Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Yoghurt maker scores a double

Shaun Jacka from Piako Gourmet Yoghurt. Photo / Natalie Slade
Shaun Jacka from Piako Gourmet Yoghurt. Photo / Natalie Slade

A small Auckland yoghurt-maker is milking the local and international markets, announcing a major deal with Fonterra in the same week its pottles hit the shelves of Harrods.

Piako Gourmet Yoghurt, found in most speciality food stores, will now appear in the dairy aisles of supermarkets around New Zealand after a distribution agreement announced on Friday with Fonterra.

Piako's co-founder, Shaun Jacka, said the partnership could eventually see his yoghurt appear in 90 per cent of supermarkets nationwide, potentially quadrupling sales over the next two years.

"It's definitely a big hit [of revenue] very quickly," Jacka said.

Since forming in November 2008, the company has moved into some supermarkets, but Jacka said he would have struggled to distribute the yoghurt en masse without a major partner.

"For a small producer to go nationwide in supermarkets, there's just so many pitfalls and we just haven't got the critical volume or size of the company [to handle it], so we've never focused on supermarkets.

With Fonterra, you get people in twice a day, checking products, talking to managers, rotating stock and fighting for shelf space," he said.

The agreement was a year in the making, as Jacka wanted to make sure Piako did not get sucked up by the dairy giant.

"I had to be very protective of my product, just make sure I wasn't becoming another Fonterra brand. But we've finally got it all signed, sealed, delivered and ready to go," he said.

As well as finalising the lucrative agreement with Fonterra, Piako began selling yoghurt in high-end British store Harrods last week, under the brand Little Melton Gourmet Yoghurt.

"It's been a perfect storm of everything finally happening.

"And the last three months have been a perfect storm of stress trying to make it happen," he said.

Piako had hoped to crack Harrods by last Christmas, but Jacka said a series of misfortunes and December's "weather bomb" delayed efforts.

And despite gaining access to the shelves in one of Britain's most prestigious food halls, Jacka said the company has a lot of room to grow, because of the size of the UK market.

"We've had a lot of interest from all the supermarket chains, but we've got to be careful and recreate what we've done in New Zealand with the small, gourmet feel and then let it grow into supermarkets. So we're pulling back a bit and targeting specialty stores," he said.

"We'll try to recreate that word of mouth buzz that's worked so well for us here."

- NZ Herald

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