Beginning as an aid project over ten years ago, Heilala Vanilla established a vanilla plantation in partnership with a local family from the village of Utungake in Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga. The annual harvest of vanilla beans are brought back to New Zealand and crafted into a range of 100 percent pure vanilla products at the manufacturing base in Tauranga. The team spoke to CEO and co-founder of Heilala Vanilla, Jennifer Boggiss to find out more.
What is your current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“Our product range includes; Vanilla Beans, Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Paste, Vanilla Sugar, Vanilla syrup and Vanilla powder that we sell into retail, foodservice and food manufacturing sectors. Heilala Vanilla products are unique in that we manage the entire process from plantation to pantry so we are specialists in the entire vanilla process, growing, harvesting, curing, R&D, manufacturing, production and sales and marketing. Having full control ensures quality control and consistency. There are no artificial colours, flavours, fillers, caramels, or invert sugar syrups in any of our products which results in a pure vanilla flavour and aroma.”
What’s new with Heilala Vanilla?
“In the last couple of years, we have received increasing interest and ongoing requests for an alcohol free vanilla alternative from customers. The interest came from customers whom were wanting a pure vanilla flavour and aroma to use in applications where alcohol is an issue such as strict dietary requirements, halal and baby food. Our original range of vanilla products are all created through an alcohol extraction process so we worked with Massey University to develop our new Alcohol Free Pure Vanilla with seeds. The cold extraction process using glycerine results in a slightly sweet, aromatic pure vanilla. Using a high concentration of good quality vanilla beans as the base ensures it is a perfect replacement to traditional vanilla extract in baking and dessert applications.”
Future plans for the business?
“In New Zealand we are continuing to build the Heilala Vanilla brand in the retail, foodservice and food manufacturing sectors. We are experiencing strong growth in Australia after recently gaining acceptance into Woolworths Australia and we are launching into Coles later this year. We currently export to seven countries and are developing new sales channels within our retail market in the USA.”
Where are your products available?
“Our retail range of products is available at a large number of retail outlets including Farro Fresh, Moore Wilson, New World and Countdown Supermarkets nationally. Restaurants and cafes can purchase our larger sized products from their local foodservice distributor.”