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Participating in the Auckland Food Show this year meant more than just meeting potential distributors and customers for one of Auckland’s leading packaged food and beverage distributors, Ashon Ventures.
The company found three new Pacific Island products for potential New Zealand-wide distribution right next to their own booth, which was one of nine booths at the specially designated Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ stand at the show in July this year.
PTI NZ’s stand featured nine food and beverage exporters from six Pacific Island countries — Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Solomon Islands and Niue — at the Auckland Food Show this year.
Ashon Ventures NZ was invited to join the PTI stand and saw a good opportunity to share in a collective of Pacific businesses and raise awareness of the quality and value of Pacific origin products under the PTI NZ banner.
The company started off in 1989 as a fast-moving consumer goods wholesale, import and food distributor before developing its own brands and competing with other market leaders. It distributes 15 product categories from office, baking and cooking to beverages, sauces, snacks and water products including several originating in the Pacific Islands region. Ashon Ventures traces its own roots back to Fiji.
Among the products it displayed and sold at the Auckland Food Show was Fijian grown and packaged Pacific Crown Chief’s Kava sourced from Kava Gold, a company which PTI NZ has worked with for a few years now (PTI NZ featured Kava Gold at Pasifika Festivals twice).
While the show helped Ashon find new distributors for Pacific Crown Chief’s Kava, it is products from Papua New Guinea, Niue and Samoa that caught the country-wide distribution company’s eye.
“Meeting Namalu Coffee from PNG right next to our booth, Niue Vanilla along the aisle and Elife turmeric products in front of our booth was great,” Managing Director Jay Patel told Pacific Periscope.
Patel said discussions with the owners of PNG’s Lae, Morobe Province-based Namalu Coffee, Elaine and Jack Amos, were ongoing for launching their coffee products in New Zealand in the not-too-distant future.
“There are many coffee importers from PNG in New Zealand, but they all blend it with other coffees. We plan to sell it as single origin coffee from PNG under the distinct Namalu brand,” Patel said.
Ashon plans to retain Namalu’s brand name and is working on redesigning the packaging and graphics for the New Zealand market.
“We acknowledge Namalu’s expertise, generations-old experience and brand value and are looking at opportunities to extend the product range around the Namalu name, keeping the PNG character of the coffee but repackaging for Kiwi standards with design and graphics more suited to the Kiwi market,” Mr Patel added.
Jack and Elaine Amos are graduates of the PTI NZ Path to Market programme and have participated in several PTI NZ-hosted trade stands in food and beverage trade shows in New Zealand including Pasifika.
Patel said he was also keen on pursuing Niue Vanilla’s product range. Like Namalu Coffee, PTI NZ has worked with and Niue Vanilla International’s Stanley Kalauni for several years. Niue Vanilla, too, is a graduate of the Path to Market programme. “We’re in discussions with Stanley about distribution through our networks.”
Partnering with Ashon Ventures means the potential to get product to reach every corner of New Zealand through its vast, countrywide distribution network.
Besides retail networks, the company also picks up opportunities to sell product at sports venues around major fixtures.
“We’ve been selling Chief’s kava and other Pacific-origin products at major sporting events, particularly involving Pacific Island teams around the country,” Patel said.
Interestingly, non-Pacific Island-origin New Zealanders have also been developing a taste for kava, according to Patel. “Tourists and holiday makers who have tasted kava when they were in the islands are pleasantly surprised to find it here and are now a growing market for us,” he added.
“We are also looking at distributing Etu Tusitala’s Elife Wild Turmric Drink product are in talks,” Patel said. Mr Tusitala, also a Path to Parket graduate, is currently in Europe participating in the Caffe Culture show in London and at SIAL in Paris.
So, being at the PTI NZ stand in the Auckland Food Show has opened distribution doors for several companies and has potentially brought new products to Ashon Ventures’ distribution network.
Patel is positive about the potential for growth in Pacific Islands products. His company has plans to move into a much bigger purpose-built storage and distribution facility over the next year or so and is keen to add both frozen products and fresh produce into his considerable network of nationwide distribution channels.
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