Some 5300 miles away, a new business unit has been doing the hard yards to bring the best of our cheese, butter and other chilled dairy products to retail and consumer fridges across Southeast Asia (SEA).
What’s considered “everyday” dairy products in New Zealand are viewed as premium in South East Asian markets, currently heavily dominated by processed cheese, says Willy Low who heads SEA’s Chilled business out of Singapore, where consumers have a more curious, urbane palette, matched by an appetite for fine quality.
Earlier this month, Fonterra Singapore bagged the Top Supplier award for Dairy Spreads by the country’s largest retailer, NTUC Fairprice. This category includes cheese, butter and margarine and features some formidable competitor brands.
“Although Covid has put a different sort of challenge and pressure on the team, it’s also shown us the strength of our brands like Anchor, Chesdale, Mainland and Perfect Italiano,” says Willy. “Our NZ provenance is the magic – there’s nothing quite like it.”
Willy and team are now looking to replicate that success throughout Southeast Asia, with the emergence of a more affluent middle class who can afford higher value products.
This sees the unit collaborating in ways that may not have been natural in the past. Today, they connect weekly across SEA, Australia and NZ, creating more opportunities for growth, innovation and fulfilment across the value chain and delivering dairy goodness across the miles. It’s a great example of Good Together.
Nothing ‘chilled’ about their ambitions though, as they immerse continuously in studying consumer preferences, shopper attitudes, category insights and latest market trends to shape their approach.
“In an evolving consumer business, you’re always learning” says Willy. The right portfolio, the right distribution and the right supply chain matters too – there’s no science to this, good insights, sensibilities and hard work.
“A happy consumer is the best business strategy of all.”