A new fruit drink with 'real benefits'
POSTED: 31 December 2019
Tāwhiwhi Bioactives plans to launch a new fruit drink with 'real benefits', based on kiwifruit and other unique New Zealand ingredients including native flora extracts, specifically designed to support gut health.
The company was established in 2018 by Tuia Innovation’s Alan Groves and Dr Iona Weir, one of New Zealand’s most accomplished medicinal biochemists and the creator of the Atopis range of topical, over-the-counter treatment creams.
The two founders’ paths crossed when Alan was undertaking research on the Ngā Rongoā Rākau project funded by MBIE. He spoke to a number of noted scientists with expertise in the identification of native flora bioactives and the use of their extracts in innovative natural products.
Dr Weir was among the subject matter experts interviewed, and what a revelation! The West Auckland-based entrepreneur had analysed nearly all single species of native flora while Executive Director at BioDiscovery New Zealand, where she established the plant and medicinal screening programme.
Through this work she pioneered the development of bioactivity-led assays and had developed an exceptional understanding of our flora and fauna, demonstrating more knowledge about native flora bioactives than any other expert we interviewed.
What also emerged from these discussions was a shared interest in showcasing the inherent power of native flora extracts and concentrates by incorporating them in innovative new products, including functional drinks and foods.
One area of particular expertise for Dr Weir is kiwifruit, as she was part of the team that developed the gold kiwifruit cultivar and has also been responsible for the KiwiCrush and Phloe developments that specifically target Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and constipation.
She also created IBSacol, a plant fatty acid treatment for diarrhoea-dominant IBS, and pioneered the micro-encapsulation of probiotics.
We discussed the prospect of moving her knowledge base to the next level with a functional drink range based on kiwifruit and incorporating the extracts of native flora known to be beneficial to gut health, as well as manuka honey and probiotics. The concept of a range targeting various conditions was born, and the establishment of Tāwhiwhi Bioactives followed.
Tāwhiwhi is the Māori name of the native jasmine but also references the roots of various plants becoming entwined, with an order and a symbiosis. The functional drinks product range is intended to reflect this symbiosis.
During the past year Dr Weir has worked to refine the formulation and production process of the drinks, as well as the flavour profiles. At the same time Alan has led development of the new brand: Kaho, which is a Maori for tub or barrel in which drinks such as beer were fermented.
A provisional patent covering a critical part of the production process is soon to be lodged, the principals are now engaging with potential commercialisation partners and investors, and a clinical study is also in the pipeline.
So, expect to see the Kaho brand in the chilled drinks section of your supermarket and dairy during 2020. And if you have an upset puku, be sure to give it a go!