After migrating from Japan to Brazil, Mr. Norihito Matsuda discovered the health benefits of propolis while working in the poultry industry as a young electrical engineer. Propolis was used to clean minor cuts and scratches. It was also effective in alleviating sore trotas.
Impressed with the amazing results obtained from propolis, Mr. Matsuda decided to find out more about this unique mixture provided by bees. But he and his wife Harko found very little information about propolis when searching at the University of Sao Paulo. As a nuclear biochemist, Mrs. Matsuda found it exciting to join her husband in the study of the healing properties of propolis.
This interest began in 1982 and led the dynamic couple to found MN Propolis Industria, Comercio e Exportacao Ltda in Mogi das Cruzes – Sao Paulo in 1992. Today it is one of the most advanced companies in the research and development of products derived from propolis, pollen, honey and other highly functional foods and ingredients, the largest in Brazil.
Propolis is the result of resinous substances the bees collect from the buds, young shoots or bark of different trees such as birch, alder, eucaliptus and fir mixed with pollen, beewax and other secretions. The bees use propolis to construct protective walls at the hive entrance, to keep it free of unwelcome microorganisms.
A popular natural medicine used by different cultures since ancient times, current research has confirmed propolis has antimicrobial, anti-oxydant and anti-inflammatory properties. Propolis has shown interesting results in the dental industry as inhibitor of plaque and oral disease. Additional health attributes of propolis depend on the type of vegetation the bees source the resin and other components.
In 1996 the Hayashibara Institute in Japan found out that Brazilian propolis also shows important anticarcinogenic qualities. The raw material used by MN Propolis is this unique “green propolis” only found in the southeast region of Brazil, where the flora is abundant of eucaliptus and a rosemary like wild bush called alecrin or “Baccharis dracunculifolia” (Asteraceae).
“Artepillin C is the major compound in the Brazilian green propolis from Baccharis dracunculifolia”, said Mr. Matsuda during an interview with OWN at the 12,200 sqm grounds of MN Propolis. “Studies show this compound inhibits tumor cell growth, a fact that further motivated our commitment over the years to introduce more infrastructure and new technology for better products” he said.
A tour of the facilities at MN Propolis confirms Mr and Mrs Matsuda’s dedication to research and product development. The 4,130sqm constructed area within the impecable compound hosts an impressive laboratory, operating as a sister firm for MN Propolis, called CETAL (Technological Center for Food Analysis). “Many companies request us to conduct food laboratory tests that include detection of heavy metals and microbiological qualities,” said Jeferson Umezaki, responsable for the export department.
MN Propolis Brazilian Green Propolis Extract is widely used in Japan and other countries as dietary supplement and as ingredient in health products. Exports to Eastern and South East Asia account for 67% of the market for MN Propolis, 22% to South America, 5% to North America and 5% to Europe. Only 1% of the company sales are concentrated in Brazil, but the plan for 2014 is to expand domestic sales.
Besides manufacturing and exporting 25 to 30 tonnes of propolis per year, raw and extract in powder and paste, MN Propolis offers over 20 additional products, including pollen, honey, Agaricus mushroom, and supplements with combined ingredients such as tablets with propolis extract, Agaricus, shark cartilage and pollen.
At both the company’s online shop and an outlet at its premises, the company sells a wide variety of functional foods and supplements including organic mate with propolis, umeboshi (Ameixa Ume Salgada), baked goods, teas and even ice cream.
“We also offer Shochu, a distilled sake and ancient alcoholic beverage known as “Japanese Vodka,” said Mr. Umezaki. The fermented and distilled drink has an alcohol content of 15 to 45%. MN Propolis introduced the first 100% Brazilian Shochu and the first one made with organic cassava in the world.
Organic ethylic alcohol or ethanol available in 20l and 200l plastic drums is another product at MN Propolis for the cosmetics and food sectors. “We are investing to improve our processing systems, avoid waste and use better materials. For instance we prefer glass over plastic for the propolis retail line and the top of the droppers are made of silicone, not latex,” said Mr. Matsuda.
MN Propolis exhibits at the major International fairs for organic products such as BioFach in Nuremberg. It usually takes part in joint exhibitions under the Organics Brazil umbrella. Working with the bees gives the Matsuda family and their team great personal and professional satisfaction. The dedication of the people at this family owned Business which recognizes the importance of their work in contributing with better products and more support for the tiny insects that provide the raw material in their industry.