For some of the Pacific exporters attending Fine Food Australia held in Melbourne for the first time, the show was an eye opener.
With 1000 exhibitors and 24,000 visitors across the four-day trade only showcase it would have been easy to overlook small island nations. But the Pacific Islands stand organised by the Sydney office of Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) was hard to miss and shone brightly with 11 exhibitor stands and 11 companies participating.
Placed in the International Foods section, it was surrounded by big hitters such as Austria on one side, the United States, Canada and Italy on another. But Pacific businesses proudly held their own as a contingent shining through in the arc lights of international attention.
PT&I Sydney Trade Commissioner Caleb Jarvis said Fine Food Australia continued to be important as the leading trade show in the southern hemisphere for exporters looking to access international markets. He also praised the Pacific Island exporters for their dedication and hard work in promoting Pacific island products.
“It is a great privilege to work with such professional, committed and passionate exporters. I am always heartened by their purpose in terms of working for their countries back home,” Mr Jarvis said.
“There were some companies that are new to exporting this year and we are confident they will get exports and networks established through the PT&I Pacific Island stand.”
The initiative provided a platform for exporters of premium products to engage directly with Australian and international buyers, PT&I General Manager Exports Jeremy Grennell said.
“These products illustrate the diversity of premium food and beverage products coming out of the Pacific,” he said.
This year, six companies were nominated in the New Product Showcase exhibited publicly in the foyer outside. Four out of these six were from Vanuatu including Tusker Beer, Lapita Café, Vanuatu Direct and Vanuatu Coconut Oil made the showcase. Vanuatu had four participating companies, the largest ever contingent at the show.
Papua New Guinea was represented by Patrick Killoran of Banz Kofi and Dennis Hill and Pauline Cleaver from Niugini Organics. Samoa had distributor Tricia Brunt from United Pacific Freight (UPF) exhibiting canned coconut cream, Savai’i Popo, original and lite along with canned Palusami (taro leaves and coconut cream) and coconut oil along with Nia and Phil Belcher’s Ola Pasifika koko samoa (hot chocolate), cocoa nibs and chocolates as well as Nora Plantations’ cacao nibs and cubes. Vanuatu Brewing’s master brewer Francois Lhote and sales manager Dennis Coteron had daily crowds lined up for Tusker Beer.
Meanwhile, Votausi and Geordie McKenzie-Reur in the next stand found their manioc flour, roasted nuts and tamarind chutneys were equally appreciated. Tim Firmin represented Vanuatu Direct with Feijoa juice while Nicolas Monvoisin offered high quality coconut oil from Vanuatu Coconut Oil. Clive and Sarah Carroll represented Commodity Corporation with Solomon Islands’ dark chocolate. Sashi Kiran, Dr Jone Hawea and Doris Valentine from Fiji NGO FRIEND generated interest in the wide variety of teas, spices and chutneys that they had on display. Vinay Kumar from Punjas in Fiji showcased their biscuit range.
Mr Grennell said he was pleased with the feedback from the participants. For many this was the first time for them to get in front of a large group of potential buyers. It allowed them to engage in a one-on-one focused environment and tell the story behind their premium products. For many, Fine Food Australia is one of the biggest platforms to showcase their wares.
With more than 45 countries at the trade show the Pacific Islands could show the world that they can match it with the best, he said.
This was the sixth year PT&I had attended Fine Food and the momentum and focus continues to build each year Mr Grennell said.
For more information, please contact PT&I General Manager Exports Jeremy Grennell at firstname.lastname@example.org