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Pastry Rises To New Export Potential

* Pastry maker seeks research muscle to find clues to Japanese palates
* Potential export order to fuel expansion
* Technology NZ 'TechNet' helps bring R&D experts together to help

For most companies, a big contract is a lifeline, but an order for more than six times its annual output has left a small Palmerston North company reeling.

Chances are, if you’ve snacked on a pastry at morning tea from the local lunch bar or small bakery, you’re consuming pastry made by Golden Crust Pastry. The 16-year-old company has been making a very nice living from supplying pastry to small bakeries, coffee bars and lunch outlets; so much so that they have a leadership position with 75% of the local market.

Satisfying the market requires an output of around 650 tonnes a year; easily manageable from its existing space and 11 staff. But a potential order from Japan has catapulted the company onto a fast track that draws in research expertise drawn in from Massey University and collaboration with independent experts to find answers.

Guy Field, Golden Crust manager explains: “We had an enquiry to supply nearly 4,000 tonnes of pastry to Japan. It’s quite mind-boggling when you think of the logistics; equivalent to around 260 container loads. However, it fits with our planning, which is to expand through reaching niche export markets.”

However, what suits the New Zealand palate doesn’t suit the Japanese, and Golden Crust’s standard pastry was not what they wanted in terms of the flavour profile. Japanese requirements are quite specific and to get that taste the company needed to find out how various types of butter would perform.

Technology New Zealand, administered by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, assisted the company by providing the link between the company and food experts from Massey University, with funding for the initial research under the TechNet programme. This is New Zealand’s first ‘virtual institution’, set up to provide research know-how to businesses.

‘TechNet’ comprises a group of scientists, technologists and engineers from research organisations who are available to answer questions and provide advice to small and medium sized businesses operating in New Zealand. This means businesses can directly contract a researcher with appropriate expertise, with Technology New Zealand funding a limited period of consultancy (usually involving one or two days’ work).

“It allowed us access to scientific experts in the food industry and some assistance with the costs associated in overcoming this particular technical problems,” says Mr Field. “The Japanese have indicated they are very keen to get the pastry from us and we’re well down the track with the research that will help us get there. The key to the whole exercise is getting the right flavour from the butter and that’s where we’re concentrating our efforts. “

Mr Field is confident that a combination of internationally-regarded food scientists, his company’s capabilities and New Zealand butter will see the mouthsome morsels on Japanese shop counters in record time.


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