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New Zealand’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has helped local business Annies to boost international sales of its real fruit snacks.

In their last financial year, Annies has experienced a million-dollar turnaround on profits, launched four new products, entered into three significant export markets, and introduced new branding in New Zealand.

Production is booming, with more than 8.5 million fruit bars and 500,000 of the new product lines rolling out to domestic and global markets.

The success of New Zealand’s management of the pandemic has resonated positively around the globe, positioning New Zealand businesses, such as Annies, favourably in overseas markets.

‘New Zealand Inc’ has been beneficial to Annies real-fruit snack company, especially in the US, where “grown and made in New Zealand” has currency. US sales have grown tenfold in the past 12 months and the American distributor only works with brands that are committed to stopping food waste (which fits Annies ethos perfectly as they use fruit seconds and some destined for the bin).

Annies was able to quickly convert the products that would have normally gone into the US retail customer (where the Kiwi business was seeing a drop in demand) over to the online subscription box customer. Consumers there are responding to the same benefits of Annies products seen in New Zealand – healthy, simple ingredients and minimally processed with a long shelf life.

Imperfect Foods is an American subscription business, offering grocery products that are committed to stopping food waste. They do weekly deliveries of fresh produce and grocery staples (similar to My Food Bag but not recipe based) to households across the States. Annies was already selling their Fruit Strings and Fruit Jerky with them, both products launched over lockdown. Imperfect Foods’ business had grown tenfold due to lockdowns in the States and they needed more products in the boxes.

“The reputation of ‘NZ Inc.’ was enhanced through the pandemic and has helped us move significant volumes of Annies product, particularly in the United States and China,” says Bonnie Slade, sales manager for Kono fruit snacks and the Annies brand. “After 12 to 18 months’ work establishing new markets, we launched into three new markets while we were in lockdown and as the world was responding to the pandemic. It was difficult timing and had many challenges, but New Zealand’s management of the Covid-19 crisis helped us in our export markets. New Zealand is seen as ‘safe’ due to the fact we were able to come out of stringent lockdown restrictions so quickly.”

“At Annies we focus on long term, committed and transparent relationships with our partners so that support in times like this goes both ways.  Unfortunately for the US they don’t look like they are coming out of this pandemic any time soon, and our online customer is continuing to see significant growth and we are grateful, that while they are a relatively new customer for us, we had that mutual trust to be able to move quickly and get a new product off the ground,” says Bonnie.


Technology helps open doors

While Covid-19 has prevented travel to export markets to meet with customers or attend food fairs, video conferencing has been instrumental in Annies’ ongoing export sales.

“We had a full calendar of meetings and travel planned pre-COVID.  Meeting  with 12 Chinese buyers via Zoom to successfully plan our ongoing supply of Annies to China doesn’t quite replace meeting in person or being on the ground to truly understand the local market, however it is great to be able to use technology to keep us connected and achieve vital sales abroad and at home.  

“Annies is proudly a New Zealand brand, and we are grateful for the long-standing support of New Zealanders. The strong support for buying local means that we can continue to support our local growers and suppliers.”


Local refresh

For the first time in 10 years, the Annies branding was recently refreshed and launched into the New Zealand market, alongside new additions to its fruit snack range. “The timing wasn’t ideal as supermarkets stalled stocking new products on their shelves during lockdown, but our customers are loyal and local demand remained high,” says Bonnie.

“When Annies was first made 33 years ago, it was ahead of its time. We haven’t changed our core product in more than three decades.  Now in 2020 making food snacks with only fruit and no other ingredients is in more demand than ever as consumer behaviour has shifted to wanting to know what’s in the food we buy and the provenance of that food.


Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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