Natural products chemistry

natural products chemistry hero

We specialise in the isolation and identification of bioactive compounds from sources such as dairy, plants, bees, meat and fish.

These compounds can act as natural anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and anti-bacterial agents.


Our areas of expertise

Chemical analysis, separation and identification of new bioactive compounds

From any natural source, eg apiary, dairy, plants and microbes.

Support for new product development

  • Plant and microbial extraction, analysis of polyphenolics, flavonoids, pigments, essential oils and new bioactives
  • Formulation and stability assessment
  • Products such as nutraceuticals, natural medications and other bioactive products

Assessments of bioactivity

Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial assays. For a full list of our services relating to natural products chemistry services see Natural products chemistry services.

Case studies

Understanding the health benefits of manuka and kanuka honey

Manuka honey bee

Business opportunity
Comvita NZ teamed up with Callaghan Innovation and other R&D providers to investigate the in-vitro immune response to different varieties of manuka and kanuka honey.

What we did
We provided specific expertise in the isolation and analysis of complex molecules in the honey that are believed to play an important role in the biological properties of these honeys.

The research findings showed that different varieties of New Zealand honey trigger immune responses in the body. In addition, progress was made towards providing tools for understanding why manuka or kanuka honey stimulates the healing of wounds that are slow to heal.

The knowledge gained paved the way for the development of a new range of medicinal honey products, Comvita Medihoney™, which is specifically tailored for certain skin conditions and wound treatments.

Safe, humane fish anaesthetic

Safe, humane fish anaesthetic

Business opportunity
Development of a plant extract-based aquatic anaesthetic that meets strict international regulations.

What we did
AQUI-S NZ manufacturers and sells an aquatic anaesthetic that is used in the management of stress levels in fin fish, crustacea and molluscs. The anaesthetic is used during harvesting or transporting of fish, routine handling, and health treatments for fish, such as vaccinations. 

Fish should be calm when harvested, as stress impacts the quality of the flesh, its taste and its shelf life. The AQUI-S product is approved for use in food and is the only one of its kind with a zero withholding period, meaning that the fish are safe to eat, regardless of when they were treated.

Callaghan Innovation first contributed its expertise a decade ago when, to meet regulatory requirements in overseas markets, AQUI-S NZ was required to manufacture, rather than buy, the active ingredients in its product.

Callaghan Innovation helped AQUI-S NZ trial the process that was developed by the company, and then refined and scaled it up to make it commercially viable.

More recently, Callaghan Innovation assisted AQUI-S NZ with analysis and testing to help it comply with the rigorous international regulatory controls in the lucrative European Union markets.