October 2008
Angela Payne's company Agri-lab Co-Products Ltd deals with bits and pieces from meat processing plants that no-one else was previously much interested in. Using unique technology to extract vital compounds from animal parts, such as tissues, organs and glands, she has created a business which is on track to record a million dollar turnover.

Agri-lab supplies specialized tissues, placenta, organs and glands dissected and prepared to order for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies.

These tissues and glands, of animal origin, are used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, anti-aging and regenerative therapies, in both main stream and alternative therapy markets.

Agri-lab has been servicing this market since 1998. Worldwide interest in these products is on the increase and the demand for correctly prepared raw materials is growing rapidly. The company supplies the raw ingredients to specification, and investigates new tissues and glands that could also be useful.

Demand for products has increased at such a rate that in 2004 they opened a specialized processing facility to streamline current production and allow the development of new products and improvements on competitors products.

Products for human consumption are processed at licensed export meat works or collected and further processed under strict NZFSA (MAF) protocol.

Agri-lab also operates a MAF-licensed horse placenta collection, believed to be the first in the world. The company has contract staff based in Waikato, Christchurch, and Ashburton, who collects placenta material for further processing before being exported.

Agri-lab's processing pack house, which meets MAF and overseas market access requirements, has been built alongside Payne's home, on the main road through Waipukurau in Central Hawke's Bay, so she can more easily meet family and childcare responsibilities. The site was chosen because the main road enables easy product delivery and dispatch, property values at the time of purchase made it affordable, and it is close to contractors and staff.

The product range includes

Glands (adrenal, thyroid, prostate, ovary, pancreas, etc.)

Brain glands and brain circuits (hypothalamus, pineal gland, basal ganglia, cortex and many more)

Glandular extracts

Enzyme sites

Hormone sites

Stem cells

Tissue matrix and repair sites

Bioactive tissues



Connective tissues

Blood and blood products


Related tissues

New Zealand Advantages

New Zealand is one of only a few countries in the world that is accredited free of BSE (Mad Cow Disease) and so is uniquely positioned as a safe source of all animal tissues or extracts of animal origin.

Another selling point is that the products are sourced from animals that are healthy, and at time of slaughter are chemical hormone and antibiotic free, and are suitable for use in the natural therapies industries as well as for conventional pharmaceuticals use.

Animals treated with growth promotants (hormones) are excluded from our suppliers.


Demand for new products is coming mostly from overseas pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies. The products are being used in the manufacture of mainstream and alternative medicines, dietary supplements, anti-ageing and regenerative therapies, although she is also encapsulating products under the 'Harmony Wood' label.

We get the contracts that often fall into other peoples too hard basket, in terms of working out how to do the dissections and how to get the products out . A lot of our profitability is from synergies weve created so that we have buyers for most parts of the offals we use there is no waste.

Placenta market

We are now the most significant player in the placenta market in the world, known for supplying placentas from all species cows, cattle, pigs, deer and goats.

Placentas are our highest volume product and are used by clients for medical and cosmetic products. We also specialise in brains, extracting various specific parts that are used, for example, in treatments for Parkinsons disease. We also process a lot of brain tissue which is used to extract ceramides for use in cosmetics.

Agri-labs extracts also go into the natural product markets. Deer embryos, for example, are used for traditional Chinese medicine.


Agri-lab received an investment boost when government R&D funding agency Technology New Zealand provided funding towards the cost of verifying valuable components Payne believed were in various animal by-products. Some of the money was also used to develop processes to extract the components on a commercial scale.

It meant Agri-lab could push forward with new opportunities and commercialise something that could otherwise have been on hold for two or three years.

The application process also helped Agri-lab to devise a research timeline and think about the effects of disappointments and successes that might result.

Can-do attitude

"I'm a single mother with a 'can do' attitude and I was sure I could make it work. If I'd had to answer to a board of directors, the business would have been shot on the water before it ever got started,"says Angela.

"I like to be hands on so I know what's going on in the business and I can constantly monitor the health of the business."

"I've needed to have that perseverance, that 'can do' attitude but I've also needed to be focused. My advice to others is to preserve yourself, your health and sanity at all cost. You need incredible patience and dedication. Without patience, there'll be barriers and it would be so easy to give up. There are so many emerging businesses that give up when it's the hardest but just when they are nearest to making a breakthrough."

"When you get there, you forget how hard it was and keep going. When it gets harder, you have low days - but don't give up on a low day. Get a good night's sleep and reconsider."

Payne also suggests limiting the amount of advice you take on. Too much from too many people telling what shouldn't and can't be done is unhelpful.


With a strong background in veterinary nursing and farming, Angela developed the advanced dissection processes and then trained her laboratory staff in the highly specialised techniques.

She tends to try and manage the relationships with the meatworks herself. She says one wrong step with a meat inspector might mean the whole business relationship with that works goes pffut.

Annual export sales of about $1 million are generated largely from repeat business and referrals from clients.