Creative thinking and support from local businesses have helped a Hawke’s Bay feijoa orchard turn the fruit into products available year-round and online.
The short growing season and lack of processing has traditionally limited feijoas to being enjoyed fresh in the country in which they are grown.
Heather’s Feijoas has developed processing techniques that offer feijoa frozen, freeze-dried, pureed, powdered and jellied. They are also creating beauty products from the fruit.
New stockists in Oz
The business offers online orders nationally and internationally and has just gained two stockists in Australia.
Feijoas are native to South America and were brought to New Zealand in the 1920s. They are considered a superfood and are high in bio-actives and Vitamins C and K. Bio-actives are constituents in foods that have a positive benefit to the body over and above their nutritional value.
Heather Smith’s journey with feijoas began when she visited New Zealand on holiday and “fell in love with the open space and natural beauty of this country. I remember liking that people went barefoot to the grocery store, so I started doing it too”.
It began with a winery dessert
She first tasted feijoas in a dessert 24 years ago at Vidal’s Winery in Hastings.
“I had just purchased Tauroa organic farm in Tuki Tuki and remember thinking ‘what is this fruit?’ We were looking for ideas of what to grow and I knew upon my first taste that it would be feijoas.”
Heather started by planting nearly 2000 feijoa trees. While her organic fruit is always in high demand, she wondered how to prolong the availability of feijoas beyond the short, intense growing season.
She believes that no-one has a company that specialised solely in feijoa products.
She just followed her heart
“I wasn’t even sure there was a market for what I wanted to do. I just followed my heart. To this day most of our product range is unique, such as whole peeled feijoas which require specialised machinery and then the wedges which are cut by hand.”
We spent a lot of time, made a heap of mistakes and pushed through with creative thinking and a tremendous amount of support from local business.”
New processing and freezing techniques now make it possible to take feijoas further afield both online and in organic and health food stores throughout New Zealand.
This year the feijoa harvest time coincided with the Covid-19 lockdown but as an essential industry her small staff has been able to continue picking and processing.
Online doors open
Locally the farmers market where she had a stall closed during the Covid-19 lockdown but Heather had already expressed her interest in joining online farmers market Maker2u which brought forward its launch and opened its online doors during the lockdown.
“Suzie [from Maker2u] approached us when she was just starting out and we followed her on her journey. She put good systems in place and had a great business model. I liked how she supported small business and provided the makers with ongoing support, so we couldn’t resist becoming part of the Maker2u family.
“So far sales are trending well. We are still early days yet so we need to work on our listings and learn as we go.”
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