16 Oct 2013

Niuean-inspired gin business eyes up Asian market

5:27 pm on 16 October 2013

A family gin business with links to Niue is looking to break into the Asian market after promoting its Niuean-inspired gin in the South Pacific.

The company, Colonial Commodities Ltd, says Vaione Premium Pacific is the first gin with South Pacific origins.

The company's founder, John Sexton, is a New Zealander of Niuean descent, who first started distilling the gin in his garage in Auckland.

Mr Sexton's son, Anthony Sexton, is the company's general manager and says the gin is currently sold in New Zealand and several Pacific Islands.

He told Amelia Langford about the company's history and plans for the future.

ANTHONY SEXTON: It is a family business. My father obviously started running it, and we've got two other people from the family who are helping out in various capacities. But it's definitely important for us to have the family heritage and story in there. It made sense to use that heritage to produce or create a brand around the Pacific islands associated with the South Pacific. And, of course, New Zealand is also probably the largest melting pot of Pacific nations in the world, so New Zealand was a logical place to produce it. We are selling it through Niue, obviously. It's available in Duty Free there and also through a number of the restaurants and hotels and things there. It's also available in Vanuatu in Duty Free and also in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

AMELIA LANGFORD: And the company is now looking at targeting the markets in Asia?

AS: Yes. We did a trade show in September and we've also got a number of contacts that we're working through at the moment. So there's some good opportunities there, it's just a matter of converting it. I suppose one of those things, selling the mystique of the Pacific into Asia, it's a point of difference which a lot of products don't have.

AL: And how could this put Niue on the map?

AS: Well, actually we use Niue in some of the marketing that we do, so on the bottle itself we use a tapa that have Niue on it and we're always looking at promoting the pacific, in particular Niue, as the origins and the heritage and roots of the product. So, yeah, it's going to definitely assist them in tourism and getting more people out there to see what a beautiful place it is.

Anthony Sexton says the company wanted to distil the gin in Niue but found the cost of freight too prohibitive.