David is the business writer for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post.

Heilala Vanilla secures major shelf space in Oz

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Jennifer Boggiss from Heilala Vanilla. Photo/File
Jennifer Boggiss from Heilala Vanilla. Photo/File

Bay of Plenty-based Heilala Vanilla has launched its range of pure vanilla products into Australia's biggest supermarket chains, after more than a year of negotiations.

A selection of Heilala products was now available in about 700 Coles stores and 839 Woolworths supermarkets throughout Australia, said co-founder and chief executive Jennifer Boggiss.

"We are committed to building the Heilala Vanilla brand in Australia and this represents one of the many opportunities we are pursuing in the market."

Woolworths will stock the 50ml vanilla extract and the two-piece vanilla beans, while Coles will sell the award-winning 65g vanilla paste.

Previously, Heilala Vanilla has been available only through gourmet and specialist food stores in Australia.

Adrian Bell, a Melbourne-based fast-moving consumer goods consultant whose company BellCom Marketing has been advising Heilala Vanilla, said Woolworths and Coles accounted for 70 per cent of the market.

"For a small New Zealand enterprise to break into these major retailers, in a category dominated by large European multinationals, is a significant achievement," he said.

Heilala Vanilla's marketing had included offering genuine quality products to consumers in the emerging "bake at home" market, driven by reality cooking, baking television shows and powerful media awareness, he said.

"They are contributing to market growth and educating consumers gradually that there is no substitute for quality."

Heilala Vanilla had been available in New Zealand supermarkets for five years, with sales increasing every year, said Ms Boggiss.

The company has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Tauranga's Newnham Park Innovation Centre.

The company was established on the island of Vava'u in Tonga and harvested its first crop 11 years ago.

"Vanilla was already growing on the island and we were instrumental in re-invigorating the vanilla industry there," Ms Boggiss said.

Heilala pays growers more than the commodity market price for vanilla beans.

"From the start, our driving force was to create a premium vanilla brand that benefited a community in a very remote part of the South Pacific," Ms Boggiss said.

"We have seen first-hand the positive impact this has had on the local community."

Heilala Vanilla products have won praise from chefs, food writers and foodies in New Zealand and internationally - as well as winning culinary awards. The products are also used in restaurants including Attica in Melbourne, Michelin-star restaurants Manresa and Melisse in California, and Crosstown Donuts in London.

"We are making great progress in becoming the market leader in the vanilla category," said Ms Boggiss.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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