New Zealand’s premium poultry producer, Tegel, has expanded its sales in the UAE with the launch of its premium chicken range into the foodservice market in partnership with Country Hill
Following the launch of premium chilled and frozen poultry products into the retail channel through a successful partnership with Spinneys, Tegel has been looking for the right partner in the foodservice channel in the UAE. Tegel worked closely with the New Zealand Consulate and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in Dubai to ensure all options were considered for representation of Tegel’s premium chicken range.
Late last year, following an extensive search, Country Hill International, a premium distributor with a significant presence in the foodservice market was appointed as the Tegel Food service distributor. Country Hill’s brand portfolio includes Silver Fern Farms, one of New Zealand’s iconic beef and lamb brands, which it has been representing for over 20 years; a legacy that encouraged Tegel to initiate the partnership.
“The UAE is an extremely important market for Tegel and having a partner in the market that has established relationships with other New Zealand premium brands is important to us,” said Phil Hand, CEO of Tegel Foods. “Representing a premium brand of chicken from New Zealand requires that experience, to ensure success as we build our brand of high quality, pure and natural chicken products.”
Dariush Rakhshani, general manager, Country Hill is delighted to have signed Tegel Foods to its portfolio. “We have been looking for a premium poultry partner for our business for some time, and Tegel Foods was recommended to us by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. We are aware of the success they have had globally and we know they are the right brand for us in the foodservice market,” said Rakhshani.
Tegel’s range of products includes Rangitikei brand of Corn Fed Free Range whole chickens, portions and fillets as well as the Tegel brand portfolio, which includes prime cuts and value added products, such as cooked ready to eat shredded and sliced chicken, and chicken rashers (bacon).
Hand added: “After two years in retail the issue has been about establishing our brand. We went into retail with a good partner and to prove our supply chain and understand the market. We didn’t want to rush in and fail or make mistakes. We are very cognoscente that we can’t damage the brand or the product and lose any opportunity to build for the future.
“We are confident Country Hill is the right partner for us. We talked to the market and their existing customers and they have a fantastic reputation in the region, and we are confident they will do a good job for us. We expect to start getting sales by the end of January 2016 and see products begin to flow.”
Currently, Tegel exports around 20% of its production but the company is keen to grow its export business. “We have a strong presence in New Zealand, which has a steady growth, but we are keen to grow on the back of our value added and high range products, like free range, and we have a diversification strategy for our business to see us grow.
Presently Tegel’s export markets are Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, Hong Kong and the UAE, which although small in comparison at this time, is expected to rise to second or even the first largest market in future.
“It’s an exciting market that’s growing and we have a unique product that fills a void not filled at the moment,” Hand added.
Tegel chicken is premium quality, raised in open plan barns, with a high quality grain rich diet. It is free from growth hormones, barn raised (cage free), naturally healthy, and receives no injections.
New Zealand’s strict bio-security controls, quality control processes and geographic isolation have resulted in a unique animal disease-free status. This guarantees freedom from the major worldwide avian diseases, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), infectious bursal disease (IBD), and Newcastle disease.
In exporting to the UAE, Tegel had to invest substantially in its processing plant, removing the processing of pork, and ensuring all operations were fully Halal compliant. “Tegel was a multi meat company and we used to process pork. We stopped making a range of sausages and removed all pork from our businesses. Now all lines are Halal certified after a lot of help from the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.”
Jeremy Clarke-Watson, ambassador, New Zealand Embassy, commented upon the partnership: “The UAE is very important for food production in New Zealand. Food imports increased 12% year on year for the last five years.”
New Zealand exports stand at around the $700m mark and continuing to grow. “The UAE is also an important feeder market or logistics hub for produce going elsewhere in the world. Now some of our big sea food companies are looking to come in,” said Clarke-Watson.
He added: “Starting off five years ago with $15m exports and today reaching over $100m, Tegel so have been pioneers for New Zealand producers. This will lead other companies to venture into this market in due course, although behind Tegel in breadth of product to the market.”
For the first time, New Zealand is planning a major pavilion at Gulfood 2016, with 14 of the country’s biggest producers exhibiting and conducting live cooking classes with a full service kitchen within the pavilion.
Haylon Smith, trade commissioner, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, commented: “An average consumer in Dubai would be surprised by how much of New Zealand they are eating. In Spinneys alone we have 79 skews, not including lose vegetables.”