Waipukurau woman launches placenta business to meet global demand

People around the world are going that extra mile for silky, smooth skin, paying top dollar for placenta products in a $2 billion global market.

One beauty secret even the gurus won't know is that New Zealand's had the local market cornered for two decades. The Project spoke to Agri-Labs Co-Products' owner and Waipukurau's very own 'Placenta Queen', Angela Payne, about her success in a niche market.

Most adults should know that a placenta's primary function is connecting a developing fetus to the mothership - but what is done with the humble placenta post-birth really depends on the individual. Birth rituals, a not-so-tasty snack or earning some big bucks are all within the realm of possibility. 

Placenta pills are big business for new mums craving that much-needed nutrition, like mammals in the wild. Although not everyone is as comfortable with that concept in the western world, a handful of celebrities have polished off their placentas - such as Hillary Duff, the Kardashians, January Jones and Reece Witherspoon.

Payne swears by the powers of placenta. Her Agri-Labs Co-Products business supplies, processes and exports raw ingredients derived from animal co-products for the cosmetic, dietary supplement, anti-aging and pharmaceutical industries.

"The sales are growing from year to year... New Zealanders a bit slow in hearing about it, but the Asian market has known about it for a long time. It's really popular in the United States and Canada as well," she told The Project.

The success of the business eventually led locals in the Hawkes Bay town of Waipukurau to crown Payne as the reigning 'Queen of Placentas'.

"Some people say I'm crazy, some say the things I do are amazing. I think there's a fine line between crazy and amazing... I used to be 'the Poo Lady' so I think I've had a significant upgrade," she laughed.

Yes, from 'Poo Lady' to 'Placenta Queen'. There is hope for us all.

And like the title would suggest, Payne's pre-placenta career involved internal parasite monitoring and fecal egg counts.

"But that business is long gone," she said.

"For the last 20 years I've been in the co-products business, hence I got the name the 'Placenta Queen' because I collect placentas from all species, like from sheep, cattle, pigs, deer and horses."

She believes New Zealand's eco-friendly reputation has contributed to the hype surrounding its export of animal products.

"New Zealand products generally have such a great reputation because of our clean, green image. Our overseas customers are wanting our products that are GMO-free, that have been naturally raised."

If anyone wants to get involved in the placenta business, Payne says the demand for dietary supplements is definitely here to stay.

"The biggest market is dietary supplements. All my markets were driven by consumer demand. I haven't decided to make something and find a market for it," she said. 

"I've been approached by customers who are wanting to have products made for them and I've worked out how to make them."