Quality In, Quality Out for Coconut Oil Producer
Owning the whole process is the key to producing good quality coconut oil for Kiwi entrepreneur Chris Wyllie of Tavulomo Coconut Processing Limited (Fiji).
Rusila Vere and Chris Wyllie.
“We’re the people at the factory door, we own the trees and we own the factory. We produce good oil” says Chris.
What distinguishes Tavulomo Coconut Processing Ltd factory from the competition is the high International production standards and methods used to produce high quality culinary coconut oil.
TCPL opened in October 2014. It is fitted out with modern equipment where workers are required to follow strict hygiene standards. There are 12 waged factory workers employed and 10-15 coconut collectors that are paid per coconut. They harvest around 800-1,200 coconuts daily for a single 8-9 hour shift.
Instead of using the fermentation method where warm water is added to grated flesh of the coconut and the oil left to separate overnight like most do, TCPL uses a cold press method. The grated coconut is dried on stainless steel drying tables to reach the correct moisture level before being pressed.
Chris has drawn on his previous 10 years of experience in forestry and marketing working with the Japanese International Trading Company.
We have created a system for traceability along with GMP & SSOP.
The coconuts are sourced from 4 of the coconut farms on Tavulomo Matiqali land plus various plantations in Bua and brought to the processing factory.
Growers have a farm ID and a supplier ID for identifying where the coconuts are sourced, and so yields and quality are traceable. Each batch of coconut oil also has a batch ID number relating to date of production and where it came from. A sample from each batch is then sent to a laboratory in NZ and tested for bacteria. With the use of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Sanitation Standard of Procedures (SSOP) the result is high-grade edible culinary oil.
The team at TCPL has great pride in seeing and tasting good quality oil. But they are highly critical of some practices and oils offered to them for samples of what’s on the market being poor and only good for the making of soap / lotions and cooking he says.
For Chris and his partner Rusila Vere Director of TCPL, the journey began about 2 years ago when a 3-pack sample of culinary flavoured coconut oils went to Japan.
But it took Chris time to secure a suitable location with a nearby plentiful supply of coconuts. They worked with Oxfam and visited a site in Tonga and then approached Women in Business Samoa. But the ideal spot turned out to be Rusila’s Grandfathers home of Tavulomo Village. After gaining permission from the Matagali or Village Chiefs in May 2013, they had the land with a good supply of coconuts. The business venture now has a big economic impact for villagers who may not have been in paid employment. The factory workers earn an hourly wage and the factory workers are trained in food production, making of soap and the manufacture of coconut flour and baking with it.
Chris is now working with Pacific Trade & Invest to help find buyers for his coconut oil in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Europe and Japan.
Pacific Islands Trade & Invest
Article Published on March 17th 2015
Pacific Islands Trade & Invest
Article Published on August 4th 2015
Testing Kiwi's Taste For Coconut Oil
Chris Wyllie and his partner Rusila Vere of Tavulomo Coconut Processing Ltd (Fiji) are re-educating Kiwis about the difference between cold pressed coconut oils.
The first step is to use the best fresh coconuts that are then processed into culinary grade raw cold pressed virgin coconut oil known as (VCO) at the custom built coconut oil factory in the Bua region of Vanua Levu, Fiji. The result is a smooth, tasting mildly flavoured, clear coconut oil.
The couple began a new marketing drive a few weeks ago at the Lautoka Market in Fiji where they say locals were impressed with the taste of the coconut oil.
They were off to a great start and are now in Auckland visiting local markets to gauge the response and determine the level of consumer demand. Slowly, they are hoping to re-educate consumers on the flavour of good coconut oil and eventually raise demand for their product.
There was great feedback from the Matakana Farmers Market, north of Auckland, with positives from visitors and the biggest response, they say from the Indian community who loved the taste and flavour of the product.
Next, a trip to the Auckland Food Show to see what was on offer. Although they chose not to exhibit, they went round and found several good leads and contacts and tried other similar coconut oils on show.
Last weekend, Pacific Periscope visited the Otara market where Mr Wyllie and Ms Vere had a stall. Again, they were very encouraged with the positive feedback and they also sold a few jars of coconut oil. One shopper who initially said she wasn’t keen on coconut oil and had no intention of buying the product, became a convert after a quick test. It tasted so much better than the one they get at home she told Mr Wyllie.
The couple now plan to try North Shore’s Takapuna market this weekend and possibly one other before heading back to home to Fiji.
Their biggest point of difference, says Mr Wyllie, is the smooth, clear, mild flavour of the coconut oil, something that consumers have so far agreed with.
Much of that comes from picking the best coconuts and processing them with clear traceability along each stage to maintain high quality standards. They can track daily production sheets to find the farm owners and suppliers’ name, the coconuts harvested or rejected, the production workers and their jobs, the batch numbers recording every 20 litre container or 270 ml glass jar produced. Samples from each 20 litre batch is then sent to Eurofins NZ Laboratory Services, an international testing company.
The village based factory also adds to the local economy by creating local jobs for villagers, some who had not been in paid employment before. As process workers, they are also fully trained to carefully follow handling standards and processing procedures.
The smooth, clear, mild flavour of the coconut oil is something that Kiwi consumers are starting to appreciate.
Pacific Islands Trade & Invest
Article Published on November 6th 2015
Pacific Foods Stir Interest At Europe Food Fair
This year’s Anuga Food Fair 2015, acknowledged as one of the world’s leading food fairs for the retail trade, food service and catering market, closed its doors on October 14 leaving Pacific Island exhibitors on the Pacific Islands Trade & Invest stand with a lot of follow-up work to do in the next few months.
With some 7,000 international exhibitors and an increase in trade visitors to more than 160,000 from 187 countries, Anuga 2015 broke its own records and clearly defined its position as the world’s leading international food and beverage trade fair.
The two yearly food fair is acknowledged as the world’s most important food and beverage trade fair.
There are 10 separate trade fairs on the one site – Anuga Fine Food, Anuga Frozen Food, Anuga Meat, Anuga Chilled and Fresh Food, Anuga Dairy, Anuga Bread, Bakery, Hot Beverages, Anuga Drinks, Anuga Organic, Anuga Food Service and Anuga RetailTec. The food fair also expanded along trend themes – what is in now and what is coming.
Robyn Ekstrom Trade Promotion Adviser for PT&I Geneva said, “I think we would all agree, Anuga 2015 was like nothing any of us have ever experienced before, even when compared it to its counterpart exhibition, SIAL Paris. With a virtually constant stream of high quality trade visitors over the entire five days, the opportunity to capture buyer, distributor and retailer interest was unparalleled.”
Speaking about Pacific Island participants at the fair she said, “I’m really thrilled, particularly that our Virgin Coconut Oil exporters and first time European co-exhibitors Tavulomo Coconut Processing (Fiji) and Amruqa (PNG) embraced the challenge, honed and targeted their marketing messages and really made the most of this opportunity.”
Chris Wyllie, CEO of Tavulomo said, “It was a great pleasure working on the PT&I Anuga booth and it has put Tavulomo Coconut Processing Ltd, Fiji, and the other Pacific Island exhibitors on the world map. This was a huge success.”
Ms Theresa Arek, Director of Amruqa said, “The five days at ANUGA were such an awesome experience. The opportunity to exhibit Pacific products to thousands of potential European and international buyers and customers was just wonderful. “
Both Tavulomo and Amruqa were assisted with funding for their participation by SPC – IACT, something that Ms Arek highlights. “This also shows what can be achieved through partnership and cooperation among our agencies and businesses. Market opportunity is out there and we in the Pacific are not in competition with each other.
“The exhibition of virgin coconut oil made in Papua New Guinea and Fiji was such that at the end of the day each product had its own story which highlighted its individual characteristics. Buyers and distributors from Germany and countries including Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, India and China were all interested in our VCO. This has shown that there are many different markets available.”
Building upon the successful commercial linkages established at SIAL 2014, companies returning as co-exhibitors in Anuga 2015 included Tonga’s Heilala Vanilla represented by their European distributor, Mr Kristoffer Drachmann. Mr Drachmann highlighted the value of a consistent Pacific Islands presence and the growing recognition of the PT&I brand in Europe. “We participated on the PT&I booth at SIAL 2014 in Paris and the PT&I umbrella brand was recognised by many Anuga visitors this year.”
“Being part of the PT&I booth is very attractive. It gets attention from the visitors, brings potential clients from one Pacific company to another and lets us share knowledge and experiences such as export practices, sales approaches and product developments.”
“We managed to get around 60 qualified leads from Europe and around 10 leads from countries and companies outside Europe. During Anuga, we got a handful of order inquiries (worth €25.000-30.000) and have arranged meetings with two distributors and one major ice cream manufacturer. This is a very satisfying outcome for us” said Mr Drachmann.
Anuga 2017 will take place for the 34th time in Cologne, Germany.
Pacific Island exporters at Anuga 2015, one of the world’s largest food and beverage shows.