Indian herbal specialist ups coleus farming amid weight management demands

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Weight management demands in Japan, the US and Europe lead Olive Lifesciences to increase farming capacity
Weight management demands in Japan, the US and Europe lead Olive Lifesciences to increase farming capacity

Related tags Agriculture

Indian herbal specialist, Olive Lifesciences, has increased the contract farming for its lead product coleus, amid growing weight management demands for the extract from Japan, Europe and the US.

Coleus forskohlii​ is a native Southeast Asian plant – grown in the subtropical climates of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand - and a perennial member of the mint family. Its active constituent is Forskolin, used for weight management in the food and dietary supplements sector.

Dr Shiva Prasad, manager for research and technical affairs at Olive Lifesciences, said there is clear exponential growth in demand for coleus extract.

“Growing demand is coming from Japan, the US and Europe and is predominantly coming from the dietary supplements category,”​ Prasad told FoodNavigator-Asia.

He noted that these demands have snowballed in the last five months.

The company has been cultivating coleus since 2006 and the, “acreage of cultivation is increasing year by year,” ​he said.

Backwards integration important

Olive Lifesciences has contract farming for the coleus crop in the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The company is engaged in the entire manufacturing process for botanical extracts ensuring a “strong supply chain”,​ it said.

“The contract farming activity ensures our company gets raw material of the highest quality and the farmer in turn is assured of a good price for his produce,”​ he said.

“Backward integration is a core focus of our business,”​ he added, as it ensures consistency in yield, quality and variety for the herbal extract ingredient.

Production shifts

The extract is processed at the firm’s manufacturing facility in Bangalore, India, he said, and “currently we are manufacturing 10 tonnes of extract per month and this will be shifted to 15 tonnes per month.”

Increased farming should widen the company’s consumer base, he said, and “will definitely support our marketing activity in other countries apart from the US and Japan.”

The shift in farming will also give new challenges to the firm’s R&D centre opened in February this year in Bangalore, as the team will have to develop functional benefits of other parts of the coleus plant. He noted the company has commenced investigations into new functional benefits of the coleus leaf.

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