Kōkiri 31 – Kono NZ

Published in Kōkiri 31, Huitanguru 2015

Developed in 2011, Kono NZ aims to be the best indigenous food and beverage company in the world. Its formation consolidated all the food and beverage business of Wakatū Incorporated – a significant iwi-owned commercial investment organisation based in Nelson.

Developed in 2011, Kono NZ aims to be the best indigenous food and beverage company in the world. Its formation consolidated all the food and beverage business of Wakatū Incorporated – a significant iwi-owned commercial investment organisation based in Nelson. Wakatū Incorporated represents 3500 Māori shareholders across the top of the South Island whose owners descend from the Māori tribes Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa.

The $260 million asset base of Whakatū consists of 70 percent property and 30 percent food and beverage production. Kono means ‘food basket’ and this concept has been developed into a strong brand story for a range of quality New Zealand food and beverage products.

Kono employs around 350 staff and farms more than 500 hectares of land and sea, using these natural assets in a manner akin to the Māori values of its owners. These involve a high level of cultural integrity, and social and environmental responsibility.

The Kono vision is to create a legacy for the ages by achieving long-term sustainable excellence. Its high-quality products include seafood (mussels, oysters, lobster and pāua), wine under the Tohu, Aronui and Kono brands, and apples, pears, kiwifruit, hops and fruit bars. These are exported to the United States, China, Asia, Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Kono’s objective is to grow the business threefold over the next six years. The company has set an annual revenue target of $247 million by 2020 – a significant growth objective from its 2014/15 budgeted revenue of $73 million. Amongst other growth, Kono seeks to establish new markets for its new oyster product in premium restaurants in Asia. A recent purchase of Annie’s Marlborough Limited will add further international revenue, particularly from the United States and Asia. Kono is also developing a new entry strategy to the China market, leveraging its integrated food-basket offering.

“Many New Zealand producers are happy to sell to export markets and Kono NZ has done similarly in its export phase of growth. We now need to grow within selected foreign markets and consumer segments. It’s not enough for Kono NZ to sell to a market, we need to understand consumers in markets and get closer to them so that we can learn how to compete. You never really understand consumers or competitive markets if you’re separated by long supply chains.”

“Our shareholders work in the business and in the community around us, and give Kono its unique identity. Being Māori owned makes us distinctive. Māori-owned businesses naturally think long-term and are careful guardians of our natural resources. Forming close relationships is natural for us too. We’re great hosts and that serves us well in the food and beverage world. Putting it all together means we play a leadership role in the New Zealand food and beverage sector – people want to do business with us.”

Don Everitt, CEO, Kono NZ

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