We are a very small manufacturer located in Avondale, Auckland. Canaan Cheese was a company we (Ofer Shenhav and myself) purchased in 2009 with the intention of creating " the collective" and producing beautiful dairy products, especially yoghurt. It was a massive factory at the time for a pretty small business so it needed to grow. We are very lucky we did and now we are well filled out and have invested very well in a state of the art dairy plant which serves as our innovation kitchen to expand globally. Dairy is a very expensive capital rich business and requires a lot of investment upfront to produce a clean and consistent product.
What was the decision making process you went through to go international?
Both Ofer and I had been through setting up and selling fresh meals businesses in New Zealand ( Pitango and Naked ) and on a trip overseas in the early stages we saw a massive gap in the UK and US markets for the product we made so we just decided to go for it and do something different to what we had done in the past. It was so fantastic to see our products on the shelves in Waitrose for the first time and this is when we realised that our brand and product were pretty special.
What arrangement do you have to manufacture in the UK?
It has worked out very well. We have great partners (yoghurt manufacturers) who make the highest quality product with the best milk. It allows our team to focus solely on sales and marketing which is very different from our New Zealand business.
How did you go about choosing your manufacturer in the UK? What other markets would you do this in?
It was more of a case of finding someone who wanted to take a punt on a small yoghurt manufacturer from New Zealand, Thankfully they had the foresight to see what we wanted to do and partner with us. Luckily for us they are about as good as we are in yoghurt making and have the same culture and vision as we do, which is vitally important.
Where else are you exporting to?
We currently export to Hong Kong , Thailand, Australia and Singapore. This really is our limit as these markets are close and we are more about manufacturing in market because our product is made with fresh milk and has a short shelf life. We are currently working on other large markets to enter.
How can a board help SMEs make sound decisions and take brave steps? What have boards done for some of our fast growing SMEs?