What is expected to be the first of many shipments of tamarillo pulp has left Whangarei en route to a US-based food producer and distributor.
NZ Tamarillo Co-operative recently finalised a major deal with its produce destined to join Serious Foodie's product line as New Zealand Tamarillo Grill Sauce & Marinade and New Zealand Tamarillo Vinegar.
Serious Foodie sells online, through farmers' markets and is distributed into gourmet supermarkets and stores across the US and Canada. It specialises in high quality, unique ingredients for serious home cooks and chefs.
More shipments will follow with the pulp from tamarillos grown in the North by the five orchards in the NZ Tamarillo Co-operative processed into pulp and vinegar concentrate here and then sent to the US in bulk.
Serious Foodie introduced the marinade and vinegar at the Summer Fancy Food Show and the New York Trade Show in June and will start full production later this year.
Maungatapere based co-operative director/manager Robin Nitschke said he and other members of the Tamarillo Co-operative had been working on the deal for two and a half years and are delighted to have reached another milestone.
The co-operative was established three years ago to have more influence at the beginning of the supply chain by channelling all fruit through one merchant and to provide more choices to add value to the fruit at the end of the supply chain.
"So it is rewarding to finally achieve this milestone," Mr Nitschke said. "The importer tells me that feedback on our tamarillo products from customers in the States is very encouraging, with the potential for rapid growth into the specialty food sector".
Mr Nitschke said enthusiasm for tamarillo product overseas is gaining momentum.
"Our first pallet of vinaigrette and relish will shortly be shipped to a distributor in Brisbane for the food service, café and restaurant market, and last year samples were sent to Singapore and the Netherlands.
"And now negotiations are under way for our vinaigrette concentrate to be introduced to the European and Asian markets in a variety of consumer products."
Serious Foodie's president Jim Pachence first contacted the co-operative almost two years ago as he was interested in expanding his range of high-end specialty products and thought an exotic fruit like the tamarillo would appeal to his discerning customers.
Mr Nitschke said that after gaining recognition last year as finalists in the Artisan Food Awards, supermarkets, specialty food outlets and food service companies have been stocking the co-operative's products.