“That’s what we’re about - creating something unique and truly celebrating individuality. We want to bring joy to people’s lives with a breakfast that’s worth waking up for.”
"We are staunchly Kiwi and have products that reflect that.” - Baragwanath
From cereal to soda pop, New Zealand is building a global reputation for premium comestibles.
Food and beverage is big business for New Zealand; exports are worth $NZ29 billion and account for 43 per cent of total exports.
When it comes to emerging opportunities, Blue Frog Breakfast and Wellington’s Six Barrel Soda – made from natural ingredients and organic sugar cane - are right in the sweet spot.
They are among parts of the industry highlighted as trending upwards in the recently released Emerging Growth Opportunities in New Zealand Food & Beverage Report.
Cherries, chocolate bars, infant formula, honey, dog and cat food, chilled salmon, breakfast cereal and muesli bars and flavoured beverages were the best-performing categories in the report, all gaining a significant price premium over the world price.
Honey for example achieving 707 per cent over the world price, breakfast cereal achieves 140 per cent more and beverages 103 per cent more.
Authored by research consulting company Coriolis, director Tim Morris said the report showed the changing face of the food and beverage industry.
“New Zealand’s food industry is getting more and more complex and that is a good thing. That is how you add value.”
In 2015, Blue Frog’s Braragwanath set out to create the world’s best tasting and most nutritious breakfast cereal.
“We want to create memories and those moments of joy. Moments that make you go ‘Wow! I just had the most amazing breakfast!’ It’s an audacious goal, but we’re on our way to making that happen,” he says.
Three years into their crusade to take breakfast beyond - well, breakfast - that audacious goal is paying off.
Blue Frog is New Zealand’s most highly awarded breakfast brand and creating world first product innovations.
“We made the conscious decision to really focus on what matters. For us that’s incredible flavour, colour and texture, and using the best ingredients out there.
“We’re doing things our way, all the while forming collaborative relationships with likeminded companies,” says Baragwanath.
After first testing their product at a farmers market in 2015, Blue Frog quickly launched a range of cereals, selling them through specialty and health food stores before entering the New World supermarket chain in 2016.
Baragwanath says they started sending small amounts to Singapore last year. “This month we are sending Blue Frog to Hong Kong and in the next few weeks to Australia as well.”
While there is still a huge amount to do in New Zealand, Baragwanath says now is a good time to dip a toe into international markets and start to understand what consumers are looking for.
“Amazon is another one we are looking at. Our product is perfectly designed for e-commerce, being light and easily shipped with a good shelf life.”
Blue Frog saw a big opportunity with the emerging demand for gluten and grain-free alternatives. Their products are all vegan, use only natural and organic ingredients, with various gluten free and paleo options.
Blue Frog is also a proud supporter of other local New Zealand producers. “We are staunchly Kiwi and have products that reflect that,” Baragwanath explains.
“Kaipara Kumara was our first cereal and we won a food award. Kumara is such distinctly Kiwi produce and works incredibly well in a cereal with mixed spices and maple syrup.
“We proudly source the oats for our Probiotic Porridge from Canterbury - they’re really the best you’d get anywhere in the world. Our Probiotic Porridge is actually a world first - and we’re stoked it’s made with those superb Canterbury oats.”
That authentic New Zealand story is playing an important role as they grow and enter new markets.
A recent trip to the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California – the world’s biggest whole foods conference – showed first-hand how well placed New Zealand is to make the most of what’s hot when it comes to consumer food trends.
Baragwanath explains that New Zealand is definitely well ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation in key topical areas, being gut health, convenience, wholefood and functional drinks.
“New Zealanders in general are highly innovative - we see the trends, we work smart and do things cost-effectively because we are small and we have to. We create world class and world leading products and are ready to share these with the world,” he says.
Taking it to the big guys
Six Barrel Soda Co is another company shaking up the local food and beverage scene. The syrups and bottled soda business was set up in 2012 by Joseph Slater and Mike Stewart.
Made with natural ingredients and sweetened with Fairtrade organic cane sugar, their products are a very different offering to big players like Coca Cola.
Slater credits much of their success to local support for independent businesses.
“There is a lot of support here from consumers for more boutique products; you don’t have to be a monster company to get any traction.”
But the journey hasn’t come without challenges.
Slater explains the difficult thing with the market in New Zealand is the size. “When you create a relatively niche product with a higher price point you are attracting quite a niche consumer. But certainly you can reach a decent level in New Zealand as a food and beverage producer if you play your cards right and find a good market.”
Slater says they found their market fairly quickly, sometimes struggling to meet demand.
“In some ways we’ve been lucky not to have insanely viral products, in the early days our growth was something we weren’t quite ready for but we managed to keep on top of it and now we are at a point where we are very scalable,” he says..
“We’ve just moved into a new production facility and use contract bottlers for our bottling, part of that was set up so that if opportunities come along that triple our business we can do that.”