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Food and beverage to Fiji

(Last updated: 5 Dec 2013)

Trends and opportunities

The market

With a domestic population of approximately 870,000, Fiji imports the majority of its food and beverages. There is a small and relatively concentrated food processing industry with retail and food service being the larger volume sub-sectors.

A number of food and beverage products imports declined in mid-April 2009 due to the devaluation of the Fiji dollar. The strength of the Australian dollar has continued to place strain on the power of the Fiji currency.

The grocery retail sector is the largest sub-sector, three times the size of the food service industry. The retail sector is relatively fragmented with four main players, the largest of which is Morris Hedstrom, the others are Newworld, Cost U Less and RB Patel. Close to half of Fiji’s population lives in the greater Suva area and it is this geographic region that dominates retail sales. Suva also is a hub for the Pacific Islands with a number of regional institutions and multinational corporations that service the Pacific islands based in Suva. As a result there is also a small but notable expatriate community.

Imported food and beverage items for the food service sector are primarily used in the tourist sector. Approximately 600,000 tourists visit Fiji each year 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 off Lautoka.

Key product categories that Australia supplies to Fiji are:

  • Frozen meat
  • Frozen seafood
  • Confectionery
  • Cereal
  • Spices
  • Dairy
  • Wine and beer and other beverages
  • Fresh produce
  • Canned fruits
  • Sauces and spreads
  • Health bars
  • Snack products

Duty on food supplements was reduced to zero precent, however import duties are still applicable on fresh produce, dairy and meat products, according to the 2014 budget.

Australia remains Fiji’s largest supplier of imported wines. The wine market is very competitive and wine importers are constantly being presented with new brands. Pricing seems to play a major role in deciding which brands to carry. A number of affordable brands are available in bottle shops allowing exposure of wine to a wider consumer base.

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

Opportunities

Whilst Fiji presents a broad range of supply opportunities, the best opportunities in Fiji’s 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 is actively promoting its fruit and vegetable industry, coupled with high import tariffs and excise.

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

An increasing number of Asian products are now in supermarkets, especially 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.

Tariffs, regulations and customs

The 2014 budget changed the duty applicable on food supplements, including essential vitamins and fortifications from 32 per cent to 0 per cent. However duty is still 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 whilst 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 are currently working together to progress a Food Security Bill, which incorporates Codex Food Standards. The bill also looks at regulations in place for labelling and packaging of food products.

More recently, the three ministries have been conducting workshops with food processors, restaurants and caterers on reducing the use of salt, sugar and oil in their operations.

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

BioSecurity Fiji is responsible for quarantine regulations. Frozen chicken and all chicken by-products are not allowed into the country, eg. baby foods with chicken or eggs. Honey is also not allowed from Australia 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:

  • National and Trade Measurement Decree
  • National and Trade Measurement (Pre-Packed Articles) Packaging Regulation 1989
  • Health Department regulations

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 Fiji 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 in Fiji
  • Visit the market regularly and develop relationships with customers
  • Have the drive to remain focused and be patient

Buyers want to see the product, its colour, feel and taste before they can commit to buying. So when making contact with potential distributors, it is advisable to send them samples to help them make informed decisions.

Some may want to do 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 being held for short-term needs. Agents/distributors rely on suppliers being able 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.

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. At present there are only a handful of cold storage food distributors.

Overseas products are imported by wholesalers or direct by retail outlets. Some manufacturers also import to supplement their locally produced range.

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 therefore encouraged to ensure their packaging will stand up to both international and domestic transport logistics.

Contact details

The Australian Trade 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.

Austrade provides information and advice that can help you 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.

For more information on how Austrade can assist you, contact us on:

Australia ph: 13 28 78 | Email: info@austrade.gov.au

A list of Austrade offices (in alphabetical order of country) is also available.

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