Food and beverage to Fiji

Trends and opportunities

The market

With a domestic population of approximately 900, 000, Fiji imports the majority of its food and agriculture requirements.

Close to half of Fiji’s population lives in the greater Suva area, which dominates retail sales. It is a hub for government and multinational corporations servicing Fiji and the Pacific islands, resulting in a strong network of expatriates residing in Suva.

Imported food and beverage items are primarily used in the tourism and supermarket sector. Annually around 750,000 tourists visit Fiji with the majority from Australia and New Zealand. Most of the resorts catering for the tourist trade are found in the west of Fiji around the Nadi/Coral Coast area and the Mamanuca and the Yasawa Island Groups which are located off Lautoka.

Key product categories that Australia supplies to Fiji are:

  • frozen meat, small goods and seafood
  • chocolate, confectionery, nuts and snacks
  • cereals, grains and pulses
  • spices, sauces and spreads
  • dairy products and milk powder
  • alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • fresh produce
  • canned and dried fruits
  • edible oils.

There is no import duty on food supplements, however import duties are still applicable on a number of imported goods ranging from zero to 32 per cent. A Value Added Tax (VAT) of nine per cent is applicable on all imports.

Australia remains Fiji’s largest supplier of imported wines. The market continues to be very competitive and wine importers are constantly presented with new brands. Pricing is important along with consistent supply of product when deciding which brands to purchase.

Newly imported beverages are appearing in supermarkets and convenience stores especially energy drinks. Prices are quite competitive and a well-priced product combined with a reputable distributor in the market will assist in promoting and growing the brand locally.

Fiji has a number of manufacturing plants that produce bread, biscuits, ice-cream and savory quick service items. Grains are imported from Australia to support this manufacturing sector.

Opportunities

While Fiji presents a broad range of supply opportunities, the best opportunities in the food and beverage industry for Australian exporters are:

  • Australian lamb and beef for the hospitality and food service sector
  • fresh fruit and some vegetables
  • retail UHT milk, butter and cheese, yoghurt, bulk butter, bulk powdered milk
  • consolidated shipments of general foodstuffs for retail sector
  • introduction of new lines with well-planned marketing strategy
  • beverages – energy drinks, aerated beverages and natural waters, beer, wine, spirits and liquors, equipment for the beverage industry
  • accessories including packaging and flavouring to the food processing industry.

Competitive environment

Australian suppliers face competition in a couple of key product categories from local and New Zealand suppliers. In particular, Australian suppliers will face stiff competition from domestic players in the soft drinks, bottled water, snack products, spread lines and some dairy products.

Fiji actively promotes its local fruit and vegetable industry via a market system. Many resorts and hotels source local produce from these suppliers as a means to encourage local production. However due to seasonal factors the import of food and beverages are required to meet demand.

New Zealand produce is widely found in Fiji, especially fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat and wines are also becoming popular.

An increasing number of Asian products are now in supermarkets, as well as in Asian grocery outlets in the country. Fiji’s labelling laws on food products have forced a number of Asian products to be removed from supermarket shelves. These products were not labelled in English and did not show a list of ingredients or use-by-date.

Tarrifs, regulations and customs

The 2014 budget changed the duty applicable on food supplements, including essential vitamins and fortifications from 32 to 0 per cent. Duty is applicable on imports of fresh produce, dairy products and meats.

Tariffs range from zero to 32 per cent. The high tariff of 32 per cent duty is in place to support the local manufacturing industry. Some of the products that come under this category are butter, UHT milk, mineral water, jam and locally grown vegetables and fruits.

All imports attract a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15 per cent. Excise taxes on alcoholic beverages range from FJ$1.24 to FJ$38.07 per litre while excise on tobacco products also varies according to content.

For more information on duty and taxes applicable to food importation, please visit the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority website.

Industry standards

Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Trade and Commerce work together to progress a Food Security Bill, which incorporates Codex Food Standards. The bill looks at regulations in place for labelling and packaging of food products.

More recently, the three ministries have conducted workshops with food processors, restaurants and caterers on reducing the use of salt, sugar and oil in their operations to address local health issues.

Health and quarantine regulations are in place for most food products, especially meats and fresh produce.

Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) is responsible for quarantine regulations. Frozen chicken and all chicken by-products are not allowed to be imported to Fiji. For example baby foods with chicken or eggs. Honey is also restricted unless exporters meet quarantine requirements of heat processing of honey before bottling.

Fruit and vegetables are required to be grown and packed not less than 80km from areas where species of fruit fly exist, otherwise the product needs to be subjected to dimethoate dip treatment. This also applies for citrus exports; otherwise fruits have to be subjected to cool storage for 14 days at 0°C prior to shipment.

All beverage products in Fiji require the use-by-date and details of contents on packaging, especially fruit juices.

For packaging and labelling requirements, please refer to:

Confirmation on tariffs and product descriptions are available through the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority.

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

A few key points to note when entering the food and beverage market:

  • Exporters who are able to export in small volumes at regular intervals find it easier to penetrate the market as orders can be relatively small.
  • Competitively priced and innovatively packed products can usually find a niche in Fiji.
  • It is important to identify the appropriate distribution channels to sell, service and promote products.
  • Visit the market regularly to develop relationships with customers and to understand their needs.

Buyers want to see the product, its colour, feel and taste before they can commit to buying. When making contact with potential distributors, it is advisable to send samples or have the Fiji company visit your business in Fiji.

Some Fiji customers may request a trial shipment to test the market and gauge the interest level before consistent supply is established.

Most beverage manufacturers are represented by agents/distributors with sufficient stock held for short-term needs. Agents/distributors rely on suppliers’ capacity to restock at short notice.

A variety of promotional options are available from print, television and radio advertising to in-store events and sports sponsorships. Wine tastings are becoming more popular with the expatriate and local communities. Major food and beverage wholesalers visit Australia regularly to source products. Fine Foods Australia is a popular event for Fijian wholesalers to attend to learn about new premium foods, beverages and equipment supplies.

Distribution channels

A number of food distributors are available to service either the supermarket/retail business or the food service sector. Not all distributors have warehouses. There are only a limited number of cold storage food distributors.

It is normal practice for wholesalers and manufacturers to deliver to clients. Retailers may also collect from manufacturers or wholesalers depending on individual arrangements.

Supermarket chains carry out their own distribution.

Transport

Transport networks, especially roads, vary considerably around the country and suppliers are encouraged to ensure their packaging will stand up to both international and domestic transport logistics to prevent damage to goods.

Contact details

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade – contributes to Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:

  • develop international markets
  • win productive foreign direct investment
  • promote international education
  • strengthen Australia's tourism industry
  • seek consular and passport services.

Working in partnership with Australian state and territory governments, Austrade provides information and advice that can help Australian companies reduce the time, cost and risk of exporting. We also administer the Export Market Development Grant Scheme and offer a range of services to Australian exporters in growth and emerging markets.