Kiwi business Healthy Breath recently had its MEO face masks displayed on the global stage during the opening of Taste New Zealand Week in the Middle Eastern city of Bahrain.
The event, organised by NZTE, displayed over 25 of New Zealand’s top food brands at Al-Jazira supermarket, one of the largest supermarket brands in Bahrain. Hosted at Al-Jazira’s Zinj branch, the event showcased the extensive range of New Zealand products available within the store, focusing on the variety of fresh products flown in weekly to Bahrain and distributed to all stores.
On 15 October, all VIP guests and Al-Jazira staff who attended the opening event wore special limited edition MEO face masks, including Abdul Hussein Kahlil Dawani, the chairman of Al-Jazira supermarket chain and other senior management. The limited-edition mask features the iconic New Zealand silver fern and is worn by NZTE workers in overseas countries worldwide.
Healthy Breath operates an end-to-end management process out of the New Zealand headquarters, from manufacturing to distribution. Its flagship MEO Lite and MEO Kids face masks feature a New Zealand wool filter made from sheep specially bred in Wanaka.
In the past eight months, MEO has experienced a 500 percent increase in face mask sales due to the demand brought on by COVID-19. To keep pace with the growing local demand, Healthy Breath employed an additional 20 workers at its Auckland plant in the first quarter and has streamlined operations to fast track the delivery of masks.
Healthy Breath co-founder Kenneth Leong says that from an exporting perspective, the economic benefits have been significant as MEO’s mask production scaled up to unprecedented levels. “The first spike in demand occurred between January and February this year, when sales in China, Hong Kong and Japan skyrocketed overnight. At one point, the global demand for face masks outstripped the available supply by more than ten times.
“As one of the few mask providers already established in New Zealand before the pandemic, this provided MEO a real opportunity to capitalise on the export market by scaling up our production to cater to the growing demand. We have significant volumes of stock available in our warehouses, totalling tens of thousands of masks.”
David (Wei) Gao and Kenneth Leong co-founded Healthy Breath in 2017 as the first-to-market face mask provider in New Zealand, originally launching as a product to combat air pollution in high density cities around the world. Gao, president of Healthy Breath, is the CEO of Alpha Group, a biotech health supplement manufacturer headquartered in New Zealand. Since its inception in 1998, Alpha Group has seen expansion success globally in China, South East Asia and other global markets.
Leong arrived in New Zealand as an international student in the mid-1990s, subsequently deciding to make New Zealand home, applying his learnings and broader cultural experience to business interests here.
‘Made with Care’
‘Made with Care’, is being led by NZTE and is part of a wider ‘Messages from New Zealand’ country brand campaign, which sees Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), NZTE, Ministry for Primary Industries, Education New Zealand and New Zealand Story join forces to promote New Zealand’s brand on the world stage.