Tongan food exports to be marketed by Turners in New Zealand

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Kulu ʻAnisi Bloomfield CEO for Tongaʻs Ministries of Customs and Revenue as well as Labour and Commerce.

A deal for Tonga to send food, fish and handicrafts direct to New Zealand suppliers was struck last week after a team of government officials from Tonga met with Turner New Zealand and other supplier officials in Auckland.

Tonga will export food crops such as taro, yams, breadfruits, cassava, kape, taro and pele leaves and fish direct to Turner.

The company, New Zealand’s biggest food and nutritional supplier, will sell them to their New Zealand markets.

This includes deals with other New Zealand suppliers to receive and sell Tongan body tuitui oil and handicrafts.

Turner was also willing to come to Tonga and run workshop for the Tongan exporters if needed.

The Tongan team was led by Ministry of Labour and Commerce CEO Kulu ‘Anisi Bloomfield and Head of Business Support and Facilitation Division Tevita Lautaha.

Bloomfield said the government had allocated funding for the project in its budget for the year 2017 – 2018.

Asked when would they start exporting, Bloomfield said the sooner the better, but they needed to call a meeting with the Tongan suppliers when they returned to Tonga.

The question of packaging and labelling was discussed during the meetings in Auckland.

Bloomfield said Tonga would send samples of its products to New Zealand suppliers for scientific tests to check their chemical content before sending them back for labelling and packaging.

The tests were important as they would give New Zealand importers opportunities to evaluate and give feedback on the Tongan products.

While the Tongan officials were in New Zealand they also talked to shipping agencies.

Bloomfield said this was part of the quality control and supply chain processes to make sure the products would arrive at the New Zealand markets.

They managed to obtain cheap freight fees from a shipping agency in New Zealand.

“The government is trying to put into practice a vision that has been with Tongan growers for many, many years,” Bloomfield said.

“Turner is willing to help Tonga and they advised us to just start small and build up our efforts as the project developed.

“They listed the food they needed, including taro and pele leaves.”

He said the government wanted to help get Tongan growers’ and handicraft makers’ products directly to the market.

He said the government was aware of the way Tongan growers and handicraft makers exported their products through Tongan middle men in overseas.

“That is good, but the middlemen mostly get more of the shares the Tongan exporters are supposed to received financially from the overseas markets,” Bloomfield said.

The  main points

  • A deal for Tonga to send food, fish and handicrafts direct to New Zealand suppliers was struck last week after a team of government officials from Tonga met with Turner New Zealand and other supplier officials in Auckland.
  • Tonga will export food crops such as taro, yams, manioke, kape, taro and pele leaves and fish direct to Turner.
  • The company, New Zealand’s biggest food and nutritional supplier, will sell them to their New Zealand markets.
  • The Tongan team was led by Ministry of Labour and Commerce CEO Kulu ‘Anisi Bloomfield and Head of Business Support and Facilitation Division Tevita Lautaha.

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