Pacific food products capture Kiwis’ interest


Ross Appleton of Equagold Pure Vanilla is a big fan of promoting the Pacific as a potential food source for New Zealand.<!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_7282" align="alignleft" width="138"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7282" src="" alt="The Equagold stand at the show." width="138" height="104" /></a> The Equagold stand at the show.[/caption]

“Why shouldn’t we promote the Pacific, the islands, the romance – that’s its point of difference” he says.

Pacific Periscope caught up with Mr Appleton on Day 2 of the Food Show in Auckland last week and he was full of praise for the region.

Ross and his wife Dianne started out the Takanini business as a cottage industry more than 10 years ago as Vanilla Direct.  They were importing vanilla and making vanilla extract for the food industry.

Today they have grown that small business and expanded into cocoa, chocolate and spices.  They have an established partnership with a Growers Co-operative in the Torricelli ranges of the Sundaun province in Papua New Guinea.

Originally, importing vanilla from various sources in the Pacific, they were faced with lack of supply when a tropical cyclone hit the supplier in the islands.  After researching alternative sources Mr Appleton found a supplier from PNG.

Going to events such as the Food Show are a branding exercise he says and not about selling to trade customers.

Although shows like this attracted thousands of consumers, they were costly and unless a strong channel to market had been established may not present the best means of getting products to the market.  Trade shows were more appropriate for building networks and capturing trade clients.

The best ways for those who wanted to reach their full potential would be through forming partnerships with established importers, wholesalers and established added value manufacturers.

“You need to connect to an agent, someone to take on the brand and sell it.”

Mr Appleton was supportive of other Pacific products but said his company did not market brands that competed with the products they market under the Equagold brand.

He recommended that small growers may be best to stay with supply rather than venture into their own branding.

In terms of finding a good distributor look for one that is hungry and have connections in different markets.

He added that the growers of vanilla had to understand the production of high quality vanilla.  They had to be prepared to invest in the machinery to process the vanilla to an acceptable standard.  Vanilla had to be moist and not too dry, ideally 30% moisture. Once dried they had to be bagged and bundled and then vacuum packed.

At the show, Pacific Periscope also visited the Heilala Vanilla exhibition stand busy with people taste testing the products.  Although we just missed Jennifer Boggiss, who had to catch a flight home – her team reported although the show was quiet but they were confident it would pick up over the weekend.

Blue Coconut – another of Pacific Trade Invest previous clients were reportedly doing well selling their coconut oils products during the show and had good responses.

For more information on Pacific island products and suppliers please contact: Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest – 09 529 5165 or


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