15 Oct 2018

With ASX listing, Fiji Kava sees medicinal future for drink

10:26 am on 15 October 2018

The first kava company to list on a global stock exchange says it will use the new capital to explore other medicinal uses for the drink.

A kava bowl

A kava bowl Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Fiji Kava on Friday lodged its prospectus for listing on the Australian Stock Exchange, which is scheduled to happen later this month.

The high-end kava producer says it intends to raise $AU5.2 million from investors at 20 cents per share.

Some of the money will go towards research for treating anxiety, insomnia and pain with kava, said its chairperson, Andrew Kelly.

"That will be clinical trials with humans and that will be done with varying extracts of kava, trying to refine the effect and the quality of what we are able to deliver to Western markets."

Fiji Kava currently operates in Fiji under the Taki Mai brand but has been trying to expand to Western markets over the past year, Mr Kelly said.

The new capital will be used to fund moves to the Australian and New Zealand markets, double the size of its production plant in Fiji and triple its overall output.

The company produces around 2 tonnes of kava, primarily in capsules and powder form, but expects to be producing 5 to 7 tonnes once it reaches the Australian market, Mr Kelly said.

A move to New Zealand will follow shortly after that, said Mr Kelly, although there are no plans to list on the country's stock exchange.

The research and development will also be put towards higher kava quality standards, pitching the company as the "cream of the crop" of kava, Mr Kelly said.

"We will get farmers that are committed, knowing what they are doing, understanding the quality requirements and getting rewarded for it."

And Fiji Kava will use its presence in Western markets to push less traditional kava applications, like "shots" similar to the high dosage energy drink variants.

"It's a good way to take a measured dose of something," said Mr Kelly.

"Ours is probably going to look similar in [the energy drink] market but it will actually be marketed as the opposite - it will be take this shot if you want to calm down or slow down or chill out."

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