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New food captures Japanese market

Media Statement 31 March 2004

New food captures Japanese market

A New Zealand company is breaking into the Japanese market with a new food product that looks set to earn in excess of $1 million in its first year of export.

Christchurch-based Hi Tech Foods Ltd identified a niche in the Japanese market about two years ago for its new ‘fond de veaux’ sauce stock. But it has taken the company considerable money and research to achieve a flavour acceptable to Japanese taste buds.

It was only when the company received investment assistance from government research and development funding agency, Technology New Zealand, to bring in a specialist Japanese food consultant to help refine its recipe, that Hi Tech achieved success.

Fond de veaux is a sauce stock made from meat-based or chicken products which undergo extensive cooking to form a concentrated liquid. It is a quality product used by top chefs as a base for other sauces and the Hi Tech Foods product is in strong demand because it is authentic and natural.

International Business Manager, Scott Cozens, says the company’s Japanese customer wanted a “Rolls Royce” product and Hi Tech Foods has been successful in developing it. Japanese expert, Mr Kabashima, helped Hi Tech Foods develop the right flavour profiles and set up the new processing line required for commercial manufacture.

“The investment support allowed us to develop a base product which has opened the door for us to Japanese users. We couldn’t previously get to that stage because we just couldn’t get the taste right and it was rejected by potential Japanese customers,” he says.

Hi Tech Foods is now commercialising the product and the first 10 tonne container of fond de veaux, which is frozen in 5kg vacuum packs, has already been sent to Japan.

Mr Cozens says order forecasts are strong and the new fond de veaux product will be further developed to create other sauce bases that, within five years, could grow the Hi Tech Food business by between $10 million and $12 million.

“We have been approaching other key customers in Japan to interest them in the base product. They’ve sent their own food technicians to work with us to refine our product to what they want,” he says.

Hi Tech Food’s main market focus has always been Japan, and the company has a strong Japanese culture. The company is a subsidiary of the Jatra Group, whose founder, Graham Kitson, spent several years lecturing economics at Japanese universities.

The company makes significant investment into R & D and Mr Cozens says this product gives it a real competitive advantage.

Technology New Zealand contributed approximately $70,000 through its Technology for Industry (TIF) scheme and Mr Cozens says without that assistance the successful fond de veaux recipe would not have been developed so quickly.

“Not only has it given us a new base range but we’re extending our capabilities and it gives us an alternative revenue stream from our other core products,” he says.

“We are looking to develop other opportunities adding value to natural NZ resources. The big advantage we have is that Japan sees NZ as a source of quality raw materials, providing traceability and has good safety record.”

Technology New Zealand is part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and invests in research and development projects which result in new products, processes or services.


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