The product is also launched in the US.
Sharing a similar name with the famous Manuka honey, Meluka honey is produced from bees that harvest from the Melaleuca Alternifolia species of the tea tree, while the former is produced from bees that harvest from the Leptospermum Scoparim species of the tea tree.
The Meluka honey probiotic tonic contains six probiotic strains, namely lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus bulgaricus, bifidobacterium lactis, and saccharomyces cerevisiae.
It claims to benefit the gut and could be taken on its own, mixed with water or added to drinks and smoothies.
Ben Rohr, COO of Eve Investments and CEO of Meluka Australia, told NutraIngredients-Asia that the launch was to take the medicinal angle of the company’s honey products further.
This is on top of the other honey products that the company has in its portfolio, such as the tea-tree infused honey and native wildflower honey – also its best-seller.
“We realised that through the explosion of a lot of these fermented drinks, as well as the explosion in the use of probiotics, generally in the tablet form, there was an opportunity to leverage our honey which has its natural sugar that ferment really well.
“It also provides an interesting delicious flavour. It kind of captures the all-in-one solution rather than having to take maybe kombucha and also a probiotic tablet.”
He said that each strain was added at five different stages of the bio-fermentation process – which in its entirely could take two to three months.
The product was launched in Australia in mid-March and a stock was on its way to the US during end March, early April for sale on the company’s website and Amazon.
He added that the company had beefed up its production only within two weeks of launch and there were plans to introduce other flavours on top of the current lemon-flavoured product.
Firms are increasingly interested in exploring probiotics in the form of functional foods to overcome issues such as pill fatigue.
China firm ICS Biological Technology is one example which has launched a probiocoffetics – which is a coffee created by fermenting coffee beans with probiotics.
Aussie start-up Kréol, on the other hand, has developed a line of dual-strain sparkling probiotic beverages for supporting the gut health.
Meanwhile, Meluka Australia has also reassured shareholders that its supply chains to China and the US remained fully operational despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
The company had sent three pellets of its raw organic honey products recently and on the fourth week of March, a pellet of its newest product – a probiotic concentrate with Meluka honey which claims to support gut health – to the US.
For China, its shipment of 21,144 units of honey was sent out in early March and this was followed by another order of 57,600 units of its tea tree oil in the same month.
This is despite how COVID-19 has paralysed much of the world’s supply chain and production operations.
To do so, the company has contracted additional freight and logistics services to ensure exports were maintained, the company said in latest ASX statement released on Mar 26.
It has also beefed up its production by running two shifts per day.
Vertically integrated benefits
Rohr said that being vertically integrated has helped to mitigate supply chain challenges brought by the COVID-19 disruption.
“We manufacture most of our products, we are pretty much vertically integrated as a company where we control each part of the supply chain.
“It is in times like this that this really becomes a big benefit, because we can lockdown a lot of the risk ourselves by good management of staff.”
Nonetheless, he acknowledged that how deliveries would take a longer time.
“Obviously with what's happening in the US, deliveries are taking a little bit longer, but really, overall its being a minor impact at this point.”