Fiji coconut oil producer scores in value-added market

For Fiji coconut oil producer Chris Wyllie of Tavulomo Coconut Processing Limited moving into the value-added niche arena has opened the door to more markets.

A freshly packed batch of Tavulomo Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) destined for one of its growing markets.

Competition in New Zealand coconut oil market is tough, filled with many suppliers and distributors. But Mr Wyllie has carved a niche for his value-added coconut products.

Mr Wyllie’s expertise was recognised when he was invited to make a presentation on value-added products at the at the Coconut Industry Development for the Pacific Value Chain Stakeholders Workshop in Nadi earlier this month.

Mr Wyllie said attending the workshop was a good opportunity to hear from other coconut industry experts from as far away as the Caribbean, India and Jakarta in Indonesia.  There were also 12 Pacific Islands country representatives and a Samoan delegate from Brussels in the European Union.

Tavulomo Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) is produced in the small village of Tavulomo in the Bua district on Vanua Levu, Fiji.  Mr Wyllie and his partner Rusila built the Tavulomo coconut oil processing factory about four years ago and then began producing and selling Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO).

They started selling coconut oil at local weekend markets in and around Auckland.  But faced with tough competition, they began developing value added products such as coconut water and coconut jerky made from the young green coconuts.  Through hard work and good product development Mr Wyllie has now established a niche in the raw and vegan market.

A recent shipment of 2.4 tonne of coconut products included 300 litres of VCO headed to Paris and 1800 litres of coconut water for New Zealand.  In addition, were 1400 jars of coconut oil and samples of coconut jerky to Japan.

Chris Wyllie and his partner Rusila seeing off a shipment.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ has worked closely with Mr Wyllie since he began selling coconut oil in New Zealand. He was invited to participate in this year’s PTI NZ Path to Market delegation to Pasifika Festival in March and is an exhibitor at the PTI NZ Pacific Hub at the Auckland Food Show this month.

Coconut oil exports from the Pacific to New Zealand have gradually increased by 32 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015. PNG is the biggest Pacific Island exporter of coconut oil followed by Fiji Samoa and the Solomon Islands. There is also a noticeably bigger demand from the local Fiji market, Mr Wyllie said.

But bubbling away in another faraway market is an important export opportunity in France.  Mr Wyllie completed his third shipment of Tavulomo coconut oil to a buyer in Paris. He also had another small trial order earlier in the year to Norway.

The French buyer came directly from attending one of Europe’s largest two-yearly Food Fair, ANUGA, in Cologne in 2015. ANUGA hosts 10 Trade Fairs under its umbrella, with some 7,000 exhibitors from 187 countries attracting 160,000 visitors from the retail trade and the service and the catering market.

Mr Wyllie attended ANUGA 2015 as part of a Pacific delegation organised by Robyn Ekstrom, Trade Promotion Advisor at the PTI Geneva office in Switzerland.  He is once again returning to Europe for ANUGA 2017.

Tavulomo Coconut oil is made from Virgin Coconut Oil using coconuts that are strictly selected and processed under strict international quality control processes. The company provides employment for the local people of Tavulomo Village and assists with the development of the region through sourcing coconut supplies from local farmers.

For more information, please contact, Joe Fuavao, PTI NZ Trade Development Manager, on joe.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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