Pacific vanilla company celebrates 10 years


Heilala, New Zealand’s only premium vanilla grower and producer, was established as an aid project after a cyclone ripped through the Tongan island of Vava’u.<!--more-->

[caption id="attachment_7177" align="alignleft" width="138"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7177" src="" alt="Sofaia Latu and Jennifer Boggiss of Heilala Vanilla" width="138" height="104" /></a> Sofaia Latu and Jennifer Boggiss of Heilala Vanilla[/caption]

This led to the founding of Heilala Vanilla and the first harvest of vanilla beans in 2005. Since the first harvest, Heilala has built strong supply relationships throughout Tonga.

Since arriving on supermarket shelves, Heilala Vanilla has grown into a world-class food business, winning customers with its range of organically grown, bourbon variety pure vanilla products. The company has also won praise from the food industry and chefs alike, and now exports to more than seven countries.  Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (PT&amp;I) has worked with Heilala on export promotion over the years.

Heilala is also aiming to get the vanilla industry in the Cook Islands off the ground by assisting and advising growers there. Vanilla growing is still in its early stages but Heilala hopes to include the Cook Islands in the future supply chain.

“By having continuity of supply, we can secure more customers, and more importantly, ensure long term financial security for our growers,” says company co-founder and CEO, Jennifer Boggiss.

“We have seen first-hand the difference supporting growers can make to communities. Our priority, remains with building the Tongan vanilla industry and supporting the communities of Tonga through various initiatives, including the Heilala Vanilla Foundation.”

By partnering with the people of Tonga, Heilala has helped to revive the island’s vanilla-growing industry. Jennifer says the business is more than just economic development. “The relationship we have with the people of Vava’u and Tonga is a very special one,” she says. “The passion of those involved, both in Tonga and in New Zealand, has played a big role in the success of Heilala.”

Most recently, Heilala partnered with the Tonga National Youth Congress, with support from Oxfam NZ, to produce an extra virgin coconut oil under the Heilala brand. This product also helps support its vanilla growers.

“Producing an extra virgin coconut oil is a natural extension of the Heilala brand. It is a high-quality product which directly supports Tongan communities,” says Jennifer.

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