Award-winning vanilla producer, Heilala Vanilla, has expanded its premises so it can boost production to meet global demand.
Heilala Vanilla was one of the first to move to Tauranga’s purpose-built horticulture innovation business hub, The Newnham Park Innovation Centre, when it opened in 2010. But it quickly outgrew its site.
“Our harvest has increased year on year,” says Jennifer. “That’s enabled us to develop a full range of gourmet vanilla products for the retail, food service and food manufacturing sectors, which we now export to over seven countries.”
Heilala grows its vanilla on the Tongan island of Vava’u along with a group of vanilla growers from Tonga, and ships the total annual harvest to its Te Puna-based facility. There it extracts the pure vanilla and turns it into a range of products, including paste, syrup and sugar. The new, larger facility means Heilala can boost production and develop new products.
“Our company has close ties with Tonga and was established on the principles of fair trade,” Jennifer says. “The people of Tonga are an integral part of our business, so having representatives attend our opening means they are with us every step of the way.”
Heilala Vanilla’s growth has brought the company many accolades, the most recent being last year’s prizes in the Deloitte Fast 50 Central Region, as fastest-growing exporter and fastest-growing manufacturer.
Heilala Vanilla has gone from harvesting 40kg in its first year to harvesting four tonnes in 2013. Its long-term goal is to make Tonga globally synonymous with premium vanilla.
“Over the past two years we have gained a number of new export markets and are well on our way to becoming a globally recognised premium vanilla brand,” says Jennifer.