The firm is Australia’s only producer of Eucalyptus kochii oil, producing between 200 to 250 tonnes annually.
The Personal Care Products Council has approved Eucalyptus kochii oil (INCI: Eucalyptus leaf oil) as an ingredient.
This is different to an existing ingredient (INCI: Eucalyptus globulus leaf oil), which is used for all other species of Eucalyptus other than kochii..
Eucalyptus kochii oil could be used in a broad range of applications ranging from personal care products, cosmetics, to over-the-counter medications.
The primary therapeutic component found in Eucalyptus kochii leaves is a monoterpene known as Eucalyptol (1,8 cineole). The Eucalyptus kochii species offers the highest naturally occurring concentration of 1,8 cineole, typically more than 93%.
Other Eucalyptus species contain Eucalyptol at 69% (Eucalyptus globulus), 81% (Eucalyptus smithii) and 92% (Eucalyptus polybractea).
Phil Prather, head of marketing & operations at Down Under Enterprises, said Eucalyptol could be used in skin cleansing and mouthwash products for its anti-bacterial properties and plaque prevention.
The mucolytic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of eucalyptus oil also allows it to be used in OTC cough suppressants, lozenges, sinus sprays, and is even studied as a potential adjuvant to the flu vaccine.
Eucalyptol is a suitable masking agent to cover the unpleasant smell of ammonia in products such as hair dye.
Down Under Enterprises works with several farmers in the Western Australia region to harvest the Eucalyptus leaves.
The leaves are then steamed at the distillery, which breaks the oil cells on the leaves. The oil is condensed into a liquid and left to settle, similar to wine ageing. “It improves the aroma and allows us to do proper quality control assessment,” Prather explained.
The oil is currently exported to US, UK and Asia.
It has an exclusive distribution agreement with a Perth-based company Kochii Oil which retails products made using the eucalyptus oil for wholesale and retail, such as candles and soaps.
Bringing back Eucalyptus
As a by-product of timber and pulpwood production with heavy manual labour required, Eucalyptus oil originated from Australia, and was its first commercial export back in 1860.
However, after World War II, the cost of labour in Australia soared, resulting in Eucalyptus oil production moving outside the country, into China, Portugal and South America.
“It’s great to be able to bring back Australia's place as a supplier of Eucalyptus oil,” said Dee-Ann Prather, CEO at Down Under Enterprises.
“There is a lot of interest around the world for eucalyptus oil from Australia, because there's such a dominance of Eucalyptus oil coming out of China, and there's been a lot of supply challenges from COVID-19 and the trade wars.
“Our customers are looking into diversifying their supply chain to reduce their risk in their supply chain,” especially during unpredictable times.
The oil is produced from Eucalyptus kochii trees grown some 25 years ago in Western Australia.
Down Under Enterprises also produces and export other Australian botanicals such as lemon myrtle oil, sandalwood oil, tea tree oil, and macadamia oil.
The company operates directly in North America and in Australia, with partners in Asia and Europe.