According to the Australian firm, the native plant has natural antibacterial, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
These are “all attributes that people are looking for right now,” said Australian Native Products CEO James Gosper.
According to Gosper, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a jump in enquiries relating to hand sanitiser and a 70% increase for cleaning products as the world responds to the COVID-19 crisis
The company claims to be the largest producer of Australian lemon myrtle, but the spike in demand has pushed it to convert an entire farm in Queensland dedicated to growing lemon myrtle.
“In the space of a week, our Mareeba farm has gone from turning 95% of its harvested lemon myrtle into dried leaves, to distilling 100% of the crop into essential oil. We’re expecting to produce more than 300 litres of lemon myrtle essential oil between now and June,” said Gosper.
According to the firm, demand currently outstrips supply and it is currently two-thirds of the way through planting 180,000 new lemon myrtle and anise myrtle trees in order to keep up.
This will allow the company to supply its products overseas where it is also seeing growing interest.
In the meantime, the company will continue to monitor the situation closely and try to meet the demand.
“If we need to continue to increase oil production, we will do so to try to meet this demand. Unfortunately, supply is limited, so we must do all we can to service current and new customers,” said Gosper.
Natural antibacterial alternative
Gosper explained that the antibacterial benefits of lemon myrtle were uncovered nearly a century ago in 1925.
Since then, researchers around the world have studied the antimicrobial properties of lemon myrtle essential oil and extracts.
It was found to be a broad-spectrum antibacterial, making it an effective antiseptic and surface disinfectant.
Researchers from Queensland have also found it to have greater broad-spectrum antifungal activity in comparison to standard antifungal agents.
“The powerful properties of native Australian ingredients are still largely unknown internationally and as the largest global producer of lemon myrtle, we hope to uncover their benefits so people can enjoy them in the long term for their health and wellbeing,” said Gosper.
He expects the profile of lemon myrtle will continue rising especially with the ongoing pandemic and the consumer demand for natural products.
“It’s a part of the larger shift in consumer awareness about health and wellbeing. People are interested in knowing about the ingredients they’re putting on their skin and lemon myrtle is a natural alternative to harsh chemicals traditionally used in hand sanitisers.”
In the future, the firm believes it will continue to see demand for lemon myrtle grow even after the pandemic blows over.
“The demand for lemon myrtle over the past month indicates that consumers are seeking natural beauty and personal care products with ingredients like lemon myrtle,” said Gosper.
“Manufacturers want to develop products with a shorter ingredient list and greater transparency, which is why we’ve seen a growing demand for our pure lemon myrtle essential oil, which allows them to do this.”