AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program RFQ: Evaluating the antiviral efficacy of 100% pure tea tree oil

This Request for Quotation (RFQ) is seeking the services of an individual or organisation with suitable skills, experience and capacity to conduct studies to define the virucidal activity tea tree oil.

The aim is to publish a seminal peer reviewed journal paper that will be widely referenced and be used to stimulate further research and a non-technical report to be used to inform industry stakeholders. The communication of the results of the study will encourage the uptake of tea tree oil as an anti-viral agent by manufacturers with specificity for COVID-19 and other viruses. The published paper will provide definitive information to analysts, product developers, manufacturers, formulators and others in the tea tree oil personal care, home care, industrial and pharmaceutical markets to enable the development of new products to control virus transmission.

The outcomes of this project will provide the AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil Program evidence on the antiviral efficacy of tea tree oil to sustainably increase global demand for Australian tea tree oil.

This RFQ closes on 25 May, 2021. 


Australian tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia by steam distillation. Australia produces around 1,000 tonnes of 100% pure Australian tea tree oil per year, and this is increasing. Tea Tree Oil has recognised antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and is widely formulated into many cosmetic and personal care products. The AgriFutures Tea Tree Oil program has funded a number of projects to define the anti-microbial effectiveness of tea tree oil and there are many referenced papers available.

Tea Tree Oil has not been fully evaluated for antiviral efficacy using viruses recommended by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) or European Standards (EN). The recommendations include the use of a number of standard viruses in tests for efficacy of disinfectants on surfaces (commonly referred to as “carrier tests”) or in suspensions.

This Request for Quote will address the “increasing demand” objective within the three research and development (R&D) objectives for the industry, and outlined in the Tea Tree Oil Program RD&E Plan 2018-2022.

Project Requirements

The organisation will undertake method development and thorough analytical analysis of at least five standard viruses including a number of suggested phases:

  • Develop a method to assess tea tree oil antiviral activity recognising the cytotoxicity of tea tree oil to host cells.
  • Complete standard in vitro assays for a number of (at least five) standard viruses to give time/concentration kill rates.
  • One of the viruses assessed must be a COVID-19 surrogate coronavirus that is considered suitable (or the SARS CoV-2) with all regulatory bodies to claim that tea tree oil will control viral transmission. Other viruses must be selected (and approved) as representative allowing regulatory approval to be sought for tea tree oil containing formulations.
  • Assess tea tree oil efficacy as a surface agent to evaluate the length of time tea tree oil is active as a virucide beyond the initial 5 to 10 minute range in vitro.

Code of Practice certified 100% pure Australian tea tree oil will be supplied as an in-kind contribution to the project by the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA).

Results will be published in a reputable peer reviewed Journal as a seminal independent reference for tea tree oil antiviral activity.

 Individuals or organisations making a submission are required to demonstrate experience, skills and capacity to undertake this research and to provide robust statistical reporting.

Successful completion of the Request for Quote will include a detailed budget, research design and details of researcher/s and organisation/s capabilities and experience. Applicants are required to speak with John Smith, General Manager Research, prior to submitting the proposal.

Project deliverables

It is expected that the project deliverables will include but are not limited to:

  • Final Report submitted to AgriFutures Australia describing the anti-viral efficacy of tea tree oil in non-technical terms to educate the target audience industry stakeholders including growers, distillers, resellers, purchasers, manufacturers and consumers. AgriFutures will develop a range of communications that will be rolled out across a range of user channels to:
    • Inspire the use of tea tree oil in new product developments and
    • Increase the demand for Australian Tea Tree Oil.
  • Draft manuscript and evidence of submission to a reputable peer reviewed journal conforming to the requirements of this scope submitted to AgriFutures Australia. The journal publications resulting from this research project will describe the methods used to assess the virucidal activity of tea tree oil and validate the anti-viral efficacy of tea tree oil.

Submitting an application

AgriFutures Australia has moved to a new online project management system, K2. This system will manage all stages of project administration and replaces our previous system, Clarity.

Applications for this Request for Quotation must be submitted online using the RFQ application in K2.

If you had a previous account in Clarity, you can login using your Clarity username or email address and the initial password “K2pass!”

You will be prompted to reset this initial password when you login. If at any time you forget your password, you can also reset it via a forgotten password link on the login page.

Users must create a K2 account before submitting a proposal. To set up a secure account before submitting a proposal, please visit the login page below to access our new user or new company request forms.

Usernames and passwords will only be issued while the applicable round is open.

If you require assistance, please contact

Terms and conditions

By submitting an application, respondents acknowledge that they are willing to accept the terms and conditions set out in the Research Agreement.

The Respondent agrees that AgriFutures Australia may accept or decline to accept the Respondent’s Quotation in its discretion. No commitments or contract exists until a contract in the form of the Provider Agreement is executed by both parties. The Respondent agrees that AgriFutures Australia is not required to enter into any contract in connection with the RFQ.

The Respondent agrees that participation in any stage of the RFQ process is at the Respondent’s sole risk and cost.

Acceptance of a Quotation will occur only when an Agreement is issued or a contract is executed.

AgriFutures Australia, at its discretion, may discontinue this RFQ, decline to accept any Quotation, decline to issue any contract or satisfy it requirement separately from this RFQ process.


Date                                       Activity

13 April          2021                        RFQ application open

25 May           2021                       RFQ applications close

15 June          2021                       Expected execution of contract

15 June         2022                        Expected project completion date

AgriFutures Australia believes that the project should be completed within 12 months. If a longer timeframe is required, the applicant should explain why that is the case.


If you have any questions about the RFQ process or requirements, please contact:

John Smith

General Manager, Research