FIJI is targetting the major supermarkets in Australia and New Zealand as the main growth area for two new government-backed products – sweets made out of pineapple and pawpaw.
The south Pacific island – lying just over 1,000 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island – has developed the delights at its agriculture research station.
Dr Mahendra Reddy, Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, said farmers would no longer have to flood the market with pineapple and pawpaw as the Agriculture Marketing Authority would take care of the purchasing of the produce.
He also predicted that the dried fruits and sweet stuffs currently imported into local supermarkets would also be replaced with the home-produced goods.
“In this way, we can grow the market if we create new products,” he said.
“If you don’t create new products, if you continue to push commodities, the market will be flooded,” he said.
Dr Reddy went on: “We are mindful of agriculture expanding at a commercial level, we do not want the market to be flooded. For that, we have to make a transition, from commodity to product.
“Commodities can be directly consumed. There is a limit to the size of commodities that can be consumed. There is a limit to the amount of dalo or cassava that can be consumed.”
The minister cited as examples of new products the conversion of bongo chillies into chilli sauce, or cassava to cassava fries that the likes of McDonald’s or Burger King could utilise.
“One of the problems of agriculture commodities is its perishable nature. We cannot keep it for long,” said Dr Reddy. “However, if you value add it and process it – we can increase the shelf life. Perishability will not be an issue.”
Fiji needed to break into new markets, he said, to ensure sustainability of its product development – with the major supermarkets in Australia and New Zealand the obvious way to go.
“We need to develop products out of these commodities and sell it out of Woolworths and Coles; they are the mainstream supermarkets, where every Australian and New Zealander is buying from. That’s the market we should target,” said the minister.
“We cannot limit ourselves from selling in these Fiji shops, Samoan shops in Australia and New Zealand. That’s not a full market.
“In doing so, ordinary New Zealanders and Australians will come and buy our cassava fries, chillie sauce, etc.”