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Award-winning New Zealand vanilla company Heilala Vanilla is celebrating sweet success after cracking the tough American market.

The Tauranga-based company has sent its first order of vanilla products to the prestigious US food retail chain, Williams-Sonoma, after months of negotiation. This is only the second time a New Zealand food company has secured a contract with Williams-Sonoma.

The premium retail store has over 200 stores in America and Canada, and is located in high-end shopping areas like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and New York’s Madison Avenue.

Heilala Vanilla director, Jennifer Boggiss, said they spent months developing new packaging and labelling to meet Williams-Sonoma’s strict criteria.

“The US population is the biggest consumer of vanilla in the world so it is a huge category in the US market. Williams-Sonoma buyers were impressed with the quality of our product, the labelling and brand story,” Boggiss said.

Heilala Vanilla secured the deal after making contacts with US food industry “heavyweights” and working closely with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) in Los Angeles, who assisted with the negotiation process, terms and pricing. NZTE representative Candice Watson said the deal was a “huge accomplishment”.

A second shipment of Heilala Vanilla products will soon be bound for Portland, Oregon for distribution to a number of high-end food websites.

The products will also be available in gourmet food retail stores in Seattle and will be used in New York restaurants Telepan, Little Branch and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where First Lady Michelle Obama recently held a farm-to-table lunch to promote healthy eating among children.

The Heilala Vanilla beans are grown organically on a plantation in Tonga established nearly 10 years ago in partnership with a local village. The beans are sun-dried in Tonga before being made into extract, paste and syrup at the processing plant in Tauranga.

Heilala Vanilla products are sold in retail, food service and food manufacturing in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia and the US.

— Source: Press release

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