28 Oct 2009

Vanilla company triples sales

7:13 am on 28 October 2009

A vanilla company in Tauranga has tripled sales this year, with exports to Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Its customers are chefs and high end food manufacturers.

Reunion Food was started as an aid project in Tonga by John Ross, his daughter Jennifer Boggiss and her husband Garth.

It is the first company to control the process from plantaton to pantry - growing, drying, manufacturing and marketing value-added products.

Ms Boggiss says research and development is an important part of the their plans and the company is now growing vanilla for the first time outside of the tropics, in the Bay of Plenty.

She says it's had an interesting outcome - as it tastes slightly "more chocolately" than the version from Tonga.

Ms Boggiss says it's a great point of difference, but they won't issue the domesic variety for a while yet until it's properly aged and matured.

Vanilla sells on average for about $300 per kg for top end restaurants, and Reunion is adding extracts and pastes to its product line.

They are used in desserts and seafood poultry applications

Ms Boggiss says vanilla is "an essential ingredient like underwear - you know if it's not there".

Britain is the next market the company hopes to crack.