Natural health, care for the environment, and a passion for New Zealand’s Primary industry have always been top of mind for Kerikeri entrepreneur, Max Donaldson.
When granted the opportunity to start his own business through the Lion Foundation’s Young Enterprise Scheme, 17-year-old Donaldson turned his hand to create a product that uses local ingredients to enhance health and wellbeing.
The result? GreenKiwi Supplements – New Zealand’s first-to-market locally grown Olive Leaf Supplement company.
“The science was clear. Olive leaf had been used for cardiovascular health and natural immune support applications for years, yet despite the strong demand, we were importing leaves from across the globe to fulfil New Zealand’s health and wellness market,” says Donaldson.
“We set out to change this linear way of thinking.”
By combining New Zealand bioscience and pioneering horticultural systems, GreenKiwi Supplement’s flagship product OliveXtract was developed.
Olive leaves, the product’s key bio-active ingredient, are sourced from olive oil producers throughout the temperate sub climates of New Zealand’s North Island, where Polyphenolic (the leaf’s micro nutritional compounds) are at their highest.
“GreenKiwi Supplements has given New Zealand grown olive leaves a whole new purpose, especially for olive oil manufacturers”, says Donaldson.
“It’s a synergistic relationship based on sustainable business ethics. There was an existing waste stream in the primary industry, and we were willing to help change that. It’s great for them in terms of enhancing the competitiveness of New Zealand’s olive oil industry, and it’s brilliant for us to reallocate the organic waste. This is where the FernMark values of kaitiaki and integrity make such a brilliant fit for our business.”
Donaldson describes GreenKiwi Supplements as a business that uses “world class talent from the local market” to provide a product that guarantees quality and traceability. He works with suppliers across New Zealand, including the Cawthron Institute and PharmaNZ, to batch test for quality and efficacy.
“It was never going to be a simple task to manufacture a stable shelf product that shared the same efficiency and quality of fresh olive leaf, but our collaboration with like-minded New Zealanders made it possible. They understood our desire to produce a game changing product, and together we did.”
Speaking of the FernMark Licence Programme, Donaldson says country of origin attributes have become increasingly sought after in domestic and international markets, making the FernMark a natural fit.
“Origin underpins everything we do. It can often be difficult for consumers to keep track of where their product has come from or how it was made. The FernMark provides a stamp of validation that connects our products to the end consumer, and is backed by government.”
He is confident the FernMark will help GreenKiwi Supplements to stand out on the world stage. The business’s first international market is the United Arab Emirates, where research shows discerning Emirati and high earning expats are focused on traceability, quality, and natural health choices.
In January 2022, Donaldson became one of New Zealand’s youngest entrepreneurs to attend EXPO2020 in Dubai, where he promoted GreenKiwi Supplements at the New Zealand pavilion in the sustainability district.
“Gaining consumers’ trust will be our main focus when breaking into new global markets. While we’re small and agile, in a competitive landscape it’s easy to get blocked out by large multinational corporations. I am a firm believer that you need young innovative brands to disrupt the marketplace, and that’s what the FernMark enables us to do. It gives prospective customers an immediate connection to the values that are so intrinsic to New Zealand’s reputation, something which is highly regarded and reputable in the UAE and other international markets.”
In addition to adopting the FernMark, GreenKiwi Supplements has utilised assets from NZTE’s Made With Care campaign, which is designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand food and beverage products.
New Zealand Story CEO David Downs says it is great to see young entrepreneurs like Donaldson turning their innovative ideas into reality.
“GreenKiwi Supplement’s focus on sustainability and nutritional well-being is a great example of a social enterprise leveraging the best of what New Zealand has to offer. We are delighted to have GreenKiwi Supplements join the FernMark Licence Programme,” says Downs.
Over the next five years, Donaldson’s ambition is for every pharmacy and natural health store in New Zealand to stock OliveXtract. He also wants to have secured interest in at least two more overseas markets.
Beyond this, he wants to diversify the business to become a bioactive ingredient supplier that utilises waste from other industries beyond olive oil, to manufacture new bioactive ingredients.
“New Zealand natural health products are underrepresented both here and on the world stage. We have an obligation to be part of that change. Sitting closely to our business and personal values of being pragmatic, innovative, and authentic, the FernMark will be a key part in our strategy to achieve exactly that. I hope to see not only OliveXtract, but the greater New Zealand bioactive supplier space succeed in representation, following in the footsteps of other Kiwi export success stories, such as mānuka honey and dairy.”