We want to command a dominant export position, as NZ animal protein business have done in the past.
How do you see current business opportunities for your company?
This is new territory for us all but what the past two months have reaffirmed is that the need for locally manufactured food with environmental credentials is only growing.
Consumers have become more aware of what they are consuming over the lockdown and will be more receptive to the health and lifestyle benefits that plant based foods can offer.
As our hospitality channels rebuild, we will look to develop specific products and formats for that industry as well.
Our current capital raise via Snowball Effect will allow us to react more quickly to these developing trends to expand our current range, while also acquiring a plant based yoghurt business to round out our offering.
Do you export and to where?
We have tested the waters with exports into an independent Australian retailer chain of 100 stores and a successful two year pilot in a premium Singapore supermarket chain of 45 stores.
This work has shown where the opportunities are and the work that will be required to secure these regions for Little Island in the future.
After 10 years, is everything on track?
For a start-up “on track” is generally code for you tackled the last obstacle and are charging ahead. The secret to our success so far has been building production capacity and knowledge in what we do, from the ground up, and this is going well.
We have very good business fundamentals that now require further capital to accelerate growth.
Through our current capital raise we have a solid strategy to develop our people and products to become the dominant plant based business both in New Zealand and in our chosen export markets.
How easy is it to retain staff?
As a foundation member of Living Wage Aotearoa, we have always held the welfare of our staff as paramount. This along with our close-knit family environment have kept most staff with us for five years or more.
Have you been affected by the virus?
Covid-19 must have effected every business in some way. For us, it was a surge in supermarket demand pre-level 4, coupled with an immediate halt to all hospitality trade.
Revenues during lockdown decreased, as expected but our team was well supported and continued to manufacture as we traded throughout. We finished our financial year on March 31 and still met our targeted revenue growth thanks to great summer trading. We’re very thankful.
Future opportunities for your company – where are they?
Our strength will come from continuing to develop Little Island into a national leader in plant based dairy alternative products and further meeting the growing local demand before expanding our foot print into receptive export markets such as Asia.
There is certainly value in meeting more mainstream shoppers needs with products they will use every day like our milks and upcoming yoghurt ranges.
Why are dairy-free products all the rage?
What began as a want by consumers to remove dairy from their foods for allergen or lifestyle reasons, has grown into an acknowledgement that the innovation of plants and plant proteins will be a major factor in feeding the world’s population and reducing carbon emissions in the future.
This consumer realisation has jettisoned the concept of plant based foods into the mainstream. We’ve been here since before the word “plant based” was known and it’s this knowledge and expertise in the sector that has benefited us the most.
What are your plans for overseas expansion?
Our work for now is to continue building the business here in New Zealand and, in particular, develop a strong NZ source story to take Little Island offshore.