Skip to main content

Catherine Beard reports on how customer intimacy and innovation is paying off for Kiwi exporter Canary Enterprises.

I caught up with Nic Wetere, CEO of Canary Enterprises, fresh off the plane from Singapore where she had been attending the Food & Hotel Asia Trade Show.

“It was an amazing experience – the buzz and excitement of working with like-minded companies in the NZ Pavilion with NZTE, and seeing so many New Zealand companies doing amazingly innovative things,” reported Nic. “You wonder why you haven’t heard of them! It’s a great event for networking and showcasing.”

While you may have seen Canary brand clarified butter in New Zealand supermarkets, Canary’s products go beyond this to individual portions of butter medallions and rosettes. They were exporting from day one; now producing 120,000 portions of butter a day to countries all over the world, including their biggest customers in Australia, Thailand and the UAE.

As a food innovator and manufacturer of quality, premium dairy products, Canary’s model is all about being in the niche, premium product space.

“We’ve been around 16 years, and it all started with seeing an opportunity in the market where we could deliver premium butter products to end consumers, while helping to reduce their cost and add value,” explains Nic.

“It’s a pure New Zealand butter product so customers have full traceability; plus as a further processor we can customize. We work closely with end users to identify exactly what they need.

“Canary offers a more customized experience. We partner with end users to ensure we’re delivering what they actually require.

“Our customer intimacy model means we think like our customers do – for example, forecasting for them, predicting when they’re going to run out of stock. Things like that ensure they’re getting a full service, rather than simply being sold a product.”

One of Canary’s major segments is airlines, for whom they make butter medallions. “It’s pretty amazing when you actually stop and think about how our products literally end up all over the world!” says Nic.

A lot of Canary’s hotel customers have their logos embossed onto the butter medallions, and this USP is being worked on with airlines too. “It’s a big focus for us to give customers that level of customization so we’re creating something they can identify as their own.”

Innovation and the New Zealand brand are Canary’s point of difference.

“Our medallions get delivered in a carton, already on a line of paper. They’re then plated by the customer. A lot of our competitors’ products are in a plastic wrapper. By not packaging our butter this way, our customers can serve it how they choose; plus there’s less waste, and more space from a shipping and storage point of view.”

The company has India and Vietnam in their sights, as well as new blended innovations to meet customer price point needs.

Catherine Beard is executive director of ExportNZ.  This article was first published in the July 2018 issue of NZBusiness.

Nic’s 5 top tips

  • If you have a distribution model like us, do your homework and ensure you’re matching yourself with like-minded people. The culture’s got to fit. You can’t sell a product without the right people.
  • Utilize NZTE’s in-market research to help you find the right person.
  • Be flexible in your strategy so you can take up opportunities when they arise.
  • Get in front of your customers. Our sales team are out every two to three months meeting distributers.
  • Use your network for getting on-the-ground intelligence. We’re such a small community in the New Zealand food space, so share recommendations and utilize your contacts.
Glenn Baker

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


Dishing up export possibilities

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012

What’s mine is not yours

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012

25 countries… and counting

Exporter Today Editorial TeamExporter Today Editorial TeamApril 16, 2012