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Jamaican scientists develop natural cosmetic products

By Simon Pitman , 04-Jul-2006

The Jamaican government's plan to rapidly expand into the nutraceutical and cosmeceutical industry has culminated in a three year program carried out by the Jamaican Scientific Research Council (SRC) to develop a host of natural-based cosmetic products.

The SRC says that a $19m investment to kickstart the development of this sector, partly funded by the Organization of American States, has led to the development of a broad spectrum of products based on ingredients that are sourced from local producers.

The SRC's researchers have developed shampoo based on sorrel seed, conditioners using rosemary, an anti-wrinkle cream also based on rosemary and a body lotion made from tumeric.

The project is aiming to tap into the growing market for natural-based cosmetic products that is currently a major growth market in the leading markets of the US, Europe and Asia.

According to the Jamaican Sunday Observer Reporter, the product development itself has been completed. All that remains is to secure funding for efficacy and safety tests before the SRC can start approaching cosmetic manufacturers.

"We have lots of potential here and we could generate a lot of money in the country," Sheridan Hibbert, SRC research scientist, told the newspaper.

"These are, after all, value-added products instead of the traditional dry herbs," he added.

The SRC is now planning to engage local cosmetics producers for the commercialization of the products, with the ultimate aim of supplying both the domestic and global markets.

Jamaica is known as a worldwide supplier of a variety of herbs and spices as well as agricultural products, many of which can be incorporated into the growing trend for natural-based personal care products.

The Jamaican government is also behind the move towards pushing the country's existing herbs and spice industry and its agricultural industry to increase involvement with both the nutraceutical and cosmetics sectors.

Last month the country's trade and industry minister Phillip Paulwell highlighted research being carried out at the Natural Products Institute in nutraceuticals, essential oils, and pesticides from herbal extracts.

"The Scientific Research Council's Tissue Culture Unit continues to engage in activities aimed at increasing the competitive position of the Jamaica agro industrial sector, through the production of high quality disease free planting materials and the development and selection of improved cultivar," Paulwell said.

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