Fiji Kava hopes to make inroads into the Chinese market with the signing of an exclusive distribution contract with Pumate Shanghai, which seeks to generate $8 million in revenue within its first three years.
The contract has one year extension clauses and will see Pumate trade Fiji Kava’s product range-which includes tablets, instant powder mixes and flavoured powder shots, within China and via digital stores.
“This agreement is one of the most material commercial deals in Fiji Kava’s history which creates a major new opportunity for the company to enter China’s vitamin and supplements market, the second largest in the world and estimated at RMB 149 billion ($30 billion),” Fiji Kava chairman Dr Andrew Kelly said.
Pumate distributes other Australian brands, including nutritional supplements, into China. Fiji Kava is listed on the Australian stock exchange.
“The agreement has been structured in a way that diversifies our revenue streams in China via co-development possibilities with manufacturers of vitamins and supplements in China, and sales of Fiji Kava’s existing product ranges through cross-border e-commerce marketplaces and retail partners,” said Fiji Kava non-executive director Nicholas Simms.
“The agreement has been structured in a way that diversifies our revenue streams in China via co-development possibilities with manufacturers of vitamins and supplements in China and sales of Fiji Kava’s existing product ranges through cross-border eCommerce marketplaces and retail partners.”
“There is a growing Chinese investment in the Pacific, with the two regions sharing strong ties and Fiji a signatory to China’s Belt and Road initiative. This unique partnership enables us to capture the growing demand for kava in China, as part of our offering as a vertically integrated primary producer and processor of Fijian noble kava.”
Fiji Kava has previously signed deals with Blackmores-owned Bioceuticals, Coles Supermarkets in Australia, Green Cross Pharmacy in New Zealand, and Amazon in the US. It says the Chinese vitamin and supplement market is worth an estimated A$30billion.
Sitting in the hot sun, Losana does not seem to mind the humidity and the busy carpark beside her as she stacks heaps of wild lemons and cucumbers.
What do you do when it rains, we ask her.
"Au dau vakaruru ikea (I seek shelter there)," she replies, pointing to the overhang of the shop behind her.
She prefers selling her produce outside the Sigatoka Market because she says that since the lockdown, customers had been hard to come by inside the market, where she used to be based.
"I pay the same rate of $1.10 to sell outside, but at least I have a better chance of meeting customers here."
Losana is selling wild lemons, cucumbers and taro leaves today.
"I don't mind paying the vendor fee because with one heap of this (wild lemons), I should be able to take care of it."
You can tell she is a veteran vendor, and she tells me that she's been selling here in Sigatoka since her son was a toddler.
Now her son has a family of his own.
Losana lives in Draiba village, about an hour's drive up the Sigatoka Valley, dubbed Fiji's salad bowl as it is Fiji's leading supplier of vegetables.
She doesn’t mind the bus travel each day to the market, as the money she earns help her look after her family.
From the masi (tapa) making island of Vatulele is Anareta Ketenilagi, pictured here at her stall inside Sigatoka's main food market.
She specialises in masi costumes for brides and bridegrooms.
"Before the pandemic, I usually consult for resorts and hotels in the Coral Coast in providing masi costumes for couples who prefer traditional Fijian dress," says Anareta.
"But with hotels closed and workers sent home, I too have to find new sources of income, which is why I have leased a stall here in the Sigatoka Market."
When the tourist bridal market dried up, Anareta's income dried up too.
More than 150,000 people are employed, either directly or indirectly like Anareta, in Fiji’s tourism industry says the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association. They include well-publicised workforces, like those laid off from Fiji Airways and hotels and resorts, but also alongside florists, farmers, drivers, event coordinators, musicians and dancers, the list goes on.
Sales are very slow now, and Anareta says because she understands the economic difficulties many people are going through, she has been offering deep discounts for her wares. Whatever she makes goes to her rent and for putting meals on the table in Olosara, a suburb of Sigatoka, where she lives with her children and grandchildren.
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