Recognition on the menu for NZIBA finalists

25 New Zealand businesses, and in particular 8 food and beverage companies, have had an excellent start to the year following the announcement of the 2015 finalists for the coveted New Zealand International Business Awards.

25 New Zealand businesses, and in particular 8 food and beverage companies, have had an excellent start to the year following the announcement of the 2015 finalists for the coveted New Zealand International Business Awards.

Twenty five New Zealand businesses, and in particular eight food and beverage companies, have had an excellent start to the year following the announcement of the 2015 finalists for the coveted New Zealand International Business Awards.

The Awards, run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Strategic Partner ANZ, celebrate the passion, vision and new approaches that New Zealand businesses are taking to achieve international success.

From engineering and project management consultancy to experiential tourism photography, plus a strong group of food and beverage companies, this year’s list of finalists is one of the most diverse in the Awards history, cutting across multiple sectors and services.

Taking Maori values to the world

Three food and beverage companies seeing success are Sealord and Kono, both based in Nelson, and Taupo-based milk powder and UHT milk product manufacturer, Miraka. These companies are all contenders in the inaugural He kai kei aku ringa Award for Maori Excellence in Export, which recognises Maori business contribution to the New Zealand export economy – the approach, values and tikanga that underpin and uniquely define Maori business.

Developed in 2011, Kono NZ farms more than 500 hectares of land and sea, using these natural assets in a manner akin to the Maori values of its owners. These involve a high level of cultural integrity, and social and environmental responsibility.

The Kono vision is to create a legacy for the ages by achieving long-term sustainable excellence. Its high-quality products include seafood (mussels, oysters, lobster and paua), wine under the Tohu, Aronui and Kono brands, and apples, pears, kiwifruit, hops and fruit bars. These are exported to the United States, China, Asia, Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Likewise, Sealord is in the seafood business to create legacies, having provided the world with sustainable seafood for 53 years. Its commitment to sustainability stems from its unique ownership model, whereby 50 per cent of the company is owned by 57 iwi from across the country. As a result, Kaitiakitanga (guardianship of its resources and people) is central to the way Sealord operates.

Miraka has been exporting its milk powder and UHT milk products to 23 countries since it was established in 2011. But from its base in Taupo, the predominantly Maori -owned business integrates Maori customs and values like tikanga, kaitiakitanga, innovation and integrity – a point of difference that leaves a lasting impression on those who spend time with the Miraka whanau.

Consistent with its values, the Miraka factory uses steam from nearby geothermal steam fields to operate the plant. Water extracted from the milk is irrigated onto adjacent farms and solids waste is transferred and consumed on a nearby worm farm.

Innovation and collaboration

Further north in Auckland’s Onehunga, Compaq Sorting Equipment designs, manufactures and services postharvest solutions for the global produce industry in more than 40 countries.

Compac’s cornerstone product, the InVision system, uses digital cameras to rapidly and accurately sort produce by size, shape, colour and surface defects down to 1mm in size.

A finalist in the ANZ Best Business Operating Internationally – Over $50m category, Compaq reinvests a significant amount of turnover into research and development (R&D) and over the last two years has doubled the size of its R&D team. Innovation is vital to Compac’s success, and it places a strong emphasis on both in-house and collaborative R&D with universities, Crown Research Institutes and Callaghan Innovation.

Manuka Health, a finalist in the ANZ Best Business Operating Internationally ($10m-$50million) category, is a world leader in innovative, scientifically proven bioactive solutions for human health. The company has provided science-based evidence to distinguish itself from its competitors and in the last two years, its sales have almost doubled. Key to this success has been the establishment of a global brand, highly motivated distributors and the development of an integrated supply chain.

A golden opportunity

From fruit sorting to the fruit itself, Golden Bay Fruit is fully integrated from the orchard through to logistics services at pack-house and cool-storage level, to global marketing responsibilities for all the fruit it produces. The company exports and controls one million 18kg cartons of apples in its markets across the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Asia, India and the Middle East.

CEO Heath Wilkins says the business had to overcome a very dark time with low profitability and losses in the apple industry.

“What kept us on our path was a having long-term plan, and we didn’t deviate from it. Of course, you can’t blindly keep going; your plan needs to be robust and to be fully challenged by boards and advisors, and ours was.”

The plan has clearly paid off and Golden Bay Fruit is a finalist in the ANZ Best Business Operating Internationally ($10m-$50million) category.

A second helping

The New Zealand International Business Awards programme gives companies the opportunity to benchmark their performance, improve capability, raise their profile, tell a positive story to investors and boost staff morale. Proving just how valuable the Awards process is, 2015 sees the return of eight previous finalists, including Yealands Wine Group and Synlait Milk.

Founded in 2008, Yealands Wine Group has quickly grown to become New Zealand’s sixth largest wine exporter. The company has successfully launched more than 20 new brands to 80-plus countries and has a global reputation for sustainably producing quality wine.

Yealands’ large vineyard holdings (1500ha), highly efficient winery operation and close relationship with suppliers provides significant benefits in production costs, margin and a deep supply base and has also contributed to strong growth in international revenues.

Joining Yealands and Compaq in the ANZ Best Business Operating Internationally – over $50m category is Synlait Milk, a company focused on becoming a trusted supplier of choice to some of the world’s leading milk-based health and nutrition companies.

Since manufacturing began in 2008, Synlait Milk has become one of Canterbury’s fastest growing companies, processing around 550 million litres of milk a year, employing more than 250 staff, and collecting milk from approximately 161 Canterbury dairy farms.

Managing Director John Penno says it is important to have a clearly defined vision from the start to “provide focus and confidence as you experience the peaks and troughs of operating in international markets”.

Winners will be announced at a black tie ceremony on March 25 at Sky City in Auckland.