Nine Pacific Island food and beverage exporters who participated in the Auckland Food Show last week are unanimous about their positive experience at New Zealand’s biggest food show.

Pacific participants with PTI team members at the PTI NZ Pacific Hub stand at the Auckland Food Show last week.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand facilitated the participation of these companies from five Pacific Island countries at the show at a cluster of booths specially and prominently branded ‘The Pacific Hub’.

“This year the show had a lot more features which attracted large crowds to the show over the four days. The Pacific Hub was one of the feature stands in the main hall which attracted many curious consumers and interested buyers,” said Joe Fuavao, PTI NZ Trade Development Manager.

“The companies approached the Auckland Food Show with 3 main goals in mind – finding potential buyers, building their brand awareness and conducting consumer research,” he added.

Visitors thronged the PTI Pacific Hub. Here they are seen at Elife’s turmeric drink booth.

PTI will follow up with the companies over the next few weeks to see how they progressed with the leads the food show has helped generate. However, as the show wound down on Sunday evening, the participants said the show met with or exceeded their expectations.

Companies that were repeat participants said this year’s show was more productive than previous shows in terms of both leads generated and counter sales. Gerish Punja of J Punja, said the show was a great place to taste-test new products. The company, which had also participated last year, test-marketed its new product, cabin bread, at the show. “We’re yet to launch it in the retail market. We’re happy the feedback has been positive. This is good place to take on board customers comments on not just our new products but our whole range,” he said.

Grace Wilson of Wilex Samoa talks to a customer.

Niue Vanilla’s Stanley Kalauni, who signed a nationwide retail deal with the Trade Aid stores during last year’s Auckland Food Show, was appreciative of this year’s participation. He said the interest from independent stores from across the country, particularly the provinces, showed the depth of the market that extended beyond the main urban centres. Mr Kalauni said the Niue Vanilla range of products had sold well during the four days of the show.

Tavulomo Coconut’s ‘Coconut Jerky’ was listed in the New Zealand Herald’s coverage of the food show as one of the five things to try out at the show. Owner Chris Wyllie said visitors were “very curious” about coconut jerky and the product sold well across the counter. PTI’s extensive social media coverage during the show got him enquiries for Tavulomo’s Fijian Virgin Coconut Oil from as far afield as Japan, Mr Wyllie said.

Gerish Punja of J Punja samples biscuit products.

Etu and Elena Tusitala’s Elife Samoan organic turmeric-based drinks received great media billing, being featured on Television New Zealand’s breakfast show. Turmeric is clearly the flavour of the season as far as health foods go and the Tusitalas’ innovation with a blended turmeric-coconut drink and a non-dairy turmeric latte flew off the counters at a rate at blinding speeds. The pair juggled answering questions from prospective customers with sampling products and serving them full orders.

Papua New Guinea’s Paradise Foods was a first-time participant with its wide range of their Queen Emma branded chocolates, and Paradise spices. General Manager Karina Makori said the response to their products at the food show had exceeded her expectations. “It’s a first time for us. But the response has been fantastic,” she said. The company was approached with several potential distribution offers, she revealed.

FMF’s Bob Hart and Rajesh Raju setting up their booth on the first day.

Samoa’s Koko Loa chocolates and cocoa evinced interest from curious customers wanting to try out chocolates made from Samoan cocoa. Grace Wilson of Samoan food products exporter Wilex said the chocolates sold well across the counter and had received offers from potential distributors.

Major Fijian food products exporter FMF sampled and sold its range of biscuits and Dalo chips at the show. “We taste-tested the new flavours of biscuits and are really pleased with the positive feedback,” Export Manager Rakesh Raju said. FMF had also participated last year and Mr Raju said that this year’s show seemed bigger with more visitors and better over the counter sales.

Fellow Fijian bottled water manufacturer and exporter Pleass beverages, however, was a first-time participant. National Sales Manager Stanley Naicker said the novel shape of the bottle and its biodegradability were great conversation starters. He was happy with the potential distribution leads that he had picked up as well as with the level of sampling and the positive feedback he received.

VaiWai’s Stanley Naicker speaks to a visitor at his stand.

Tonga’s Tupu’anga Coffee was quite an attraction at The Hub, with coffee-grower-cum-barista Alipate Mafileo’s generous, outgoing personality bringing in a steady stream of visitors wanting to sample and buy the coffee and Manioke chips. Mr mafileo’s cheerful banter not only kept visitors’ spirits high but also energised staff at The Hub. Mr Mafileo was interviewed and featured on Maori TV as were many of the other participants.

“Overall the feedback has been positive from the nine companies with all reporting leads generated, increased awareness with PTI’s exposure and a better understanding of consumers in the New Zealand market,” Mr Fuavao said.

Representatives from major retailers and distribution companies visited the Pacific Hub, interested in sourcing Pacific products which could provide a point of difference in the market, Mr Fuavao revealed.

Pacific Periscope will publish detailed reports of the participants experience in forthcoming editions.

For more information, please email Joe Fuavao, PTI NZ Trade Development Manager at

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