Flavours blend as East meets West in sorbet
Kiwi exporter finds niche in Singapore, writes Anuja Nadkarni.
Wellington-based Carrello del Gelato has established itself in the Singapore market through a local high-end supermarket.
Founder and director of the business Nathan Meyer said his sorbet hit Cold Storage supermarket’s shelves last year coinciding with the chain’s annual New Zealand week product showcase. This was the perfect promotional launch for the brand.
Singapore is Carrello del Gelato’s only export market. Meyer said that although Australia was the first step, it proved too competitive.
Instead, he looked to the next accessible market in the region, Singapore. He said the country was ideal because of its large expat community and strong mix of Eastern and Western cultural influence.
Singapore’s young and growing middle class, with increasing disposable income, created an opportunity for the Kiwi business to sell its product as a premium brand.
‘‘It’s quite a sophisticated market. They’re used to Western products and it’s also compact, logistically that’s good for frozen products,’’ Meyer said.
‘‘But the market is a good trial. It might not be the biggest market, but it’s a really good place to see the challenges and the difficulties you’re going to have exporting to that region.’’
Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in southeast Asia, with the middle class earning 17 per cent more than the rest of the region.
Meyer said another bonus was the promotion through the supermarket chain’s annual New Zealand week, where it displayed products from more than 50 brands.
Sales are up 30 per cent since the last week in May. The company has had six shipments since it began exporting, a new order every three months.
But having to air-freight the products to Singapore with dry ice has been a large expense and Meyer was hoping to secure container shipping soon.
Due to restrictions on dairy products, Carrello del Gelato has been exporting only its sorbet range of lemon, feijoa, wild berry and mango.
Meyer said feijoa was quite the hit during the supermarket’s New Zealand week despite only a few people knowing what it was.
He is also working on creating custom flavours for the Singapore market, including durian and avocado.
‘‘They have other popular icecream flavours like corn, that aren’t that common in European countries.’’
The most important step in the export process was securing the right distributors.
‘‘Distributors can make or break you. Supermarkets were a good starting point. What you’re looking for is a distributor that doesn’t have too many products. If your distributor has 500 products you’re going to get lost in their catalogue.’’
Meyer said the ultimate Asian market was China, but because of its scale, Hong Kong would be the next export goal for his business.