Demand for tea tree oil has increased around the world as the public thirst for sanitised surfaces spreads as fast as Covid-19. One product getting unusual air time is a gel that decontaminates ducted ventilation systems.
The product, known as Gelair, began production at Chinderah on the Tweed before the company was moved to Western Australia. Supplies of ISO standard tea tree oil - Gelair's only active ingredient - are still sourced from the Northern Rivers and North Queensland and research carried out by the industry association ATTIA has helped to propel the product onto the world stage.
In spite of a dry year in 2019 domestic grown crop is still meeting increased demand, although some growers have started now, a month early, to take advantage of price and opportunity.
Gelair business development manager Byron Williamson said the maritime industry had long been keen purchasers of the product, but cruise ships had yet to give it a try.
The Anti-microbial anti-fungal treatment has found a ready market in the maritime industry, where water and warmth - particularly in the tropics - has always posed a challenge when it comes to ensuring air conditioning hygiene.
Sales of Gelair products have gone to offshore energy platforms, commercial ships and defense vessels including submarines.
In fact word of mouth has helped to sell Gelair to private cruise liners from the Mediterranean and the Carribean to the South Pacific.
"Getting feedback from superyacht crews and captains has been especially satisfying," said Mr Williamson.
"We believe strongly in the product. We have a close relationship with our suppliers," said Mr Williamson. "This is an exciting time for the industry."