Tonga’s Nishi Trading Company successfully trialled its frozen taro, fries, pumpkin and hummus in the local market in Nuku’alofa late last year. The response has been overwhelmingly good.
“Using your own local market for product development is important to see how people respond to the product” says Nishi’s Marketing Expert Joanna Bourke, Executive Creative Director of CocoNew The Agency.
“It’s been easy to sell the frozen taro to hotels and restaurants who say the product is easy and convenient to use,” Miss Bourke says .
Nishi wanted to get its products out there and started producing for the local market, promoting it via social media she says.
Nishi Trading Company Limited is a family owned. Nishi is one of Tonga’s biggest exporters of butternut, butterkin, and pumpkin with markets in Japan, New Zealand.
But local market-testing the frozen products is important or it could be destined for failure when exported Ms Bourke said.
Nishi Trading launched a healthy eating campaign a few years ago, encouraging people to eat more fresh produce, reduce obesity and other weight related illnesses.
Ms Bourke said in the past pumpkin and butternut is generally not part of the daily Tongan diet or staple foods in Tonga.
Rather locals prefer sweet potato, breadfruit, taro and cassava. But Nishi is working on changing the mindset that pumpkin is healthy for humans instead of solely for exports or as animal feed.