How a homemade bone broth became booming business

Jessica Satherley
How a homemade bone broth became booming business

The bone broth industry has gained popularity throughout the Western world in recent years due to its low-carb, high-protein and nutrient-rich properties.

As Paleo and Keto diets have taken over the weight-loss market, bone broth is being used as both a health and beauty supplement as well as a nutritious meal aiding digestive health and fat loss.

Hawkes Bay-born entrepreneur and Westpac customer Alex Watson has not only experienced the health benefits of his homemade bone broth but also its growing market value. His product has turned into a booming business in New Zealand and is about to join the international industry.

Within just one year Watson went from selling his homemade bone broth in jars at a farmers’ markets in Christchurch, to being distributed nationwide around New Zealand supermarkets.

“That first Saturday at the Riccarton Bush Farmers Market I sold out all 45 jars. The following Saturday I went back with 72 jars and they sold out too. I started being contacted on social media by people wanting deliveries and soon after I outgrew my home kitchen and needed a commercial one”, the 38-year-old said.

The Little Bone Broth Company was soon introduced to Foodstuffs, New Zealand’s biggest grocery distributor, and today 90% of Foodstuff’s South Island supermarkets stock the product, while the North Island will be receiving it by April.

By March 2019, the business was selling between 500 to 1,000 jars per week, with a target of 5000 jars countrywide per week once they hit the North Island stores. Watson’s goal of 5,000 jars per week nationwide would create $1.4 million in turnover for the company, which he has financed with the help of private investors.

Alex Watson

Alex Watson (right)

The former hospitality recruitment consultant is supplied free range animal carcasses from a local butcher, which are then simmered in large pots filled with water, herbs, spices and apple cider vinegar over three days to draw out the nutrients and create the preservative-free broth.

Watson has recently been approached to export the bone broth in powder form to China and the USA. The powder can be turned into health and beauty supplements or as a ‘just add liquid’ shelf stabilised broth.

“Beef broth is more popular overseas than chicken because of its high collagen content as a health/beauty product but the chicken broth is more popular with New Zealand consumers”, says Watson.

The high collagen content in beef bone broth benefits skin, hair, joints and teeth. While chicken bone broth is great for the immune system, gut health and digestion. 

The Canterbury Crusaders’ nutritionist also reached out to The Little Bone Broth Company last year so that the players could drink it for its health benefits, in a bid for them to move away from their current supplements.

Dawn Cook, who is in her mid-fifties and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis six years ago, found that eating bone broth was crucial to helping her painful knee joints.

“I read about the benefits of bone broth online and decided to try it. My mobility got better and joint pain lessened and I was also sleeping better”, the Christchurch-born woman said.

“I am still on medication but after finding the broth, it is now my daily health ritual”, she added.

Broth

Bone broth has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2000 years, to aid digestive health and flu symptoms. It is a rich source of collagen, glucosamine, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium from the animal bones.

The global broth market was worth over NZD 2.9 billion in 2016 and will see a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over 4% up to 2024, according to a recent Global Market Insights report.

Despite the booming market, there are only a few companies in New Zealand making the preservative-free product.

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