Building premium products is all the rage in the agri-business game with major companies rapidly expanding their profiles in the fast-moving consumer goods and ingredients business to drive more revenue.
Away from the big end of town there's some interesting innovations happening.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past three weeks - chances are you've at some point come across Whittaker's chocolate milk - created in conjunction with artisan food maker Lewis Road Creamery.
The product has been a social media sensation - blowing up Facebook and quickly spreading across other platforms. Supermarkets are selling out minutes after receiving stock, with some even reporting queues while awaiting delivery.
The idea isn't really an original one, even in the dairy space. Fonterra produce Pineapple Lumps flavoured milk in partnership with Kraft - but the public frenzy doesn't come close to comparing. Shortages have seen those lucky enough to get their hands on Whittaker's chocolate milk selling their products for big premiums online.
From the outset, the marketing for the new chocolate milk has been completely on point. That should come as little surprise with Peter Cullinane - former Chief Operating Officer of Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide and co-founder of Antipodes Water - at the helm of Lewis Road which formed a partnership with Whittaker's to develop the new brand.
Cullinane said that from the outset, it was clear what their point of difference would be. "When you walk down the dairy aisle and you look at the flavoured milks, they're brightly coloured, they look like confectionary really rather than quality products.
"Anything we do should first and foremost be about the product itself. It should be a brilliant product and then it needs to be packaged and branded effectively, but at it's heart it's about having a brilliant product."
Much like Whittaker's does with its chocolate, Lewis Road Creamery has made the product and the ingredients the star of the show. The branding and packaging is simple yet elegant. The chocolate milk is a premium product and it looks like one. But it has been social media savvy driving demand.
When done effectively social media campaigns can provide enormous exposure for a relatively modest expense. Many food businesses have tried but few really hit the nail on the head. It's still somewhat of an unknown territory and those that have succeeded seem to be the result of either perfect planning or perfect products, combined with a bit of dumb luck.
Last year it was the croissant-donut hybrid dubbed the cronut which became an overnight global sensation on social media. Whittaker's formed a partnership earlier this year with Griffins to manufacture 100's & 1000's' biscuit flavoured chocolate crossover proved that potential existed in New Zealand.
A relatively minor campaign by Lewis Road generated enormous hype for their chocolate milk long before the slow initial rollout. Simple promotion with an engaged and growing social media audience resulted in demand 30 times higher than initially anticipated.
The success has led to Lewis Road further toning down its marketing efforts and planning investment in plant and equipment to try to bridge the ever-increasing gap between supply and demand.
Cullinane is confident that supply can still be increased significantly before demand reaches a plateau. He says the success "demonstrates that quality is in demand and quality sells".
While bit players and artisan producers in this country tend to be focused on producing beautiful products - the approach taken by Lewis Road lays a blueprint of sorts for others to follow.
To really gain traction at the premium end of the market, the quality has to be evident across the board - from packaging and branding to the product itself. It's a truly holistic approach, but it shows that success doesn't require producers to reinvent the wheel or cash up an enormous marketing budget.
Instead it seems, genuine quality with some social media savvy is the new number 8 wire approach for small players at the premium end of town.
• Fran O'Sullivan is a business columnist for the NZ Herald and Alexander Speirs (right) is a business journalist for Herald Business Reports.