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Greenshell Mussels Win Top NZ Organic Awards

Free Range Eggs And Greenshell Mussels Win Top NZ Organic Awards For 2004

Successfully selling organic free range eggs into premium markets in the United States and Hong Kong has seen the Free Range Egg Company of New Zealand (FRENZS) win the 2004 Organic Exporter of the Year Award.

The awards are run by the industry association Organic Products Exporters of New Zealand Inc (OPENZ), with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise as principal sponsor. New Zealand’s organic exports are worth close to $80 million annually, with demand for organic product growing steadily worldwide, says OPENZ Executive Director, Jon Manhire.

While FRENZS has been named overall winner, Nelson seafood company Sealord has scooped the award for Export Product of the Year for its organic Greenshell Mussels.

Auckland-based FRENZS was formed in 1988 after founding partner Graeme Carrie sampled an egg in the United States while on a sales trip to market New Zealand wetsuits. “I realised the fresh, wholesome eggs being laid by the chickens in my back yard were much better than what I’d seen in the States.”

Graeme Carrie and partner Rob Darby ran successful trials which proved that naturally healthy hens could be economically farmed outside, 365 days of the year, without artificial intervention.

Their farming knowledge was combined with innovative production, packaging and marketing to develop a strong base for their organic eggs throughout New Zealand and to establish a niche market in California. In the United States FRENZS eggs are sold in natural food and health stores with demand now also growing from more traditional supermarkets and gourmet consumers. For example the Beverley Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard buys their organic New Zealand eggs to feed the celebrities who frequent its restaurants.

Since 1991 FRENZS has air freighted 10 million eggs to the United States and Hong Kong, which is emerging as another strong export market.

A total of 18 franchised farms produce the organic eggs and the company grows and harvests around 200 hectares of G.E. free organic maize in Gisborne and Waikato as a menu for the birds.

Graeme Carrie says winning the organic exporter of the year award means a lot to the company.

“We have had huge hurdles to overcome. It’s tough to start a company and learn to export and becoming organic adds an even greater challenge.”

Michael Fountaine, NZTE Senior Client Manager - Food and Beverage, and one of this year’s award judges, says FRENZS’ success comes from staying focused on its vision of selling into niche markets.

“The company developed a smart franchise model to produce eggs in a micro-climate (in the Pukekohe area), using unique technology to supply niche markets overseas. FRENZS has never taken its eye off the ball. The company is proof that the key to success is to do a few things very very well, rather than spreading limited resources over a wide area.”

Nelson-based Sealord is the largest processor and marketer of New Zealand Greenshell Mussels and its organic product, which is a world first, is currently attracting premium prices in the United Kingdom. The organic mussels, which are the fruit of years of investment in scientific research, attracted strong interest at the recent BioFach International Organic Trade Fair in Germany.

Michael Fountaine says Sealord is also reaping the benefits of seeing opportunities in a niche market.

“Its organic product is successfully leveraging off the reputation already established by the company for exporting top quality, fresh fish from the pristine waters around New Zealand.”

Jon Manhire says the quality of entries in the awards this year, which are held bi-annually, was very high.

“As well as celebrating the achievements of individual companies, the awards are a good way of demonstrating the pathways successful exporters have followed and sharing best practise.”

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