That's the spirit: Aussie brand growing business with unconventional omega-3 source — emu fat

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

Emu Spirit's products are developed using 100% pure emu oil extracted from the fat of the large flightless bird that is native to Australia.
Emu Spirit's products are developed using 100% pure emu oil extracted from the fat of the large flightless bird that is native to Australia.

Related tags: emu oil, Australia, omega-3

An Australian supplement firm is gaining traction in Asia with its health supplements made using oil from an unconventional source: emu fat.

Established in 1993, Emu Spirit is one of Australia's largest manufacturers and exporters of emu oil-based products, developed using what the firm calls Oil of Emu — 100% pure emu oil extracted from the fat of the large flightless bird that is native to Australia.

Brand manager Misa Ton told NutraIngredients-Asia​: "Our emu oil is derived from the layer of fat between the muscle groups and skin of both male and female emus. This raw product is then developed with our patented process OilTek to become Oil of Emu."

Bird-based benefits

While Aboriginal Australians have used emu oil as a natural form of anti-inflammatory therapy for thousands of years, the ingredient is not commonly used in many Asia-Pacific countries.

According to Ton, the company was the world's first to have its emu oil tested for oral consumption. Its natural anti-inflammatory properties stem from its abundance of menatetrenone (MK-4), a potent form of vitamins D and K2.

This in turn can benefit consumers suffering from inflammatory-based conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches, joint stiffness, eczema, psoriasis and rashes.

In addition to MK-4, emu oil — which is bacteriostatic, hypoallergenic and non-comodogenic ​ is rich in omega-3, 6 and 9, as well as vitamins A and E, which is said to support the maintenance of healthy hair, skin and nails.

These cosmetic benefits are attributed to the presence of fat lipids in emu oil, which are similar to those found in the top layers of skin.

Furthermore, emu oil is said to help boost the immune system through its vitamin A content, which can protect against coughs, colds and the flu, and alleviate allergic symptoms.

Emu oil's shelf life is usually three years, and has no known reactions with medications (though consumers are advised to consult their pharmacists or GPs before using it).

Emu Spirit’s natural therapy range consists of three products, one of which is Oil of Emu Omega 369 Capsules. The gelatin capsules contain solely linolenic acid (omega-3), linoleic acid (omega-6) and oleic acid (omega-9), and are meant to provide temporary relief from symptoms of conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and PMS, as well as discomfort associated with eczema and psoriasis.

The company's Oil of Emu is also sold in 125ml, 500ml and 1l bottles, and can either be applied topically or ingested orally to soothe the aforementioned conditions, in addition to dermatitis, sunburn and nappy rash.

Additionally, Oil of Emu also comes in the form of the brand's Muscular Arthritic Rub, made with a blend of natural plant oils and 59% Oil of Emu to provide relief from pain and stiffness resulting from arthritis, muscle tension, and sporting injuries.

Apart from this, the brand carries a natural skincare range, also made from Oil of Emu.

Regulatory reliability

With Emu Spirit’s products being fully Australian-made, the brand boasts the kind of positive reputation many other Aussie supplement brands enjoy, thanks largely to the stringent standards set out by regulatory body the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Ton told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that the company was the world’s first to have its emu oil listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG); the latter was achieved after assessment by the country’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for quality and safety.

She said: "Our entire therapeutic range is listed on the ARTG, and one of our proudest achievements was having eight countries — including all of Australia's Olympic track and field team — use our products, during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games."

Emu farming is a highly regulated industry, with all farmers requiring a government licence to operate.

Ton further said: "The Australian emu industry has a competitive advantage over the industries in other countries, where much of the emu oil comes from genetically inferior ex-zoo stock.

"The farming and feeding of emus plays a significant part in the quality of emu oil. Therefore, we make sure our emus are sourced from reputable licensed emu farms. We carefully monitor their living conditions, and our emus are free from growth hormones and antibiotics.

"We exceed normal industry practices to produce a more active oil by only using three-year-old emus that have been through a normal breeding season, rather than emus processed just prior to their first breeding season."

She added that the TGA requires the firm to conduct a 'thorough analysis' of every batch of emu oil it produces to ensure consistent quality and bioavailability of omega-3, 6 and 9, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K.

Emu Spirit's health supplements and skincare products are currently sold in pharmacies and health food stores in Australia, as well as via its online shop in Singapore and Hong Kong.

While the firm has not revealed whether it has plans to expand its existing product range or enter other markets, Ton said it is "open to opportunities from overseas distributors"​.

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