Grower-owned feijoa business, Zeijoa is establishing itself as New Zealand's number one supplier of the fruit.
The company's export season began in late-March, and the fruit has been sent to customers in Houston, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Kuala Lumpar.
The brand is in its fifth season, and it is a grower group that was formed to help promote "a unique fruit, with a unique flavour". There are currently four grower shareholders, located in four regions across the North Island; Matamata, Ngatea, Gisborne and Katikati.
"We have got a bit more coordination with the Zeijoa brand. Our board members bring a complimentary skill set to the table – especially having a professional brand to support professional growers producing NZ fveijoas to the highest international quality and food safety standards ," Director Todd Abrahams said. "It is up to us, and our supply base to show the way to the New Zealand grower, that this is working and that it is going to pay dividends. We always knew it was going to be a long-term approach."
The Zeijoa board has currently licensed four of NZ’s top fresh fruit exporters to market its brand in allocated territories. The aim being that these exporters can invest to develop specific markets - especially as these exporters have strengths with their respective business partners in different international locations.
NZ has a lot of "lifestyle growers", and Zeijoa is set up to assist the commercially minded growers, and is looking for more businesses to join.
"A lot of growers were doing their own thing in terms of growing and marketing," he said. "There are a lot of very passionate people trying to do great things, we could really see that it needed a brand behind it, to help the industry go forward with their innovations. The Zeijoa brand has subsequently gained a very large market share thanks to the focus from the Zeijoa grower partners."
He adds that New Zealand has developed a love affair with the fruit, which originated in South America. Production is also increasing in Australia and the U.S (California), while the fruit is also becoming popular in countries like Georgia and Azerbaijan, and Columbia is exporting into Europe.
Zeijoa is seeing an increase in demand through fast service businesses like fruit juice bars, not only for the taste but health benefits such as the vitamin C and antioxidant content.
"We are seeing a lot of uptake in the juice bar market," Mr Abrahams said. "Those guys are seeing the benefits of having a unique flavour in their smoothies, and health benefits of a sub-tropical fruit. It is predominantly the flavour that feijoa offers that make the perfect addition to a smoothie. We are actively targeting millennials or the younger generation through social media to take it up and adopt it as a ‘must have’ in their daily smoothie."
The Feijoa season typically runs from late March to late May, and Mr Abrahams says the domestic market continues to be the primary area in terms of supply volumes.
"The crop is pretty light on previous years," he said. "That was because of the pollination issues that happened in November and a dry summer, but other than that growing conditions have been pretty good. The domestic market is still our biggest market, but we fully understand that we need to develop export markets, where all of product is air freighted. One day we will be importing feijoas in our off-season, it's not out of the question."