An audible sigh of relief resounded when Tanna Coffee was deemed an essential service during the recent alert level four lockdown in New Zealand, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting the tick of approval from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to operate as an essential service means distribution of Tanna Coffee has continued in New Zealand throughout this uncertain period.
Auckland-based Tanna Coffee New Zealand Directors Shirley Webb-Speight and Andrea Bevan say they received a pleasant surprise when orders increased when the country entered lockdown.
“Since then the business has been doing well – customers who might usually only order a small amount have been ordering kilos and demand has not let up,” Shirley says.
Fortunately, there is plenty of stock in New Zealand for Tanna Coffee customers over the next few months and although costly, the business can ship stock from Vanuatu via sea while freight-carrying aircraft remain mostly grounded.
The Tanna Coffee Development Company (TCDC) was first established in 1982, to assist in the development of the newly independent Vanuatu.
In 1998, a coffee farmer from Australia Terry Adlington took over the company and lived and worked with the farmers on Tanna Island for three years to educate them on the process of coffee growing, harvesting, and processing their valuable product.
Once established and producing quality coffee, TCDC moved to Port Vila to establish a Coffee Roastery and went about securing local and international customers.
The production grew over the next 13 years, and in 2014, TCDC recorded a maximum production of over 86 tonne.
In 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam wiped out Vanuatu and its 84 Islands.
Slowly but surely, the island nation and Tanna Coffee are rebuilding.
While production is nowhere near Pre-Cyclone Pam levels, Terry has reported from Vanuatu, the first harvest of the year is looking to be a promising one for the 1000 farmers who grow plants for the business, Andrea says.
Tanna Coffee attracts a loyal following – most of its customers have been to Vanuatu, have a love for the island and its people, and support fair trade.
“Our customers are positive their money is going back to the village when they buy our product,” she adds.
Tanna Coffee farmers are paid on a per kilo basis, depending on the quality of the beans.
“It is the farmers’ only cash crop – and they grow coffee so they can send their children to school…this is also our motivation to do what we do as well.”
Another reason it has attracted a loyal customer base is due to its coffee beans being roasted and packaged in Vanuatu.
“This means we avoid the fumigation process required for green coffee beans on arrival into New Zealand, and it is certified organic.”
Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand is a long-time advocate for Tanna Coffee, and Terry connected the PTI NZ team with the New Zealand Directors.
Shirley explains in recent years, PTI NZ has assisted Tanna Coffee New Zealand by supporting the business financially to exhibit at The Food Show, The Coffee and Chocolate Show and various tradeshows, as well as offering helpful advice on how to expand the business’ market and reach.
“Last year, 30,000 people attended The Food Show, which is great exposure for us…PTI has always been willing to help us with whatever we need,” she adds.
Although facing unprecedented times, Shirley and Andrea remain optimistic and plan to continue promoting Tanna Coffee to New Zealand at food shows when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
For now, they are processing online orders only – you can order Tanna Coffee HERE.
Contact Trade Development Manager for PTI NZ Ian Furlong – Ian.F@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz for more information.