Durello founders Marcelo Menoita and Barbara Scholten are giving Kiwis a taste of Brazil. The specialty food producers talk about their international expansion plans and the business' family ties.
A brief description of the business
Menoita: We are manufacturers of traditional Brazilian food in New Zealand; everything we develop is based on my mother's recipes of 58 years.
My mother learnt the recipes from my grandmother and she then taught me a couple of decades ago, so the recipes are growing strong within the family. My son and daughter already know a little bit, so it's fourth generation in the business.
What inspired you to start the business?
We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring a little bit of the Brazilian culture to New Zealand through food.
We're the first - and the only - company to manufacture and sell Brazilian products to supermarkets and restaurants in the country. We started developing the products three years ago.
How big is your team and where in Auckland are you based?
We have six employees, plus Barbara and myself. Our factory is based in Rosedale in Albany, and then we have a little shop on Auckland's Queen Street.
How big is your product range and who do you sell it to?
We have four products - the Brazilian chicken delight, and then cheese breads which come in the three flavours of original, bacon and garlic.
Scholten: All of our products have their own niche in the market as appetisers.
We mainly sell our savouries to restaurants - they're often brought to serve guests as a starter before mains. Other people buy the products to take home, mostly to entertain. Our cheese bread is gluten free which also attracts those with cealiac disease, and those who choose to be gluten-free as well.
What is your main focus at present?
Menoita: We have a few recipes from my mother's heart, we like to say, that will be developed in months to come. Right now, we are focusing very much on preparing ourselves for our first export to Australia.
I'm going to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in February to tend to that and we're also going to participate in the Fine Foods Show in Sydney this year.
You're set to launch a food truck, what offering will that bring?
We're bringing over a very romantic food truck, a Volkswagen Combi 1967, from Brazil. We bought the raw cart and have been building everything in and onto it for months now - it's almost ready to be shipped over.
It's a very old style truck and will be presented in two colours, reflecting our brand.
We thought of having a food truck which could tell our story and represent it as well. The food truck will offer our chicken delights, cheese breads, and Brazilian drinks such as guarana and Brazilian coffee.
What are the long term plans for Durello?
Australia is going to be the first step in the international market, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. After Australia we want to expand into the Asian markets; Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and Japan. We currently have interested clients in all of those countries so we just have to take one step at a time and consolidate Australia before moving on to others.
Without the drive that comes from passion, I don't think anything would have worked for us.
What is the best thing about your business?
It's the fact that after three years we can finally see people recognise our products, the brand, and they understand why we are doing what we do - the story we have to tell through the food, and the family bonds.
We love to give back to New Zealand, what it has given to us as immigrants.
Scholten: We arrived here from Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2008 with 10 suitcases, our four kids and started all over again. We started from zero - from scratch - and everything we have in this country we have had to work hard for.
We've been here nine years now.
How does Durello give back to the community?
We're very community-based so we often participate in fundraising events because we want to give back to the country that has given us so much.
We're one of the main sponsors for the [annual] Brazilian Day on January 28 and which gathers about 7000 people - it's a very nice cultural event with music, food and dance.
Three years ago a group of Brazilian mothers used to gather to sing and play with their kids - everything in Portuguese - and so when we started our Brazilian cheese bread we used to give it to them for the kids. The group grew so much that they decided to create a Brazilian Day festival with the support of local boards and the Council. As we started with them in the beginning they offered for us to be one of the main sponsors. This is now the third year we will sponsor the event.
What advice do you give to others thinking of starting a similar business?
The first thing is you have to have a passion for whatever it is that you're doing.
Without the drive that comes from passion, I don't think anything would have worked for us. There's no shortcut to success so you just have to work the long hours and make it happen.
In Brazil we like to say: 'Success only comes before work in the dictionary'.