25 Feb 2015

Indigenous food sales fall short

5:21 am on 25 February 2015

A Crown-run indigenous food brand has missed its takings target, earning four times less than it wanted.

The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute director, Karl Johnstone.

The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute director, Karl Johnstone. Photo: SUPPLED

The Storehouse turned in $83,549 - well below an annual budgeted forecast of $417,481.

The business is operated by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, which also trades as Te Puia, the large visitor attraction in Rotorua.

It sells products such as Muttonbird pate, seasoning and a range of vinaigrettes.

The institute's director Karl Johnstone said the value was in the cultural capital.

"The concept of The Storehouse was always for a business that fundamentally runs with a double bottom line. It was always about trying to find the cultural return alongside the commercial return."

Mr Johnstone said they had done a review and found the brand does better away from the mainstream stores, like the big supermarkets.

"We've been looking at niche channels which have prove to be more profitable and seem to resonate more with the likes of farmers' markets and some more niche retail channels."

"It's really about where the price point was for the product. We found that with supermarkets we were sitting a lot above the price point of other ranges. It's got a very small margin.

"So to get it to market the closer we can get it to selling at retail the better, which is why we've opted to look at other markets," he said.

"We're hoping we get to a point that we can realise the cultural objectives of the brand. And the cultural objectives have always been to eventually to create demand so that we can look at the way we harvest, manufacture and process indigenous ingredients"

Mr Johnstone said some of the range has been culled, such as its Aioli.

He said dealing with chilled products was complicated, and they were better off concentrating on other lines such as its popular seasoning.

The Institute is a Crown entity, created under the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Act 1963.

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