Its first batch of supplements – which comes in hard-gelatin capsules – obtained the status in early November after passing the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) testing regime in the US.
The testing program assesses the presence of 483 drugs, including 272 drugs that are banned by various sports organisations.
The entire assessment, spanning from the manufacturing facility to the finished product, took about three to four months, Campbell Berry-Kilgour, director at Mountain Red told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Having passed the assessment, the firm will start to offer a Certified for Sports grade product which can be identified by the BSCG seal.
Consumers can also check the batch number printed on the product to verify the ‘sports grade’ status.
All subsequent batches of the products have to be produced in the certified facility and sent to the US for testing for it to be certified ‘sports grade’.
Despite the logistical arrangements involved, Berry-Kilgour believed that this was necessary for consumers assurance, especially because the industry had come under fire for questionable products in recent years.
“In the past three years, consumers have been confused between powdered deer velvet antler supplements and IGF-1 spray.
“The latter is purportedly from deer velvet antler and we are not sure if they are. They do not have a positive status in many parts of the world, and in some parts of the world, it is probably a banned substance.
“We want to address that confusion, and the only way we can do that was through third party testing, and we felt that the best fit was the BSCG,” he said.
Coupled with high profile cases of adulterated sports supplements in the country, he was further determined to reassure consumers of the firm’s product quality.
The company was also awarded the New Zealand Accreditation FERNMARK recently.
“We are very selective around sourcing of the material, because one of the questions that we were often asked is around animal welfare.
“We source from accredited suppliers in New Zealand and we are very particular that animal welfare is the number one tenant that they apply.”
In Australia, the company was also granted the therapeutic license. Each batch independently tested to ensure full compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) compositional guidelines for deer velvet antler powder.
From elderly to sports enthusiasts
The deer velvet antler, traditionally used in traditional Chinese medicine, was initially popular amongst older consumers, but has now attracted more sports enthusiasts, according to Berry-Kilgour.
He said that the firm’s biggest market was New Zealand, which had delivered a 100% growth – largely driven by sports recovery needs.
He estimated that about 60% of the consumers use it as a sports supplement, while the remaining 40% for joint health. Previously, the ratio was about 70% to 30% for joint health to sports supplement use.
He said that while the products are available online, in certain countries such as Australia, its available via the medical community and chiropractic practitioners.