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Botry-Zen expands base

Tuesday 29th April 2003

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Botry-Zen Limited, the Dunedin-based biotechnology company has announced plans to significantly expand its manufacturing base.

Chief executive John Scandrett says that consulting engineers had been engaged to work through the options associated with the expansion of the existing Dunedin factory, or possibly, as an alternative, the development of a green fields site in the Otago region.

Scandrett says that in either case the proposed purchase of new Japanese-developed equipment would lift the production capability at least ten-fold on current levels.

In an equally important associated move, steps are being taken to implement access to other new off-shore technology (of European origin) designed to enhance product shelf-life.

Formal documentation has been signed by the parties involved in the provision of the new equipment and product enhancement technologies, and preliminary factory trials with test components of the specially adapted production line equipment have produced positive results to date.

Should the existing Dunedin factory site be suitable for the planned upgrade the company will be targeting November this year for the installation and commissioning of the new production equipment -which the company recently saw operating, in a modified form, in a large-scale Californian mushroom growing plant.

Scandrett said that while the installation, together with associated and necessary plant modification work, "may negatively impact to some extent on the company's new season output capability", the projected intermediate and longer term benefits were considerable.

Should the greenfields option be chosen the benefit flow would not, in all likelihood be achieved until well into next year.

In further expansionary steps, the company has initiated field trialling and the formal Product Registration process in the European Union and in the USA. Under a "limited license" arrangement BOTRY-Zen will be marketed in Italy in a restricted commercial release this (northern hemisphere) season.

From March next year the company has plans, subject to the timing of the factory expansion, to implement a comprehensive Italian market development programme. This will address Botrytis bunch rot problems in grape growing regions as well as in areas where significant strawberry and tomato crops are, on an annual basis, badly damaged by Botrytis infection.

The terms and conditions of a formal partnering arrangement with a Rome-based fungicide marketing company are in the final stages of negotiation and across Italy industry interest in biological solutions to the Botrytis problem is at a high level.

Scandrett added "we remain confident in regard to the difference we believe this company can make towards resolving Botrytis infection issues and international interest in the product is considerable, but we also recognise the nature of the task ahead where many growers must still be educated to the benefits biological products can offer over more traditional chemical solutions".

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