Thousands of food and beverage enthusiasts thronged the Pacific Hub area at Auckland’s biggest annual food event, the Auckland Food Show, last week between 26 and 29 July. 

The Solomon’s Gold stand was one of nine PTI NZ Pacific Hub stands at the Auckland Food Show.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand hosted nine Pacific Island food and beverage companies at the Pacific Hub at the show. The companies were from Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Solomon Islands and Niue.

The specially designated area for the PTI NZ-hosted Pacific Island companies attracted Kiwis keen to try out and buy foods and beverages from our Pacific neighbours. The Auckland Food Show is a business-to-consumer event where visitors can buy products, often at a discount.

The event also affords new products and those from outside New Zealand to find retailers and distributors, just as many companies that PTI NZ has hosted in past shows have. Distributor interest for new products featured at last week’s show was encouraging.

“The 2018 Auckland Food Show was perhaps the best designed stand over the last four years,” PTI NZ Trade & Investment Commissioner Michael Greenslade told Pacific Periscope. “Having the nine stands separated so that we had a common area in between (four stands on one side and five on the other) meant that we owned the entire floor space. This was invaluable for networking and directing customers to the appropriate stands.”

Sir Micahel Jones gives a thumbs up to his favourite ELife turmeric drink at ELife’s stand.

“This was the first time for us in New Zealand,” Tahitian rum company Tamure Rhum’s Rony Moux told Pacific Periscope. “The sales were steady, but we met with lots of potential distributors. It’s a question of following up with communication.” (See accompanying story).

“We were very pleased to host French Polynesia for the first time,” Mr Greenslade said.

Companies like Niue Vanilla, J PunjaNZ, ELife and Solomon’s Gold have all participated in the show in previous years and said that by being at the show in successive years, they were able to develop a rapport with repeat customers, many of who recognise them from previous years.

“Every show adds value to the business and it is a great opportunity to keep continuity with existing customers who come in every year,” Stanley Kalauni of Niue Vanilla said — a view that is shared by J PunjaNZ’s Gerish Punja.

For Papua New Guinea’s Namalu Coffee, the Auckland Food Show was its third participation in a trade show in Auckland this year – all PTI NZ events: Namalu was earlier at Pasifika in March and the Fine Food Show in June.

The kava ceremony at PTI NZ’s Pacific Hub at the Auckland Food Show.

“We are close to a deal with a New Zealand distributor for our range of coffees,” Elaine Amos said. The company is planning to launch new products like coffee bags (similar to tea bags) later this year and has also finalised a distribution arrangement in the United States.

Ashon Ventures’ Jive! promotion, where visitors to the stand were encouraged to jive while sampling the eponymous potato snack to the accompanying music, drew a great response.

The company also took the initiative to host an almost impromptu Fijian kava ceremony in the Pacific Hub. The ceremony, complete with traditionally costumed Fijian men and a largish tanoa (kava bowl) to boot also proved an instant attraction with many onlookers encouraged to sample kava in a traditional coconut cup.

“On the Thursday and Friday, all our office appointments were reprogrammed to be held at the show, which worked well for all of us,” Mr Greenslade said.

That meant that the PTI NZ team was available at all times for the participants.

As well as the steady stream of visitors that were busy sampling and buying Pacific Island products, the Pacific Hub was abuzz with several VIP visitors with longstanding relationships with the people of the Pacific.

Crowds at the Pacific Hub.

Among these were celebrated New Zealand All Black Sir Michael Jones, who spent at least an hour visiting all the nine stands and speaking to participants with interest and trying out what was on offer. His presence drew visitors to the Pacific Hub like bees to honey.

Sir Michael has been promoting Samoan turmeric drink maker’s ELife turmeric products and it was great to see him in person at the ELife stand at the show.

Also visiting was former long-time New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Murray McCully who has championed the Pacific Islands for years. Mr McCully also spent time speaking with the participants and knowing more about their products.

Other first-time participants like Fiji Cacao and Samoa’s Krissy Company were impressed at the exposure the four-day event gave their products. Fiji Cacao almost sold out its stock just as Solomon’s Gold did, while Sam Yip representing Krissy Company widely sampled their coconut cream and canned palusami products.

For more information, email PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong at ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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