A Queenstown company has struck oil.
Wilding & Co has signed a multi-million dollar global deal with giant American corporation doTERRA to supply essential oil made from wilding pine trees.
Under the contract, Wilding & Co will supply oil from fast-growing Central Otago Douglas Firs for the next four years.
DoTERRA, the world’s largest essential oil reseller, launched its New Zealand Douglas Fir oil to 40,000 delegates and an online audience of two million at a convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, last Thursday.
A video showed delegates how Queenstown’s scenery was at risk from a “giant tsunami” of wilding pines - and how turning the pest into a valuable product could help solve the problem.
Wilding & Co director Michael Sly, who shared the stage last week with two top doTERRA executives, says the big corporate is marketing the lemon-scented oil as a therapeutic product and it will also use it for byproducts like soaps and creams.
Feedback on both the product and the environmental angle was positive, Sly says: “I was getting pulled aside to be congratulated and have selfies for two days straight.
“It feels fantastic to have achieved our goal of finding a global partnership that can make a real difference to the wilding pine problem.
“We are on track to be scenting the homes of millions of people for Christmas around the world.
“We are looking forward to seeing how we can work in Queenstown and the Otago/Southland region over the coming years to have a positive impact on our wilding pine challenge.”
Sly, a perfumery entrepreneur, and his local business partners Mathurin Molgat and Dave Turnbull have been experimenting with wilding pine oil for five years.
Molgat says they’ve invested more than $300,000. DoTERRA executives have been impressed, he adds, with what they’ve achieved in a short time, including patenting their own mobile still.
“It’s a kind of Kiwi ingenuity, you could say.”
Molgat says they’ve managed to not only make an oil that’s distinctly different from any other pine oil, but provided an incentive to rid the landscape of a pest.
Initially, their company will be taking out Douglas Fir wildings at Beaumont, near Lawrence.
The area provides a greater continuity of supply than the Queenstown region at this stage, Molgat explains.
He says they’ll process needles and branch material from hundreds of preconing trees a day, then airfreight several drums of distilled oil over to Utah every week.
DoTERRA’s chief executive officer David Stirling and their chief scientist visited Queenstown in June.
“They wanted to know we could deliver over the four-year contract,” Molgat says.
On the video shown at the product launch, Stirling says “the aroma is absolutely amazing and so different from what we have with other conifers”.
“Working with the government there, they think this is an incredible solution to solving a very difficult environmental problem.”