While many Kiwi business struggle to break into the Asian market, one exporter has continued to thrive for 20 years.
100% Pure New Zealand Honey (Pure NZ Honey) has a stronger presence in Asia than in the West.
Chief executive Sean Goodwin said despite minimal knowledge of Manuka honey, the Asian market really took to the product.
The cultural understanding and importance Asian consumers place on preventive medicine drove demand, he said, of markets where honey is a medicinal product more than a spread for toast.
“It’s been a fortuitous combination of the right type of market and interest for the business as well.”
But Goodwin said selling manuka honey in a global market had been difficult, particularly in China where low regulations meantother types of honey are passed of manuka, raising risks of distrust.
Last month the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said it was introducing pollen DNA-testing on honey exports in an effort to reassure overseas markets.
“Pushing for these new regulations will mean we can take our exports to the next level,” Goodwin said.
E-commerce is the most popular method of shopping for customers in Asia and payments are often made through mobile apps.
The honey company’s biggest markets are Japan, China and South Korea but it also exports to Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. Goodwin believes the next big market for New Zealand exporters to focus on is India.
“They have a quickly growing middle class, not by percentage but by number they have a lot of wealthy people and consumers there are very aspirational. They want products that other parts of the world have got so India is a market that is going to develop quickly for a range of different New Zealand products,” he said.
To survivein such a diverse and complex market, a long-term view was crucial for businesses considering expanding to Asia, Goodwin said.
“It’s easy to be opportunistic and chase value you risk being spread too thin. You cannot get caught up with producing high content and low value just because there is an opportunity right in front of you. We can’t feed the world, only a portion of it so it comes to picking and choosing and thinking about the future to reap the best return,” he said.
New Zealand’s branding of being pure, green and clean had also helped push the brand’s growth and sustained their presence in the region.
“We can be quite critical of ourselves of how clean and green we really are, for many other parts of the world it is a vast improvement on their own conditions.
“A lot of these consumers don’t know a great deal about New Zealand but what they do know is that purity and genuineness that’s really what makes us attractive,” Goodwin said.