Deal by Technology Programme

Deal by Technology is a Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) export capability programme aimed at helping Pacific Island businesses leverage technology platforms to meet international standards and improve export performance.

Over the past couple of years, PT&I, as part of its Deal by Technology Programme, has worked with GS1 New Zealand to deliver workshops in the Pacific Islands that focused on understanding global standards and barcode technology.

GS1 is a global not-for-profit organisation that develops and maintains standards for supply and demand chains across multiple sectors. PT&I and GS1 New Zealand delivered Barcode and traceability workshops in Tonga and Samoa in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) in Tonga and Samoa Association of Manufacturers & Exporters (SAME). The workshops introduced the fundamentals of barcode technology, the underlying standards and how businesses in the Pacific could use these technologies to improve their overall business performance.

The workshops generated considerable interest and among companies that pursued plans to ensure that their packaging adhered to international standards. A few companies expressed an interest in going a step further by implementing a bar code technology system in their business. Nishi Trading Co. Limited was one company which took this step, pursuing the initiative with commitment and vigour, allotting financial resources as well as receiving assistance from the Government of Tonga.

Nishi Trading Company

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Fresh squash ready for shipment to South Korea

Nishi Trading Co. Limited is a family owned Tongan enterprise which has operated for over two decades. The company’s roots go back to the 1970s when Minoru Nishi Senior started exporting fresh produce as a sole trader. Today, his son Minoru Nishi Junior has diversified the business into one of the largest agriculture businesses in the Kingdom of Tonga.

 

Over the years, the company has expanded to include, farming supply retail stores, a quarry for manufacturing and raw construction materials and a pest control service. Its latest venture has been the establishment of a training centre for farmers and a packing and processing facility.

As an exporter, Nishi Trading has a proud history of supplying quality products from Tonga to international markets including New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Samoa and American Samoa.

In recent years, the company has achieved several milestones along the way to establishing itself as a world-class supplier of quality agricultural products. The pack house has its HACCP certification and it is the first Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHS) approved warehouse by New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI).

With the growing complexity of its supply chain, Minoru Nishi Junior recognized the need to improve efficiency and establish a system that would increase confidence in their capability to supply. Nishi Trading was interested in the compliance aspect of this system as well as the potential to automate and streamline its supply chain.

As part of the Deal by Technology Programme, PT&I worked closely with Nishi Trading, GS1 and the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Trade, Innovation and Labour (MCCTIL) of the Government of Tonga to implement a complete traceability programme.

“It was a no-brainer installing this system. It meant that we can improve efficiencies in our operation and respond to our international customers’ demands in a more timely and effective manner. Importantly, it shows our commitment to quality and strengthens our brand in international markets,” said Managing Director, Minoru Nishi Junior.

The project began with a feasibility study, which led to a scoping document. Shortly thereafter the implementation process began with GS1 personnel on site in Tonga to work through the existing business processes and take measures to automate many of the manual tasks that the then existent processes followed. Barcodes were designed, readers and scanners shipped in, software written and tested. After a thorough testing process, the system was implemented in the pack-house.

The implementation of barcoding and automation resulted in considerable savings in time and manpower deployment but most importantly eliminated the possibility of errors especially since all documentation was manual. Manual and handwritten entries of data were open to errors, handwriting illegibility, wrong entry into the computers, wrong labelling and faulty export invoicing, packing lists and other documentation. This resulted in considerable delays and losses.

Since implementing the system, Mr Nishi has been satisfied with its impact reporting an improvement in overall performance. He added that staff have been less stressed, productivity in the pack-house has increased and management reports have improved with more accurate information.  Additionally, the system has streamlined its purchasing, inventory, stock management, shipping and despatch operations.

Mr Nishi added, “Customers have been very impressed with the new technology especially with the traceability and reporting functions of the new system. We have been able to provide timely and accurate information to our buyers and key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Primary Industries, ensuring that there are no surprises. Our customers receive exactly what they have ordered.”

Automation in the supply chain documentation process afforded Nishi Trading the opportunity to redeploy its staff to more growth-oriented activities such as marketing, promotion and sales. But most importantly, it addressed any requirements of traceability in respect of food safety, date, time and routeing of the merchandise in destination countries.

“The new traceability system addresses the growing consumer demand to know where the products are from and how they have been produced. By addressing this need, Nishi Trading has a solid foundation for strengthening its export brand and develop its path to market,” said PT&I Trade Development Manager, Joe Fuavao.

This initiative has helped Nishi Trading Co Limited generate more interest from overseas buyers and has paved the way for new market access to China for fresh produce from Tonga and established a platform for expanding into value-added products.

Minoru Nishi Junior thanked PT&I, GS1 New Zealand and the Government of Tonga for their assistance, highlighting the value this system adds to helping Tonga grow its exports.

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

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