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Dairy company taking NZ yoghurts to UK

Monday 16th May 2011

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A New Zealand dairy manufacturer, Epicurean Dairy Co. Ltd, says it is about to roll out its "gourmet" yoghurts in Britain, launching in 500 stores on June 28.

The yoghurts will be marketed under their NZ brand, The Collective, but will be made in Britain from local milk.

The Collective general manager Angus Allan, told NZPA, from Los Angeles, that the British launch will pit the NZ yoghurt against Twekkelo Farmhouse Yogurt buckets in a relatively new market niche.

"Twekkelo would be our main competitor, but that is made in Holland, and ours will be made in Britain- that's quite important," he said.

"We are exporting our intellectual property: we are going to base our sales on being New Zealand-designed and made in Britain". The company had not disclosed the third-party manufacturer it was using, he said.

He said the brand headed New Zealand sales of yoghurts in a chiller-cabinet category covering Greek, health and functional yoghurts by makers such as Piako, de Winkel, Puhoi, and Kapiti.

British stores already ordering the yoghurt include big supermarket chains such as Waitrose and its online retailer Ocado, and Sainsburys, as a well as a brand and buying group of independents, Nisa.

"We're starting with approximately 500 stores - it's more than all of the supermarkets in New Zealand," said Allan.

The UK rollout will be overseen by former directors of the Gu chocolate pudding company, Mike Hodgson and Amelia Macleod, who have formed a UK-based joint venture with The Collective's New Zealand owners, Allan and Ofer Shenhav.

Hodgson has predicted in Britain's The Grocer trade magazine that the NZ brand would stand out because it contained a double layer of fruit, visible through clear packaging, and was sweetened with honey instead of sugar.

Mr Allan said all the NZ flavours would be sold in Britain, but different supermarkets would take different flavours. They were expected to sell for 2.39 pounds (NZ$4.93) for 500g and 1.19 pounds (NZ$2.35) for 200g. New Zealanders eat an average of 7kg of yoghurt annually, compared with an average of over 11kg in Western Europe, and over 22kg in Holland.

He said that company would be looking at other products in made in New Zealand, such as the Middle Eastern cheese, halloumi , for a similar British launch, and success there was likely to be followed by expansion to markets in France and Germany.

"We will be looking at our cheese products and our cultured products - anything that we make in New Zealand - as potential exports," he said.

Allan was a chef, aged 26, when he launched the Naked Organics dips and spreads in 2002, selling the business in 2007, and later moved into gourmet yoghurts with former competitor Ofer Shenhav, a former owner of the Pitango organic soup and hummus company. The two men started their new company by buying the Canaan Cheese company in late 2009 and sold yoghurts, haloumi and other soft cheeses such as ricotta and mascarpone.

He said the company had 400 percent growth in the year to April 2011, and now employed 25 people.



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