Heilala Vanilla fills out innovation hub to meet global demand

Heilala Vanilla fills out innovation hub to meet global demand

Tonga's minister of agriculture forestry and food and Kiwi cabinet minister Tony Ryall are opening the second stage of vanilla producer Heilala Vanilla's site in Tauranga's Newnham Park Innovation Centre.

Heilala Vanilla moved to the horticulture innovation hub in 2010 but quickly outgrew the space and has expanded to boost production and satisfy global demand.

"With this expansion, we believe we now have the biggest pure vanilla extraction production facility in Australasia," says Heilala Vanilla director and co-founder Jennifer Boggiss.

"Our harvest has increased year on year," says Boggiss. "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 Vanilla grows its crop on the Tongan Island of Vava'u with a group of Tongan growers and ships its annual harvest to the Tauranga facility. It extracts pure vanilla to use in products including paste, syrup and sugar.

It says its larger site will mean it can also develop new products. The company was the fastest-growing exporter and manufacturer in the Deloitte Fast 50 central region last year.

It harvested 40kg in its first year and four tonnes last year.

"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 Boggiss.

Developers Steve Saunders and Rob Jeffrey opened the first stage of The Newnham Park Innovation Centre in 2010. Plus Group, Heilala Vanilla, marketer Southern Produce and Kiwifruitz were the first occupants of the site.

Product development and innovation consultancy Locus Research is also there.