Hamilton company finds butter niche


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Butter might have been around for a long time but Canary Enterprises has come up with a whole range of new ways to package and sell it.

The Hamilton-based butter food product innovator is one of the finalists in this year’s New Zealand International Business awards in the between $10 million and $50m category.

It manufactures portioned butter medallions for the hotel, commercial and catering industry, supplying embossed versions to airlines such as Air New Zealand, Emirates, Qantas, Korean Air and many others.

Expanding the portion controlled product concept out from basic butter, it now also makes ‘bullets’ and ‘rosettes’ of food sauces, fillings and garnishes such as apricot cream cheese, porcini mushroom and truffle butter or Italian tomato sauce.

From its factory in Hamilton, Canary portioned foodstuffs are exported as far afield as Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands and Australia

Of the company’s $15m revenue last year, $11m of it came from exports. Being a finalist in the awards reinforced the investment NZTE had invested in it, Canary director David Bartosh said.

”We’ve been in business for 11 years, and over that time NZTE have helped us in a number of ways. There have been various funding packages they’ve had that have assisted us, first to get established and then to gain information and access to various markets that we’ve entered,” Bartosh said.

”They’ve provided a lot of research for us, and through the account management structure they have in place at the moment they’ve proactively been working with us to help us to set and achieve our strategic goals.”

Recently, Canary began selling its product to Japanese customers, a market that like China and India it sees further opportunities in. In the year ahead it will concentrate on expanding its presence and consolidating its activities there.

”There are at least two new markets we’ll be investing quite a bit of time into, to look for opportunities. I think with the culinary range as well we’ll be really focusing on how we can grow sales in that range.”

The biggest challenge the company has faced so far was managing its growth, having experienced large year on year growth. When it built its first factory in 2001 it underestimated how many tonnes of product it would have demand for, and needed to build another in 2007 with new production lines.

Canary prioritises work/life balance for its employees and is committed to avoiding night shift. It wants to retain quality staff long term that have experience in dairy food production but may have been forced with previous employers to work antisocial shifts around the clock.

Bartosh says New Zealand-based dairy products are highly regarded worldwide.

On the international market, its New Zealand dairy-based products are highly regarded.

”In saying that we still need to be cost competitive with our competitors and you still have to have the best price, but certainly coming from New Zealand by association we get that positive impact on our customers,” Bartosh said. 

– © Fairfax NZ News

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