FMF plans new product exports to NZ after food show success

High consumer interest in its packaged snack foods at the recent Auckland Food Show has enthused Flour Mills of Fiji (FMF), one of the South Pacific’s largest food companies, to launch more products from its range in the New Zealand market.

FMF's Rakesh Raju at the Auckland Food Show. FMF was one of eight Pacific food and beverage companies whose participation PT&I facilitated at the show.
FMF’s Rakesh Raju at the Auckland Food Show. FMF was one of eight Pacific food and beverage companies whose participation PT&I facilitated.

A household name in the Pacific Islands region over the past four decades, the FMF brand is renowned for many iconic brands like FMF Breakfast Crackers, All-Natural Fine Fare Cream biscuits and cookies and a growing range of sweet and savoury packaged snack foods. It’s state of the art flour and biscuit factory in Suva exports around the region including to New Zealand and Australia. This year it invested F$40 million on a new biscuit factory with a view to boost its export capacity.

FMF’s biscuit products have long been available in the New Zealand market: FMF Breakfast Crackers, Cookies, Tymo chocolate enrobed biscuits, Chow Noodles are all on major supermarket and convenience store shelves around New Zealand.

“Many more products should be on their way soon, especially after seeing the interest at the AFS,” says Ram Bajekal, FMF Managing Director, speaking to Pacific Periscope from Suva.

Rakesh Raju, Business Development Manager-Exports, who was at the FMF stand at the AFS said, “We showcased some of our newest products such as Scott’s Crave, crispy and cheese flavoured bites, Dalo and Cassava Chips. These products received excellent reviews and opened leads to exporting opportunities in the New Zealand market and other Pacific Island countries.”

FMF was one of eight companies that participated in the Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I)-facilitated Pacific Foods and Beverages stand at AFS. Mr Raju described the response to FMF products at the show as “overwhelming.” Many were surprised that such a large range of products were all made in Fiji, he said. The experience helped generate nearly a dozen strong leads, he added.

Mr Raju said the FMF brand was established with Pacific Island people living in Auckland and that the company was now seeking to strengthen its consumer presence in the mainstream New Zealand market.

FMF Group Managing Director Ram Bajekal.
FMF Group Managing Director Ram Bajekal.

“Creating consumer awareness of a brand in a new market is a long and expensive process – these kind of trade shows give us a window to be seen and then recognised when we eventually come in with our products,” Mr Bajekal said. “While quite a few consumers knew our ‘Webster’s Fine Fare’ brand they were not aware that Fine Fare products were being made in Fiji. They were unaware that we had bought out the Australian brand in 2004.”

Both Mr Raju and Mr Bajekal said that FMF’s participation at the AFS was an excellent learning experience. “This Food show gave me an opportunity to interact directly with the final customers,” Mr Raju said.

Terming FMF’s participation as “A tremendous learning experience,” Mr Bajekal said that it was important that staff got to see how other players in the region displayed their products, the kind of interaction they had with visitors to the stall, the kinds of questions they were asked and so on. “When we participate in trade shows in Pacific Island countries, we hardly get the kind of detailed questions that we were being asked at AFS,” he added.

Mr Bajekal said that his team was able to clearly see what New Zealand consumers wanted in terms of products, tastes and flavours, packaging, price-points and sale outlets, which would help FMF decide on the new range of products to launch in New Zealand.

For more information, please email PT&I Trade Development Manager Joe Fuavao at joe.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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