Agri-lab Co Products's export success story took guts

Agri-lab Co Products's export success story took guts
Agri-lab Co Products wins Fly Buys Making it in Rural award

From vet nurse to founder and sole owner of a company with a $1.32 million annual turnover, winner of the Fly Buys Making it in Rural award Angela Payne runs a global exporting business called Agri-lab Co Products from her Waipakurau home office.

And what is her company producing that has such high international demand? Raw and freeze-dried animal placentas, glands and membranes, naturally.

The Fly Buys Making it in Rural award recognises manufacturing and creative businesses, and is run by members of Rural Women New Zealand. The Fly Buys for Business programme manager Trevor Jellie said Payne's business Agri-lab Co Products was a "testament to the ingenuity and drive that exists" within New Zealand's rural women. 

Agri-lab Co Products is an ingredients manufacturer that sources ‘waste’ animal products from farmers and freezing works. These ingredients are sold to pharmaceutical companies, where they are used in health supplements and skincare products. And demand is only set to rise as these products have found favour with celebrities, such as Victoria Beckham.

“I am in the fortunate position of not really having to sell anything, rather, just try and keep up with customers orders. The business really is market-driven,” says Payne.

Payne built the company from scratch with money she received from half a cowherd following her divorce, hoping to earn a living that could support her and her children. Today, Agri-lab Co Products employs seven people and is the leading supplier of animal placenta products in the world, exporting around 90 percent of their ingredients to international pharmaceutical companies, especially in Asia. 

Initially, some persuasion was required to convince people that the offal business was a serious business. Payne says she was, and perhaps still is, known as the “Placenta Queen” and that the locals thought she was “insane”. It has since become much easier and Payne finds that the freezing works are much more proactive these days.

The role of the internet, and fast broadband, is crucial to the continued success of Agri-lab Co Products. Building a relationship with the market in the first place was facilitated in part over email and through their company website, and all of their business is conducted online. This includes demonstrations of some of their products and processes through YouTube clips, which Payne says is “amazing”. 

Payne has cultivated an enviable work/life balance, fulfilling international demand for her company's product, while being at home for her family and enjoying her rural lifestyle.  

"Her customers are only an email away," says Jellie. 

“I think living life in the slow lane is good for me, and the fast lane in the city is not too far away. Close enough to visit, far enough away to highlight the best of a small town like Waipukurau; it has one of everything you need, life is good, staff are loyal, people are friendly, tall poppies thrive, what more could a business want?”