Samoan coconut cream draws positive response

Visitors loved the taste of Samoa’s Savaií Popo canned coconut cream at Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I) Pacific Island stand at Fine Food Australia in Melbourne recently.

Angela, Tricia and Johanna at the Fine Food Australia 2016 show in Melbourne.
Angela, Tricia and Johanna at the Fine Food Australia 2016 show in Melbourne.

With more than 1000 exhibitors and some 25,000 plus trade only visitors to the four-day show, Samoa’s coconut cream products were up against tough competition from suppliers from Malaysia and Thailand. So it was very important to have a strong point of difference.

The neatly packaged cans of coconut cream, light and original stacked up with Palusami, the canned Samoan delicacy of taro leaves and coconut cream, attracted a number of visitors and enquiries to the stand.

The Krissy Company is the owner of Savai’i Popo, Light and Original and canned Palusami. The company is part of Ah Liki Investments Corp.

Tricia Brunt is the Sydney based UPF Wholesaler, (a division of United Pacific Freight Pty Ltd operating from 2009).  She was at Fine Food Australia with Angela Thompson and Johanna Coyle who were behind the stand and reported great visitor and exhibitor responses.

Ms Brunt has imported the premium Savaii Popo brand into Australia since its inception in 2014.  Savaií Popo is marketed to the Pacific community as a “Taste of Home” and is already the established favourites amongst the large Pacific Island communities living in Sydney and Brisbane.  It is also making progress in Melbourne and steadily making inroads into the Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

Ms Brunt said exhibiting at PT&I Pacific Island stand was a great opportunity.  To be amongst other Pacific companies who were also working hard finding markets ideal for their unique products.  However, dial back to the beginning with just a handful of Sydney shops.

Ms Brunt happily reminisced about the early days in trying to break into the Australian market. Much time was spent door-knocking and introducing the product to a new audience.  There were costs in marketing campaigns and successfully building demand in the Pacific islands, Asian and Middle Eastern communities.

Ms Brunt said “The Savaii Popo products surely adds something very different to a market already familiar with coconut creams from Thailand and Malaysia.”

Although there was earlier “resistance and hesitancy” from customers used to what already available Ms Brunt shared the manufacturers Krissy Company belief.

“The product is premium, and consumers will absolutely get value for money because they won’t be buying more water in a product.  They are buying pure or premium coconut cream,” said Ms Brunt.  “It is an ongoing process and one has to continue to adjust to ensure the right pricing, strategically locate the right shops in the right areas where the right target markets are.”

She now has over 80 retailers and strategically placed retailers and distributors throughout Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne especially where there are good concentrations of Pacific communities in Liverpool, Blacktown and Campbelltown.  They also have a few solid buyers in Tasmania and Adelaide.

Her advice to potential exporters into the Australian market is “Do your homework and know where they (customers) are” she said. “It is hard work but not impossible. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork to be export ready, and ensure the quality of your product is there, as well as the consistency in and frequency of supplies. There is nothing worse to a retailer, than a supplier that cannot consistently supply.   Price your products right for ongoing benefits, not be a one-day-millionaire”.

Attitude is a big part of her success where she has worked hard to break into the male dominated markets.  At the end of the day, it’s about doing business.  “Have a goal and be flexible with different cultures” she said.

“Retain your decency, focus on the result.  Everything is possible,” she added.

Ms Brunt came from Samoa to Australia as a teenager.  She holds a Bachelors and Master’s Degree in Business majoring in International Business and Human Resource Manager.  She also has over 16 years of solid international shipping experience.

She is passionate about the end result and the wider impact of the business and putting money into the coconut farmers’ pockets in Samoa.

Manufacturers Krissy Company currently has over 70 farmers certified coconut suppliers with more currently in the process of gaining certification.  A bonus for Samoan coconut suppliers is farmers are paid for the coconuts sold to the manufacturer and the Farmers Association gets a percentage on top from sales generated from overseas wholesalers/distributors such as UPF Wholesale.

With Australia being Samoa’s biggest export market, the PT&I Pacific Islands stand at Fine Food Australia initiative is a welcome boost for exporters.

Figures from the Samoa Bureau of Statistics 2016 June quarter show total exports from Samoa rose by 24.2 percent to $35.1 million compared to the March quarter.  Australia continued as Samoa’s largest export market with figures up to $12.9 million from $9.4 million compared to the previous quarter, 36.6 percent of total exports value.  Coconut oil accounted for 3.1 percent of total export value or $1.1 million and coconut exports had also increased by half a percent to $184,000.

For more information, please contact:  PT&I General Manager Export Jeremy Grennell on jeremy.g@pacifictradeinvest.com.

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