Logistics, costs a roadblock for Atiu’s delectable preserves

16/08/2012

Atiu made chutneys and jams were a big hit at the annual Cook Islands Trade Show held as part of the week long celebrations for the Cook Islands Independence Day on August 4.<!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_3712" align="alignright" width="138" caption="‘A Taste of Atiu’ jams and preserves sold like hot cakes at the trade show in Rarotonga."]<a href="https://pacifictradeinvest.com/PTI/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Atiu-Jams.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-3712" title="Atiu Jams" src="https://pacifictradeinvest.com/PTI/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Atiu-Jams.jpg" alt="" width="138" height="104" /></a>[/caption]

Produced by Jude and Teaukura Isaia of Atiu, the passion fruit, pineapple and star fruit jams, eggplant and pawpaw chutneys were walking off the shelf. One happy customer returned the following day, but the chutney was all sold out and only 23 jam jars left on the table for day two.

The niche cottage industry was born out of necessity. Jude and her husband Teaukura moved to Atiu seven years ago. Fresh produce on the island was hard to get and usually imported. Thanks to her upbringing in Victoria, Australia, and her grandmother who taught her how to make preserves, Jude grew a small garden to supply the family with fruit and vegetables.

This expanded to a plantation that they cleared using machete and chainsaws, square metre by square metre, day by day. It was hard work. They planted citrus and fruit trees, bananas, pawpaw, mango avocado, root crops and vegetables.

Jude, who is a chef by trade, began making preserves for the family with excess produce from the plantation. The community’s barter economy increased demand for the jams and chutneys and gradually shops in Rarotonga began stocking the product.

But the freight costs remain too high for her to consider shipping more produce through to Rarotonga and other islands. The cost to take 3 jam jars at 2kg was $4.00. She bought 130 jars to the trade show plus pandanus baskets, ai, tivaevae, tapa products and hats from vendors unable to attend.

Other problems in shipping were also disheartening for farmers who sometimes watched their fresh produce rotting on the dock in the heat. Freight costs have been a problem that’s been known for years she says. The stronger push to sell locally grown produce still hasn’t addressed the high cost of freight.

– Reported by Eleanor Ikinofo

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