Caption: Workers of Bula Island Food Supplies cleaning taro for export. Photo: SUPPLIED.
Bula Island Food Supplies Ltd, a local agribusiness enterprise operating out of Nadi, has completed its first consignment of around 13 tonnes of frozen vegetables, fruits, root crops and fish for the USA market last month.
Five similar shipments are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The business, which began operation in 1986, has until recently been exporting local fruits, vegetables and root crops only to Australia. Since 2012, however, the company has been receiving assistance from the Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project, which has enabled it to expand its export operation. This project is part of a European Union (EU)-funded initiative implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
A total of 42 Pacific enterprises are supported by the project, which is aimed at strengthening the export capacity of Pacific countries in the agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and livestock sectors.
Entering into the USA market has been described as a major milestone for Bula Island Food Supplies.
We are very happy that our Fiji-grown products have begun to capture a small share in the vast and expanding USA market. Our company makes sure that we export only the best quality products to suit the taste of our consumers,’ said Narayan Sami Naidu, Managing Director of the company.
He says that the assistance provided by the EU through the IACT project has contributed immensely to the success of the company. It included assistance towards Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, marketing, strategic and inclusive business planning, machinery and equipment, as well as technical production support.
This assistance has helped boost the company’s annual export volume from 457 tonnes to around 720 tonnes within two years.
‘We now have an export processing centre that is fully HACCP compliant with state-of-the-art facilities operated by a well-trained and dedicated workforce and management,’ said Khushboo Sharma, the company’s General Manager.
With this new expansion, Sharma says that jobs at the company, as well as the number of supply farm clusters, are likely to increase. Around 120 farmers in the Western Division of Fiji currently supply their produce to Bula Island Food Supplies.
IACT project Team Leader, Samu Turagacati, explained that the penetration into the US market will help Bula Islands Food Supplies improve its economy of scale, and may even be an opportunity for the company to look into further diversifying and value-adding its products, depending on consumer demands.
He said that the IACT project not only helps enterprises to participate in Pacific regional trade but also to focus on international markets such as Asia, Europe, USA, and the Middle East.
He further added that the IACT project works with aligned organisations to explore potential opportunities in these export destinations.
While the penetration of Pacific products into bigger markets is encouraging, Turagacati advised that there is a need to maintain quality and consistent supply, and to manage production and marketing costs.
The additional foreign exchange earned by Bula Island Food Supplies from exporting overseas will be re-invested into the business to improve its packaging of frozen products.
The company won the Medium Exporter of the Year award in 2012.
For more information about Bula Island Food Supplies, please visit: http://www.bulaislandfood.com/