Deer milk produced in New Zealand is being used in the lucrative Asian beauty industry for the first time - thanks to a deer farm worker who noticed her hands were getting softer.
The deer milk from Pāmu - formerly known as Landcorp - is the key active ingredient in a range of cosmetics marketed by Yuhan Corporation, South Korea's top pharmaceutical company.
The skin care products are being marketed under the recently unveiled 'Deerest' brand, and the line-up of products is available through Yuhan's 'New Origin' brand stores and online.
Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden said the idea of deer milk finding a home in the cosmetic space came about thanks to anecdotal evidence from a technologist working on the deer farm.
"The technologist, who works outside in the elements all year had very rough, dry and calloused hands,' he said.
"After cleaning the filters at the end of deer milking each day, she noticed how soothing the deer milk felt on her hands. After just two weeks of milking, she said her hands became noticeably softer and her nails were stronger as well, and the idea for the product was born."
Pāmu signed the groundbreaking partnership with Yuhan to supply Pāmu Deer Milk for its range of cosmetic products in December 2018.
"Pāmu has been working closely with Yuhan this last year as it developed a range of deer milk cosmetic products developed for its first move into the Korean beauty market."
Carden said the Korean beauty market was worth around US$13 billion annually, and having a unique product - such as deer milk - in such a lucrative market was truly exciting.
"While early days, the investment in time and innovation that we have put into developing deer milk as a food and cosmetics ingredient is showing a positive future."
He said the partnership with Yuhan was critical in terms of securing future opportunities for deer milk.
"It is incredibly important that we partner with strategic companies like Yuhan, who are committed to research and development and the commercialisation of products containing unique ingredients such as deer milk."
Pāmu deer milk has won multiple accolades, including an innovation award at last year's Fieldays and a New Zealand Food Award, and was selected to feature on the menu at the prestigious Asia Top 50 Restaurant awards in Macau this year.
It is produced in conjunction with South Island deer farmers Sharon and Peter McIntyre, who farm near Gore, and Massey University's food programme.