Which kava products are available for sale and consumption in Australia?
A: Products available for sale in Australia will be capsules, tablets and tea bags. These products are approved in Australia as an AUST L product, a complementary medicine. Our products are FDA compliant, and the company has a licence, granted by the Australian Government’s Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to import kava as a complementary medicine. The company also has HACCP/Good Manufacturing Practice certification.
Where can I purchase Fiji Kava’s products?
A: Our Fijian brand, Taki Mai, is available for purchase online on Taki Mai by Fiji Kava Website and is available in store Fiji-wide via our distribution partners; Jacks of Fiji and Tappoo.
We plan to launch Fiji Kava in Australia in the first quarter of 2019 and are currently focused on production to ensure there is sufficient supply ahead of releasing our range of products.
How does Taki Mai fit into the Fiji Kava story?
A: We have a range of TGA and FDA approved medical kava products already in-market and generating sales under the “Taki Mai” brand as disclosed in our prospectus.
Fiji has proven to be the perfect testbed for our products whilst we have focused on research and development, establishing our network of Fijian kava growers, implementing best in class processes across our farm-to-shelf supply chain and preparing for our launch in Australia, and further down the line, internationally.
What are the side effects of taking kava regularly?
A: There is little documented evidence of adverse health effects associated with traditional moderate levels of consumption of kava beverage, with only anecdotal reports of general symptoms of lethargy and headaches (FAO and WHO – Kava Technical Report 2016).
The kavalactones in kava cause a relaxing, sedative effect on both the body and mind, accompanied by a slight numbing of the mouth and tongue while consuming kava (if consumed as a drink).
What is Noble kava?
A: There are two types of kava – Noble and Tudei and both contain different characteristics and are found on different islands of the South Pacific. In Fiji, only Noble varieties are grown, and these are distinguishable from Tudei – which is known for their long lasting ‘hangover’ type affects. Noble varieties are considered safe, compared to Tudei, because Tudei varieties have high levels of Flavokawain B (FKB), a known percusor of liver toxicity.
Can you get liver toxicity from taking kava?
A: We only use Noble kava varieties, which have not been found to cause any issues with liver toxicity. The reports linking kava with liver toxicity originate from [research] conducted on Tudei kava varieties.
There are 126 varieties of Tudei kava. German scientist and globally renowned kava researcher, Dr Mathias Schmidt, has noted that FKB is in higher concentrations in a lot of the Tudei cultivars grown in Vanuatu. FKB is a hepatotoxin (damaging to liver cells). Dr Schmidt no longer advocates Europeans buy kava from Vanuatu.
How long are Fiji Kava’s Piper Methysticum crops grown before being harvested? Don’t crops need 5 years to mature?
A: We grow our crops for 2 years before harvesting when crops are at peak kavalactone yield. An additional 3 years of growing is not required and does not impact our extraction or manufacturing output in quality or quantum.
Field experiments conducted to identify factors determining kavalactone content and chemotype in Piper Methysticum has shown that after two years of vegetative growth, the chemotype appears stable and kavalactone content does not increase but rather fluctuates (±2%) (Siméoni, Patricia & Lebot, Vincent; 2002).
Isn’t kava banned in Europe?
A: There was a 17year ban imposed in Germany for kava products. The ban was lifted in 2015 when two German administrative courts decided that the decision of the regulatory authority to ban kava was inappropriate and even associated with an increased risk due to the higher risk inherent to the therapeutic alternatives (Kuchta, Schmidt, and Nahrsedt; 2015).
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, established with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and World Health Organisation (WHO) are developing a Kava regional standard to regulate the Pacific Kava market and bring higher quality, safe and disease free kava back to the international market.
What regulations are in place around kava quality?
A: The Fiji Kava Bill (2016), once enacted, will establish the Fiji Kava council to regulate the cultivation, processing, transportation and marketing of kava. The Bill also seeks to ban the export of non-Noble varieties of kava.
The Vanuatu Kava Act (2002) bans the export of Tudei and other non-Noble varieties of kava and associated products from Vanuatu (Tudei kava makes up about 60% of Vanuatu kava production).
Codex Alimentarius Commission, established by the FAO and WHO, has set a kava standard to standardise operating procedures for the growth, harvest, and processing of kava. The standard is also expected to ban the export of non-Noble kava varieties.
Are kava crops destroyed by die back?
A: Fiji Kava has been working with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) since 2014 on an ‘elite kava project’ that has been co-funded by the Australian Government. The project is developing a rapid propagation system for clean planting material.
Kava dieback is a problem in many countries in the Pacific and has been known to wipe out production. A causal relationship between kava dieback and cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) infection has been demonstrated and testing for CMV provides a means by which ‘clean’ plants can be selected. Virus testing and tissue culture provide an opportunity to develop an effective propagation system for generating ‘clean’ planting material of kava.
This work complements an investment by the Australian Government-funded Pacific Horticulture and Agriculture Market Access (PHAMA) program in defining kava varieties and establishing quality standards.
Where are the crops for Fiji Kava’s products grown and prepared?
A: Fiji Kava owns a 120-acre tissue culture farm in Levuka on the island of Ovalau in Fiji to supply the highest quality kava via tissue culture/mass propagation.
We also source kava from a network of c.200 registered and carefully vetted Fijian farmers. All of the cultivars (varieties) of kava grown in Fiji are of the Noble variety.
Fiji Kava has identified a number of additional locations suitable to grow its own kava via tissue cultures, including North Queensland and Papua New Guinea. This is to allow geographic spread with Fiji Kava farms to reduce risk from adverse weather events.
The Company does not use any kava other than Fijian grown Noble kava in its products.
Do you have sufficient land/ crops to meet demand for Fiji Kava’s products in Australia?
A: To meet the projected demand for our products, specific varieties of kava are used. To ensure that farmers are planting enough of these varieties, Fiji Kava established a supply system to create consistent volume and standardised quality. This includes a mixed system of a company-run nucleus farm, an out growers scheme, and nurseries to reproduce and supply farmers with the selected varieties for planting. The out growers scheme will assist farmers with planting the right kava cultivars whilst helping them improve their farming practices which in turn will increase yields, turnover and income.
The company also has full traceability and transparency with its supply chain and are able to trace kava products produced to registered kava farms around Fiji.
What extraction method does Fiji Kava use to extract the kavalactones from Piper Methysticum?
A: We process freshly harvested kava (green kava) at the Company’s Levuka factory using a water-based extraction method. This method was developed with research partner the University of the South Pacific and delivers a pure, high quality water extract, without the addition of chemicals or other contaminants.
Additional resources for reference:
German Kava Ban Lifted by Court: The Alleged Hepatotoxicity of Kava (Piper methysticum) as a Case of Ill-Defined Herbal Drug Identity, Lacking Quality Control, and Misguided Regulatory Politics – Kuchta, Schmidt, and Nahrsedt; 2015
Identification of factors determining kavalactone content and chemotype in kava (Piper methysticum Forst. f.) – Siméoni Patricia, Lebot Vincent. 2002. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 30 (5) : pp. 413-424.