New Zealand Natural Health Innovator Turns 102

Queens Service Medal winner, philanthropist and founder of global natural health and beauty products company, Comvita, Claude Stratford will celebrate his 102nd birthday this Saturday, 18 August.



Mr Stratford turns 102 a month after the company he founded reached $102million¹ in annualised sales.

At the age of 64, Mr Stratford founded Comvita in 1974, by making and selling a unique range of health products from the basement in his home in Paengaroa in the Bay of Plenty. From these humble beginnings Comvita has grown into a New Zealand export success story, with products available in over 18 markets around the world.

Mr Stratford acquired his first beehive in 1921 at age 11, establishing a life-long association with apiaries. His conviction in the health-giving properties of bee products was later borne out by numerous innovations in natural health science, including UMF-rated Manuka honey’s anti-bacterial action and its applications to wound care.        

Mr Stratford’s achievements in addition to his successes with Comvita are many and he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 1999 for his service to the community.

In 2005, at the age of 95, he was a finalist in the national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. And in 2010, to celebrate his 100th birthday, a scholarship in his name was established in association with the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology at The University of Auckland. The scholarship is for a PhD student studying a topic related to natural health products.

Comvita CEO Brett Hewlett said Mr Stratford’s pioneering spirit, his humanitarian values and his commitment to product quality and purity are still the cornerstone of Comvita today.

“Claude has spent his life bringing the health benefits offered by nature to people in New Zealand and around the world. He continues to be an inspiration to Comvita staff, all over the world.”

At the 26 July 2012 AGM, Comvita announced annualised sales had surpassed $100 million for the first time in the company’s history, reflecting the growing stature of the brand in international markets.