Traceability were built into our farm practices from its inception. Some of our sustainability goals were achieved because of our team days at the farm. You can watch a behind the scenes video below of some of our team days working the land and also the farm's evolution. You can hear more about traceability and our relationships with our growers from our Order Fulfilment and Inventory Manager, Michael.
This month we feature our growers from Darwin in Australia’s tropical North who harvest Blue Cypress Oil. This little-known wood oil has been slowly carving its way in the personal care market with its unique skin applications such as melanogenesis inhibition and anti-inflammatory properties, and striking blue color. Its color is reminiscent of German (Blue) Chamomile however it has quite a different fragrance and place of provenance. Luckily for this oil the generously sized Government Plantations where it is managed and harvested allows for a long-term view of availability in supply.
All the best – stay safe - and enjoy this month's newsletter. Thank you.
Euromonitor research reveals consumers are prioritizing product safety and ethical sourcing.
A significant shift in consumer behavior in selecting beauty and personal care products is underway. It is thought that consumer responses to Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines is significantly influencing this new direction, as well as its amplification by the pandemic.
Research by Euromonitor International reveals that consumers were, until recently, prioritizing product benefits over company ethics. It appears the impact of Covid-19 is making consumers dig deeper into the credentials of product origin and safety. While product claims such as ‘natural, hydrating, no parabens, antioxidant and organic’ ranked highly with consumers in 2019 – this year has seen a dramatic change of focus.
In 2020, consumers are prioritizing company ethics – ‘safety, transparency, efficacy, ethical sourcing and sustainability’. This is a dramatic shift in just one year.
A Euromonitor representative suggests that the term ‘natural’ is waning in terms of consumer interest and brands need to demonstrate safety, provenance, sustainability, and transparency of their ingredients.i
Sustainable and Traceable supply underpins the way Down Under Enterprises has always operated.
“Traceability is at the heart of our operations. We like to know where our oil comes from and who our growers are.” says Michael Kielb, Down Under’s Order Fulfilment and Inventory Manager. Michael continues, “There was a recent case where we stopped working with a supplier because we couldn’t get full traceability on oils. Traceability is that important to us!”
At Down Under, we have worked with many of our growers for over 15 years. Many of them are “mom and dad farmers”, who love working the farm and producing beautiful Australian essential oils. These same people depend upon Down Under to market and sell their farm production. At the same time, we as a company have a responsibility to make sure our growers are also evolving in their sustainability practices. We spend a lot of time with our growers helping them implement some of the same practices we have implemented on our own farm, Buhlambar, and within our company. As a member of the United Nations Global Compact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have an obligation – and a written plan – to make these actions happen. The benefits from these initiatives flow all the way through our supply chain to you and your customers. It is a truly rewarding feeling to now see consumers also placing significant emphasis on Sustainability measures in their purchasing behaviors.
Our farm, Buhlambar [BUH-lam-bar, meaning “home of Tea Tree”] has come a long way since its creation in 2016. We have made some big changes and developments such as the in-ground irrigation system which forms a core element of our water management practices, a commitment to our UN Sustainable Development Goals. Further works on the landscape design and plantings on the farm and especially our koala habitat. Our team trips to the farm have been a big part of developing these projects. Watch some of the highlights and fun in our Team Farm Evolution video. Our farm tours have been a popular event with our customers far and wide and we hope to be able to resume these tours as soon as you are able to visit us again.
We caught up with Vince Collins, our Blue Cypress grower from Australia’s tropical north.
1. How long have you been involved in growing Blue Cypress?
I’ve been involved in the industry since the 90’s – when the first laboratory analysis of Blue Cypress was conducted on 25th February 1995.
2. Where is your farm/land located?
I harvest Blue Cypress as part of a contract with the Australian Northern Territory government. The plantation is located 45km outside of Darwin.
3. What are some of the traditional therapeutic applications of Blue Cypress used by the Australia Aboriginal people?
The aboriginal people used the needle of the plant to repel lice from their hair and soothe their sore eyes. The blue oil was never produced by Aboriginal people, but concoctions were made from the tree for various ailments such as for pain relief, burns and healing body sores.
4. What kind of products include Blue Cypress in their formulations today?
The oil is known for its woody fragrance and is used in perfumes and various skincare and haircare products. It helps with dermatitis and alleviates itching. It is also used in some products as an antiviral [e.g. warts] and to treat skin blemishes.
We believe it has some insect repellant properties and as such we have a clinical trial coming up with the University in Queensland to investigate this further.
5. What sustainability practices do you have in place on your land?
We try to be as sustainable as possible. I am contracted to thin out the forest so new growth can come through. This is part of a contract I have with the Government for their Sustainable Forestry Management. The plantation size is 496 hectares. The land is so vast the trees would more likely die of old age before we can thin out and harvest them all.
We do not use oil as an energy source for our distillation. We use LPG gas which we pay a carbon offset to Origin energy. Our distillation equipment runs on solar power, during the day. We will be installing batteries to store the excess power that we can generate with the existing solar panels and inverters, this will cover most of our existing power consumption. The base load electrical power in Darwin NT is natural gas. We also harvest within 2 km of our distillation plant.
Meet Down Under’s Order Fulfilment and Inventory Manager, Michael Kielb.
What is your role at Down Under Enterprises? My role is Order Fulfilment and Inventory Manager. I am responsible for the accurate processing of orders to meet our customers’ delivery requirements. I also collaborate with our many growers across Australia to coordinate the stock required to fill our existing customer orders. I forecast our future stock needs based on historical sales data, current stock levels and future sales opportunities with a clear vision to the company’s strategic ‘focus products’ as well as revenue targets for the year. This activity supports stock holdings across our two warehouses, one located in Australia at our farm and the other in the US state of Ohio.
What did you do before joining the team at Down Under? Before joining Down Under, I worked for 15 years as the Demand Manager in Australia/New Zealand for a global medical book publishing company.
What led you to want to work in the natural products industry? After working in a global environment for over 15 years, it was time for me to move on and seek out my next opportunity. My job search led me to Down Under where it was important for me to contribute to a company that takes pride in their sustainable and traceable approach to business. And, the office is only a 15 minute walk from my home. Bonus!
What do you love most about what you do? I’m really enjoying working with all of our diverse growers, many of whom are farmers themselves. It’s been a welcomed challenge in developing these relationships which has helped me understand an industry that is new to me.
What’s your favorite way to spend the weekend? I find weekends pass by too quickly! I play softball with a local sports club. First base is the position I play. I enjoy catching up with friends for a drink at the pub and I dabble in a bit of baking. I’m told I make a mean brownie.
A Zero Carbon Essential Oil Distillery – one of a kind!
Down Under Enterprises in partnership with a 25-year Australian essential oil industry veteran is launching a new mobile essential oil distillery called ‘Mobile Essence’. The distillery operates entirely on solar power and hydrogen, resulting in zero carbon emissions. This will be the first of its kind in the market – globally!
This innovative technology (patent pending) is highlighting new ways of operating in an industry that is high in energy consumption and has traditionally used less sustainable energy sources to distil essential oils. Down Under Enterprises has made a significant investment in ensuring its operations into the future are sustainable and using renewable energy.
Furthermore, the Mobile Distillery will be available to harvest the oil from botanicals already growing on lands throughout the country. Landowners will benefit both from receiving income for the biomass (an income they didn’t have previously) as well as the ability to use the spent biomass as compost. Stay tuned for some of the action in the field from this exciting new venture in essential oils and Zero.
To receive updates on the Mobile Distillery, register your interest here.
Eucalyptol (1,8-cineole) as a potential adjuvant to flu vaccine.
The development of effective flu vaccines that protect against pandemic strains pose challenges due to antigenic drift and recombination of influenza viruses. Adjuvants help to create a more robust immune response in people receiving the vaccine. They improve the vaccine’s efficacy.
Researchers investigated the effectiveness of 1,8-cineole (Eucalyptol), administered via intranasal route, and its effectiveness as an adjuvant of the influenza vaccine. Co-administration of 1,8-cineole in two doses (6.25 and 12.5 mg/kg) with influenza vaccine was investigated in a mouse model.ii
The mice were inoculated with influenza vaccine and supplemented with administration of 1,8-cineole showed increased influenza-specific antibodies, showed longer survival time, and other improved health parameters, as compared to mice immunized with a non-1,8-cineole-adjuvanted split vaccine.
Their results suggest that 1,8-cineole (12.5 mg/kg) may offer cross-protection against influenza virus when co-administered with inactivated influenza viral antigen in a mouse model.
Please note that Down Under does not support animal testing however we do provide scientific evidence via historically available published papers.
The Azure Blue of Callitris intratropica.
An Australian ingredient relatively unknown to formulators is the multifunctional Callitris intratropica, commonly known as Blue Cypress Oil. The Blue Cypress tree is a botanical native to tropical northern Australia, and the essential oil is derived from the wood and bark of the tree – not the leaves. The vibrant blue color of this essential oil is due to the constituents Guaiazulene and Chamazulene - the latter is also found in the essential oils Blue Tansy (Moroccan Blue Chamomile) and German (Blue) Chamomile. Unlike these floral oils, Blue Cypress has a dry, woody aroma, with cedarwood like facets .
Blue Cypress is naturally high in many sesquiterpenes including Guaiazulene and Chamazulene, which are well known for their anti-inflammatoryiii properties. Chamazulene has been the subject of extensive research and is considered to have anti-oxidantiv and anti-inflammatoryv vi properties.
Like Chamomile, Blue Cypress Oil is now being included in haircare formulations such as shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray. Particularly rich in the skin therapeutic sesquiterpene, Guaiol, Blue Cypress Oil is now also being used in melanogenesis inhibiting skincare formulated to even out skin tone.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE WORKING WITH THIS PRODUCT
BENEFIT 1 – Well recognized anti-inflammatory constituents
BENEFIT 2 – Fully sustainable harvest practices
BENEFIT 3 – Demonstrated dermal melanin capability
BENEFIT 4 – Beautiful aroma compliments its functionality
ii. Li Y, Xu YL, Lai YN, Liao SH, Liu N, Xu PP. Intranasal co-administration of 1,8-cineole with influenza vaccine provide cross-protection against influenza virus infection. Phytomedicine. 2017 Oct 15;34:127-135. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.08.014. Epub 2017 Aug 18. PMID: 28899494.
iii. da Silveira e Sá Rde C, Andrade LN, de Sousa DP. Sesquiterpenes from Essential Oils and Anti-Inflammatory Activity. Nat Prod Commun. 2015 Oct;10(10):1767-74. PMID: 26669122.
iv. Capuzzo A, Occhipinti A, Maffei ME. Antioxidant and radical scavenging activities of chamazulene. Nat Prod Res. 2014;28(24):2321-3. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2014.931393. Epub 2014 Jul 1. PMID: 24980540.
v. Safayhi H, Sabieraj J, Sailer ER, Ammon HP. Chamazulene: an antioxidant-type inhibitor of leukotriene B4 formation. Planta Med. 1994 Oct;60(5):410-3. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-959520. PMID: 7997466.
vi. Ma D, He J, He D. Chamazulene reverses osteoarthritic inflammation through regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and NF-kβ pathway in in-vitro and in-vivo models. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2020 Feb;84(2):402-410. doi: 10.1080/09168451.2019.1682511. Epub 2019 Oct 23. PMID: 31642732.