Weleda, the world-leading manufacturer of certified organic and natural skincare and medicines is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The company has been operating globally for 100 years, since 1921, and in New Zealand since 1955.
From the very beginning, Weleda has been developing sustainable products using active ingredients sourced from nature. The connection between people and nature can be seen and felt in both Weleda’s health and beauty products, and also in how they do business.
Today, Weleda grows medicinal plants according to the principles of biodynamic farming across its eight Weleda gardens around the world, including one in Havelock North, New Zealand. Over 120 plants are used, freshly picked and made into tinctures for Weleda products. Some of the products sold today date back to their global founding in 1921, and many more have been added since.
Weleda was founded in 1921 by the Austrian philosopher and natural scientist Rudolf Steiner, the Dutch physician Ita Wegman, and the German chemist and pharmacist Oskar Schmiedel, who were united in striving for a better future. The company’s ethos has always centred around the connection between nature, the human body, mind and spirit.
In 1921, Steiner and Wegman began commercially producing pharmaceutical and skincare products with natural ingredients in Germany. The following year, they established the first Weleda medicinal herb garden in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany.
Cultivation of medicinal plants has been one of the ways Weleda stays provided with fresh and dried plants which are the basic ingredients of its pharmaceuticals and skincare products.
“Since our creation in 1921, Weleda has offered a different perspective on the relationship between people and nature,” says Weleda NZ brand manager, Sylvie Morton.
“Our founders believed in working with nature and not against it, this message has resonated with many consumers over the decades who discovered in Weleda a brand they could trust to not only be effective but also safe for them, their family and the planet.”
Following its establishment in New Zealand in 1955, Weleda has been able to maintain the ideals and values held by its early pioneers. The brand has since grown and developed to become a vertically integrated modern garden, natural medicines manufacturing, distribution and sales and marketing operation.
“Our values and principles have not changed since 1921 but our product ranges have grown to offer not just medicine but a full range of skincare,” says Morton.
“The brand communication has also evolved from relying on word of mouth to using all communication channels in order to reach all consumers.”
Weleda’s New Zealand biodynamic gardens, medicine manufacturing, warehouse, commercial head office and the onsite Weleda pharmacy are all located in Havelock North, Hawkes Bay. The Weleda Pharmacy is a holistic health hub staffed with pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, medical herbalists and naturopaths.
Weleda New Zealand also manufactures a wide range of anthroposophic and homoeopathic medicines, compliant with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Pharmaceutical standards. Key categories include Mother & Baby, Pain & Sport, Cough & Cold, Allergies, Stress & Sleep, First Aid, Digestion & Detox. Weleda New Zealand’s top-performing natural medicines are the Baby Teething Powder and Arnica Cream.
Morton says, to many Kiwis, Weleda is a local brand that they love and trust.
“People love that we have not wavered from what we were founded on and that we have remained a natural and clean brand.
“We have a really loyal customer base, and many have come through the Mother & Baby range and stayed. A lot of female customers under the age of 30 know the brand because their mothers used to buy it, and they, in turn, have stayed loyal buying their favourite products and then exploring more of our product range.”
Weleda’s Biodynamic Gardens
Weleda New Zealand’s biodynamic gardens were established in the Hawkes Bay in the 1990s. To ensure maximum vitality and potency, Weleda New Zealand grows its own herbs to the highest biodynamic standards, or sources the finest ingredients from elsewhere in New Zealand or from sustainably cultivated, ethical partnerships worldwide.
“Besides the mild Mediterranean climate, having Taruna, Hohepa, Taikura and a large group of like-minded Anthroposophical thinkers in this area, makes this a great site for the Weleda garden,” says Weleda’s head gardeners, Warren Pearce and Chris Slaney.
The gardeners work the fields according to the principles of biodynamic farming and cultivation, which ensures that no pesticides or other toxic substances come into contact with ingredients. Harvesting is mostly done by hand, avoiding the use of heavy farm equipment, which keeps the soil light and airy.
“Looking after our crops takes up the most part of our work, from planning the rotation of beds, crop propagation, watering, hoeing, harvesting to cropping schedules. We also make biodynamic preparations and manage our own compost.
“Animal husbandry keeps us busy too as we use goats for weed control and have 5 cows (unpolled Hyland Jersey and Highland Jersey Hereford cross) for paddock management.”
Because they work seasonally, the gardeners say watering, hoeing and weeding during summer months can sometimes be a challenge.
“We also have to ensure that biodynamic guidelines are followed and cropping targets are met but nature sometimes has different ideas.”
Sustainable and Ecological Responsibility
The quality and effectiveness of Weleda medicines are not only the result of its natural raw ingredients and special formulations but also its production methods, some of which are unique processes used exclusively by Weleda.
Weleda’s responsibility to its patients and consumers starts with the raw materials and it takes this responsibility even further by paying attention to the biodegradability of its products and how residual materials can be disposed of properly. 98 percent of all waste produced during the manufacturing process is reused. The brand also uses 100 percent green electricity and approximately 50 percent renewable energy at our production sites across the globe.
Morton says being sustainable is in the brand’s DNA.
“By putting back more than we take we ensure that there is enough for generations to come to enjoy the same benefits from nature as our founders did.
“Nature is self-sustaining and self-balancing which is why all our products only include natural ingredients, and we can harness this power to support health and beauty.”
Weleda products are made from 100% natural ingredients:
NO genetically modified organisms
NO synthetic preservatives, fragrances or colours
NO raw materials derived from mineral oils and are NOT tested on animals