Spreading into the UAE and beyond

Spreading Kiwi Chef all natural butter replacement onto bread
 

24 January 2019

Founded in 1964 and still a proudly family owned company, Lowe Corporation is one of New Zealand’s leading agri-businesses, with a pioneering attitude to sustainability. As well as taking resources from the farming and food industry that would otherwise be underused or ignored and transforming them into hugely beneficial products like biofuel and pet feed, Lowe Corporation also supplies high-quality leather and fleece to fashion brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and develops cutting-edge ingredients for use in commercial kitchens. 

Right product, right market, right time

Keen to keep innovation at the heart of their business, Lowe Corporation created an all-natural replacement for butter, able to stand in for the more expensive product in cooking, baking and confectionary. Known as Kiwi Chef, this new alternative was lower in lactose and easier to ship and store than traditional butter. As it was also halal friendly, Lowe Corporation soon isolated the Middle East and in particular the United Arab Emirates as a key potential market.  

Alongside the connectivity and infrastructure that Lowe Corporation required, including vital cold storage and transportation, the UAE also had the added advantage of a thriving food and beverage industry - one that had become a major drawcard for top international restaurants and chefs. To access them however required local knowledge, so Lowe Corporation approached NZTE for support and advice. 

Know your customers

As well as providing insight on the market and help to find the right distributor, NZTE also introduced them to their vast network of local contacts. However, despite an openness to new ideas in the region, many potential users were initially reluctant to move away from an established product like butter and take a chance on a new alternative, making research and education vital for the product to succeed. 

Alastair Cullwick, General Manager, said of the experience of working with NZTE, “One of the key benefits is being able to tap into their network of trusted people throughout the region, streamlining the process and cutting out a lot of potential mistakes.”

By spending time in the market alongside chefs and bakers, Lowe Corporation were able to experience local conditions for themselves, where they discovered that local restaurant habit was to leave traditional butter out ready for use, often in temperatures topping 32 degrees. As well as reducing its shelf life, these conditions frequently made the flavour of Kiwi Chef inconsistent and greatly increased the chances of it splitting. However, by educating the industry on their product and even tweaking the recipe to improve its performance in the heat, Lowe Corporation were able to display the advantages of Kiwi Chef clearly. 

Dubai is a hub to reach the world

With Kiwi Chef now increasingly used and recognised in the UAE, Lowe Corporation are looking ahead to the next five years and aim to boost export volume by 10% annually. With the UAE as a springboard, they next plan to expand into the wider region and have even collaborated with local partners on three new potential products. They are also preparing to capitalise on the Expo 2020 event to be held soon in Dubai, which is expected to boost demand in the hospitality sector. 

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