Pacific success story - NIUE Vanilla International
On the tiny island of Niue, family-owned business NIUE Vanilla International is a horticultural success story. Based in the heart of Anatalana, Alofi North, the NIUE Vanilla Organic range includes fresh vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract and paste, vanilla powder and vanilla infused coconut oil, vanilla infused coffee beans, vanilla infused green tea, and even vanilla vodka.
Vanilla was introduced to Niue in 1991 as a potential export product, with funding from New Zealand to help develop the industry. Niue’s vanilla industry was decimated when powerful Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Heta hit Niue in January 2004. Recovery from Cyclone Heta was incredibly hard for many vanilla farmers; growing vanilla is both labour and time-intensive, with plants needing to be hand-pollinated and vanilla pods taking six to nine months to mature.
Post-cyclone, Stanley Kalauni, founder of NIUE Vanilla International, was approached by two growers to buy their crops. He was a little reluctant; however, he wanted to support the farmers and the industry. More and more growers approached him, resulting in him buying 100 kg of uncured beans. Kalauni saw the potential to revitalise the industry and founded NIUE Vanilla to cure the beans and begin selling them at the local market and to tourists.
Although Niue’s vanilla industry is comparatively small to other vanilla-producing nations such as Madagascar, Mexico, Indonesia and China, Kalauni knew the quality of Niue vanilla was high and began to explore the potential to export. In 2011, NIUE Vanilla International was part of PTI Australia’s Pacific Showcase at Fine Food Australia, their first time at an international trade show.The feedback, sales leads and exposure confirmed that they were on the right path. The learnings gained through PTI Australia's Pacific Showcase enabled Kalauni to refine their product offering and understand their export market resulting in export sales and growth. Now the quality of Niue’s vanilla is widely recognised internationally; NIUE Vanilla International export market has grown, exporting all over the world, with international businesses using it in everything from cooking to perfume.
Through growing their business through export, NIUE Vanilla International have established their own three acre vanilla farm and continue to provide a vital income pathway for local Niuean farmers. NIUE Vanilla Organic works closely with over 50 local vanilla farmers to produce premium quality vanilla beans for the international market. The green and matured vanilla beans are sourced directly from local farmers as well their own farm and delicately sun-cured for four to five months under strict organic guidelines before being processed and exported to global markets.