A new industry for an organic soil nutrient is expected to employ 30 people in Kawerau thanks to a chance discovery following oil exploration surveys in the 1950s.
Fulvic acid is a water-soluble material found in a part of soil called the humus, and is the result of a combination of several acids created when organic matter decomposes.
In what is believed to be a first for the country, New Zealand exports of the organic soil nutrient – discovered by accident in a Southland farm – have launched into the US.
A deposit of fulvic acid covering one square kilometre – and believed to be worth millions of dollars in processed form – was discovered following oil and gas exploration surveys in the 1950s.
Deposits of this size are rare by international standards with only a few countries around the world able to extract fulvic acid for nutritional products.
The refined humus is processed into a liquid and marketed as a dietary supplement designed to support immunity, nutrient absorption and natural energy levels.
Now the first 1.5-tonne shipment of the product from NZ has left for the US market and is being sold through Amazon – believed to be the first time this nutrient has been sold into the North American market.
The nutritional business will be a significant boost for the Bay of Plenty economy with a planned factory upgrade to process the mineral in Kawerau for export markets, says NZ Fulvic director Rhys Brooking.
The Kawerau factory will eventually employ 30 locals as they seek to grow international and local distribution volumes.
Rhys says the product has been well received in the domestic market having launched here just 14 months ago. “Internationally, there is a well-established market for fulvic acid amongst consumer seeking to support their dietary needs – we believe the purity of the NZ product is well-positioned to help capture a share of this wellness market.
“Farming techniques can remove the nutrient from the soil so even people who have a diet rich in vegetables may benefit from supplementation with nutrients such as fulvic acid,” says Rhys.
The soil extraction process used to extract the nutrient involves filtering the soil to separate the fulvic acid from the humus with the land later carefully reinstated – in line with NZ Fulvic’s organic approach to production.
Rhys says they’re currently producing a nutrient-rich fertiliser product that is organically certified and are working on certification for their fulvic acid supplement as well.