A locally value added Kava product which is produced by a local entrepreneur, South Pacific Elixirs Company called Taki Mai has been marketed through the major supermarket chain in the United States of America (US).
One of the main brands is produced by South Pacific Elixirs Company in Levuka Fiji owned by Mr Zane Yoshida. Taki Mai is the unique use of Fijian kava, with a goal of capturing the US and international market.
The Ministry of Agriculture delegation that was recently in the US, visited the Whole Foods Market in Scottsdale, Arizona where the product is sold.
The product Taki Mai is sold as a sports drinks for calm, soother and relaxation to the body.
According to Company President, Mr James Tonkin, many consumers in Northern America are aware of the product and they are building up sales over the years.
“The plan would be to steadily build consumer awareness of the product next year.
“Taki Mai products will be promoted in the major outlets through demo awareness to consumers and also in the Food shows in March 2016,” said Mr Tonkin.
Taki Mai is sold in more than 50 outlets around the US and these include pharmaceutical and departmental stores in the Pacific and Hawaii.
Mr Tonkin stated, “we are keen to increase our volume and push for the four (4) flavored Taki Mai to the market but our problem is always the supply of the two varieties we require from the farmer. These two varieties that have the kava lactones levels required for the special products.”
To ensure consistency in supply and quality of raw kava the company, South Pacific Elixirs is now working with 70 contracted farmers in Lovoni, Ovalau.
Mr Uraia Waibuta, acting Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and head of the delegation who recently visited the US said that the Ministry is collaborating with the company to make sure that all Kava farmers in Fiji are aware of this new market and to cultivate the two specific varieties needed for the production of this special product.
“Also the Ministry supports Kava farmers through existing funding from the Export Promotion Program. This together with the core national kava services including the development of specifications and standard, training and workshop for the farmers, a national authentication service for kava farmers and (where appropriate) uses national Pricing Schedule).
“What the delegation have witnessed and observed from this visit has confirmed that Kava is one of the potential commodities for Fiji and the market is huge. We have not yet tapped into Australia and New Zealand with this product and then now you have Europe that just recently reopened its market.”
Mr Waibuta admitted that the Ministry and necessary stakeholders needed to reorganize better and ensure that we can provide what the market requires.
“Surely, the Ministry will mobilize resource towards this next year,” he said.