In an unusual reversal, a Warrenpoint herbal medicine company has been helped by Invest Northern Ireland to land a contract selling natural medicinal lotions, sprays and liquids to China where herbal medicine has been practised for thousands of years.
The small company, Botanica International, based at Narrow Water Castle, manufactures healing products for animals and humans using natural and non-toxic ingredients such as plants and herbs.
During an Invest Northern Ireland export scoping visit to China in 2005, a leading local Chinese veterinarian products company, Kangmu, took a strong interest in Botanica's products.
In a subsequent three month trial of the product at a veterinary testing centre, Botanica's product achieved a 90 per cent success rate, instantly establishing its credentials among local interested partners.
The company is also being assisted by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) which has facilitated greater communication between both sides, resulting in the signing of an export contract in June 2006. The contract will be for exports of Botanica products to China for the next 10 years.
Said Sean Cooney, Managing Director of Botanica International: "The role of Invest Northern Ireland, the British Consulate-General Shanghai and the British Embassy Beijing in facilitating Botanica International was extremely important. We knew our product was as good as the trials have proven, but it would not have happened unless we met the right people, and the Embassy was instrumental in this."
“Our products tap into a growing awareness of the advantages to natural ingredient and environmentally-friendly products among thoughtful consumers and producers in China,” he added.
Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, said: “This is a good example of a small company which is achieving success from initial market research conducted during one of our trade missions.
“We’ve also provided the company with expert advice and enabled it to access the UK trade network in China for on-the-ground guidance and support,” he added.
Herbal medicine has been practised in China for thousands of years and yet most products on the market today use ingredients derived from synthetic and chemical materials. Botanica is being advised by Invest NI’s Southern Local Office in Newry.
Botanica uses ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Comfrey, Oil of Lavender and Tea Tree Oil in a special cream with moisturising agents to fight infection and inflammation.