Focus on Vanuatu Products at Fine Food Australia

Four Vanuatu companies featured in the New Product Showcase at the Fine Food Australia in Melbourne recently.

It was a major achievement for Vanuatu businesses who were first timers at the Trade only expo.

Products came from the international award winning Vanuatu Brewing Limited with Tusker Beer, Lapita Café with Manioc flour, dried/roasted nuts and tamarind, Vanuatu Direct Limited’s Feijoa Juice and Vanuatu Coconut Oil.

Vanuatu companies were part of the Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) Pacific Island stand featuring 11 companies from five Pacific Island countries including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa. It was the sixth year PT&I Sydney has had a stand at Fine Food Australia, which attracts more than 1000 exhibitors and some 24,000 visitors across the four-day show. Fine Food gives Pacific island businesses a platform to showcase their premium and niche products and gain direct access to Australian and international buyers in a focussed environment.

With high numbers of exhibitors vying for attention, being selected for the Fine Food New Products Showcase is an added bonus. It gives companies extra spotlight and promotion, their products exhibited in the foyer of the Melbourne Convention Centre.

PT&I Sydney Trade Commissioner Caleb Jarvis said it was extremely pleasing to see the largest contingent from Vanuatu this year. The exhibitors brought laughter, excitement and authenticity to this year’s showcase, he said.

Fine Food Australia continues to be important as the leading trade show in the southern hemisphere for exporters looking to access international markets – the trade show is perfect, Mr Jarvis said.

Vanuatu Trade Commissioner to Australia Donald Pelam said there was a big future for Vanuatu in Australia. It was a big step forward compared with the first exhibition when they had only one participant.

Mr Pelam was impressed to see products from all four Vanuatu companies selected in the New Product showcase.

“It is really good to see the products featured here and really good to see the Pacific Island products on the market. It’s something to be proud of,” he said.

There was also a good response by visitors to the Vanuatu products with Tusker Beer attracting lines of happy samplers, numerous enquiries about Lapita Café’s gluten free flour, Vanuatu Coconut Oil and Vanuatu Direct Feijoa Juice.

But for Vanuatu being at Fine Food is also testament to its people’s resilience after recovering from Cyclone Pam over a year ago.

On March 13, 2015, the islands of Vanuatu were struck by Cyclone Pam, one of the most powerful cyclones to sweep across the nation. The wind gusts of up to 320 kilometres an hour left more than 75,000 people homeless and at least 15 people lost their lives. Homes, buildings, roads, plantations crops and infrastructure were all decimated by the cyclone. An August 15, 2015 report estimated the financial toll of $590 million, which was more than half of Vanuatu’s yearly GDP.

It had not been an easy path for the companies to get to the show but it was an opportunity to make good use of and tap into. The show was an opportunity to introduce products into niche markets and exchange contacts and information in a one to one setting he said. Attending Fine Food was an opportunity to get the requirements, test and adjust to the market.

In May this year, PT&I Trade Commissioner and Mr Pelam visited Vanuatu meeting with Vanuatu manufactures, other tourism/investments opportunities, Australian High Commission and the Government of Vanuatu as a courtesy call by strengthening working relationships, showing the strong commitment to the Pacific region and Vanuatu.

Last month, Mr Pelam visited Vanuatu again with PT&I Export Manager Teremoana Mato. They called on business owners encouraging them not to give up or lose hope but to participate in this year’s Fine Food Australia. “I know you guys can make it,” he told them. He got on the phone to offer assistance but their physical presence in personal meetings to offer assistance in one-one appointments with manufacturers also went a long way.

Mr Pelam who is based at the PT&I Sydney office said it was an advantage to be with the office.  “I’m happy I’m with PT&I, it makes it easy to make connections and the export team helped with finding Australian distributors,” he said.

Government of Vanuatu through the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Commerce/Industry and Ni-Vanuatu Business also played its part in helping exporters to improve the standard, to promote the industries and look for markets but it was a two-way commitment. Manufacturers also needed to have timely responses, upskill themselves, improve on their product presentation and get themselves export ready, Mr Pelam added.


Photo/Facebook:Vanuatu Brewing Limited with Tusker Beer participating at Fine Food Australia